By Said YUUSUF ADE -“In general, the current and previous leadership was skewed towards selfish interests. None had the interest of Somalia citizens at heart.”
Somalia’s current leadership is expected to come to an end. The leaders; parliamentarians, speaker and president will be exposed to elections. The current electoral process will be somehow varied since parliamentarians will be elected by a fifty one (51) select body appointed by their sub-clan elders from their regions of origin with the exception of Somaliland representatives. In the later previous selection procedures will apply. There is also a National electoral body in place. This mode of selection was expected to highly reduce the powers of the traditional elders who unilaterally decided on who to represent the sub-clan. The president and speaker will still adopt the previous method of election; elected by parliamentarians. Though with hope, the situation on the ground is different; the public has put to question the neutrality of formed electoral commission; commissioners were proposed by current regional leaders, prime minister and president who are also aspiring presidential candidates. Secondly, the president and the national leaders’ forum (NLF) is also maneuvering the commission’s activities. For example, they selected their sympathizers after disbanding the original body that was approved by parliament. In fact one public concern is the 30% women representation, which they believe will not be honored.
Looking at the current electoral process, there is hope that one time there could be free and fair elections where politicians will be answerable to those they represent. However, the biggest predicament is the recycling of those deemed unfit through previous regimes. The current President, Hassan Sheikh Mohammud, enjoyed the biggest goodwill of the UN, regional bodies and governments. His government received the biggest junk of donor receipts towards development and even reconstruction of Somalia. But in practice very little can meet the public eye and justify these receipts. For example, one forum of the civil society, some members of parliament, and academicians, singled out ‘incapacity to build effective national security forces’ as the cause of witnessed insecurity and incoherent security policies in the part of his government. The cause to all this is corruption in government since reasonable amounts of money has been channeled towards security. In fact he failed right from the time he re-appointed Omar Abdirashid as his prime minister, who has failed twice now in his capacity as the head of government.
Former Prime Minister, Abdiweli Sheikh, another presidential hopeful, was forced to step down by the current President. In his capacity as head of government, the president accused him of non-performance. Some schools of thought related his predicaments to presidential interference in his duties, hence constantly violating the constitution. For example, Abdiwali Sheikh Ahmed, reshuffled some ministers to improve the government’s performance. The president looked at it as a way of asserting his authority in the cabinet, hence forced to resign. In another previous case, Abdiweli’s predecessor’s (Abdi Farah Shirdon) last cabinet meeting at Villa Somalia, the official presidential residence, only three ministers attended since the rest owed their allegiance to the president. This implied that the prime minister was not in-charge of the cabinet. Though it looks like Abdiweli failed due to non-cooperation from the president, he also did not follow the constitution. He was not consulting with the president on pertinent issues of national concern; a simple example being the cabinet reshuffles. This implies that he cannot be a team player and where Somalia is, consultations are key to peace and national building. As head of government, he also failed in the implementation of Somalia’s Vision 2016, where among others; Somalis were expected to directly elect their leaders. This can be witnessed in the expected elections. How will he then be trusted with change if elected as Somalia president?
Former Prime Minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was the shortest serving Somalia prime minister. His resignation was as a result of the Kampala Accord, when the then Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and speaker of the Somali parliament, Sharif Hassan Shiekh Adan, mended their differences and signed an understanding in Kampala, Uganda. This was a UN backed agreement that hailed as “a breakthrough” that would have ended the political impasse over the transition period then. Surprisingly, Farmajo’s resignation was part of that agreement. This left a lot to be desired: Farmajo was hailed a change leader, what went wrong then? Was he also violating the constitution? Does it mean he is not a team player? Did he lack the necessary experience to head government or was he undermining the president and speaker of parliament? Supposing he ascends to the presidency now, what will he do that he couldn’t then as the prime minister?
Former President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a former extremist has announced his candidature. He was notorious of owing his allegiance to his extremist group. Mostly his government appointments were based of members from this group. Most of them were illiterate and are even involved in the current witnessed fighting within Somalia. He opposed regional forces assistance to creating peace in Somalia. He was a dictator who used intimidation due to his illiteracy level; from ‘madrasa’ to the president’s office. Not a team player and looks at divergent minds as opposition to his leadership. If re-elected, will he deliver Somalia now? Is he still supported by his extremist group? Will he still use intimidation? How will he then cooperate with regional bodies and nations?
As noted in various leadership literatures, the leadership style concept highly depends on personality aspects and the leader’s mode of operation. Leaders can be born or acquire leadership skills through realization of their potential shortcomings and learn to enhance their interactions with others. From the Somalia perspective, there is a need for a leader to be adaptive; learn how to apply different leadership styles in different situations. Basing on the prevailing leadership style, majority will want to attain the autocratic style; the president being the sole decision-maker. That is why the office of the Prime Minister will never be stable. The later is meant to oversee government operations. But the presidency will always interpret the constitution in their favour; must be consulted. For example, must you be consulted on insecurity reactions? Is it wrong to be a servant leader by seeing value in what others achieve in certain situations? Is it wrong to listen to each other? Or are Somalia leaders lacking foresight?
In general, the current and previous leadership was skewed towards selfish interests. None had the interest of Somalia citizens at heart. Each of them satisfied their personal interests, with their immediate families and friends being beneficiaries. However, has Somalia attained the status of personal gains? The country is 100% reliant on support from developmental partners, with no efforts of generating her own income to supplement this support. The excuse is simple, insecurity cannot allow. Who amongst them has ever tamed insecurity? In fact all except one (the late) ever embraced regional support to fight this vice. The rest have been wavering in their positions. Some, including the incumbent referred to it as external aggression. Implying that they do not see its value or have unforeseen external influences. Therefore, how will they fight insecurity with limited resources if re-elected president this time?