Somalia on the right Direction: The Story so Far

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Looking back at the election of H.E Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on February 2017 you could sense an air of freshness, an aura of new beginning for Somalia welcomed with enthusiasm and optimism from the Somali public across Somalia. The task that awaited the new Administration was enormous, hazardous and daunting to say the least. However, Eighteen month on, it is worth re-evaluating what has been accomplished so far under the current Administration. Through this assessment we can independently make our conclusions. The notable achievements of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire are as follows:

The Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member States agreed on the election model in a National Security Forum held in Baidoa this year. The Somalia election will be conducted under Proportional Representation arrangement. This is a continuation and acceleration of political development that will cement further political stability and development for Somalia.

The Somali government under president Farmaajo’s leadership made a huge progress on the implementation of viable security architecture between the central government and regional states. It was therefore encouraging achievement for the Government to have thwarted and successfully prevented Alshabab attacks in Mogadishu where attacks took over the last seven years during Ramadan, a preferred month for their delusional cause. The Somali government reached a new milestone, which brings peace and optimism back to Mogadishu and Somalia at large.

On the economic front, the Somali government made tangible progresses in economic development and finance sector reform, consistency in paying salaries and wages for all government employees electronically, discouraging corruption and encouraging retention of key civil servants and services. This has further strengthened the key pillar of Nabad & Nolol, bringing back much needed confidence and stability in the economy and public finances which has led to many Diaspora to return home for investment opportunities and skills transfer.

The vision from President Farmajo presidency has been Nabad & Nolol (peace and livelihood). In this context, the Somali government initiated reconciliation by forging a peace deal in Mogadishu between warring sides of Galmudug state administration, resulting in power sharing agreement in December 2017. The agreement which was signed at Villa Somalia and witnessed by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” and Prime Minister Hassan Khaire is a significant power sharing deal and a step towards the formation of a viable, unified administration in Galmudug.  This is to be applauded, as the role taken by the Somali Government in bringing together the rival sides in Galmudug defused the tension and a possible conflict in central Somalia regions.

The President’s successful projection on the road tour across regional states has further given our citizens confidence in the security and strength of our unity for a better Somalia. There is a sense that our Government is determined to succeed for our people and is leading the way while at the same time being in touch with the concerns and aspirations of its citizens across all regional states.

For the past twenty seven years Somalia’s aviation and airspace was managed and implemented in Nairobi, Kenya, depriving from the country much needed economic resources, control and accountability for our airspace fees. The restoration of the Somali aviation agency to operate in Somalia is a huge victory delivered by the Farmaajo Presidency. As a result, all function of airspace control has been handed over to Somalia’s aviation agency, SCAMA. This is further strengthening of our sovereignty, giving our citizens much hope and confidence that stability is returning quickly and our governments and people are capable of controlling and looking after key pillars of state function.

The Gulf dispute between Qatar and Saudia Arabia/UAE was a major challenge to the new Government. As a recovering nation, we have no interest in taking sides for regional and international disputes. Therefore a major achievement by the Somali Federal Government (SFG) was the decision to formally remain neutral in the Gulf Dispute, much to the annoyance of many self-interested opposition politicians and UAE who clearly want Somalia to be under their political control and influence. This was a historic test of Somalia’s sovereignty and maturity, coming out of tested years of governance.

Due to the fragmentation and the consequence of civil war in Somalia, many of our citizens have left Somalia for security and economic development. There have been many of our citizens who attempted to seek better lives but in the process of their perilous journeys ended up losing their rights to justice and human rights, many languishing in foreign prisons. It was therefore a hallmark of the current administration to have successfully negotiated agreements to free Somali prisoners in foreign countries and reclaiming Somalia’s cosignatory status for aid funds earmarked for development in Somalia.

This has rekindled the dignity of our citizens and nation abroad. On the election of President Farmaajo there was a widespread feeling that this is a president that cares for the little people and the vulnerable at large. It was therefore fitting to have Somali prisoner released from abroad who by large were innocent but lacked political leadership and backbone at home to bring back their dignity and freedom to Somalia.

The UN and international approach to peace building in Somalia has so far been extremely centred at directly engaging with the Somali government. This is to be credited for the Somali government’s insistence not to engage with middle-ranked UN officials. It is also the case that Somalia’s international debt has been reduced, which has developed an environment for a concrete dialogue and services from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, a re-ignition of international confidence for Somalia and reframing a new Somalia that is open for business.

There has been a Telecommunications Bill that has failed to pass and has been sitting in the Somali Parliament for the past 12 years for political interest and expediency. It was therefore a political and economic milestone for the government to have ignited the debate and politically helped passed the Somali Telecommunications Bill through the Somali Parliament, returning political legislative stability, a potential competition in the market and better managed resources for the public finances. In the pipeline, are also Banking/Taxation Reform, Media and international investment laws, which are pivotal for our economy and society.

My message to political spoilers and opposition politicians is that they should give Somalia time and space to progress. They should be awake to the fact they have lost the ideas and the presidential election in 2017. It is time for constructive politics rather than race to the bottom – Somalia needs a shift from destructive and corrosive politics, which has characterised the behaviours of opposition politicians. My call to our citizens is also that every society in the world deserves the type and character of governments that governs them. In this regard, our society at large has a key role to play in revitalising our economy, society, security and governance. The pace of progress we have witnessed so far is for us to lose or gain. Society must keep the momentum together as one society destined for a better Somalia and a future our generations to come can be proud of.

It is without a doubt that president Farmajo wants to leave a lasting legacy for Somalia. This legacy is intertwined with our hopes and aspirations for a peaceful and progressive Somalia among the community of global nations. It is in the fabric of our leaders and government to fully see through this vision.

These above preliminary achievement and milestones are testimony to this on-going progress, a Somalia at peace with itself and progressively outward-looking internationally with sovereignty and dignity.

Many challenges still remain for Somalia and mistakes have been made as this is inevitable for any government in a recovering post conflict society. Of course, there has been notable mistakes and challenges encountered by the current Somali government. To name a few, the transfer of Qalbidhagax, the Bariire incident and the raid of opposition politician’s home and offices senselessly killing six of his innocent bodyguards. In total, what these mistakes point to is a lack of government nerve policy unit that coordinates government activities and policies with effective coordination and precision. It is this reason why the government and our leaders freeze in silence during and in the aftermath of crisis as a result of unprompted errors. I would therefore advice our government to improve government activities and policies to enhance our aspirations for joined-up government coordination across all departments. What is also evident is that there are still security gaps in Mogadishu, while Alshabab has been weakened militarily, their desperate attempts to attack the capital city and its people still remains to be solved. Although it is a difficult balancing act, the trade-off between security road closures and the ability of innocent citizens to go on about their daily lives still remains a major challenge for the government.

However, what remains is a united leadership and government with a unitary purpose focused on Nabad & Nolol and delivery of key services and functions of government.

Daha Mohiadin Daud is an economist and social activist, he can be reached via;                                 Email: Daaheey@hotmail.com Twitter: @Tahirow