25 February 2017
Dear Mr. President,
Well, you won and congratulations for making it. Unlike your predecessor, you enjoy two things: popularity among Somalis across the political spectrum and experience in the Somali politics. The former is the biggest weapon you have in your arsenal which you can either use it to break the country or unite it. You are uniting factor, take advantage of that to reconcile the country.
The politicking and activism from outside government is over, and you are going to face a cutthroat political reality and daunting tasks. It is time to walk the talk. Dealing with these realities on the ground requires time and impeccable decisions because change is a slow process and does not come overnight. Choose diplomacy over aggressive confrontation to deal with destructive players in Somalia, including the neighboring nations like Ethiopia and Kenya.
Your election for the top job in the country has inflated expectations. The unprecedented public euphoria was a manifestation of how your election has revived hope in despaired society. But you have to prioritize your goals in consideration of the capacity of your government in order to meet the country’s expectations. You can’t fix the raft of problems in one term — dilemmas that range from insecurity and corruption to poverty and hunger — but you can lay a sustainable foundation.
Mr. President, Somalis are expecting your administration to tackle a plethora of issues but here are few major issues to prioritize.
First, you should tackle the corruption that has become endemic in every sector of the government institutions. We know you have signed an integrity pact with non-governmental organization that fights with corruption and you have a steely resolve to eradicate this menace but that is not enough. You need to cut the red tape and involve both public and private sectors in the fight against corruption.
Corruption is not only the inhibitor of economic development and prosperity, it is the mother of all mess that is in the country. Your nominated Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khayre, will be under particular scrutiny given his more recent role with Soma Oil and Gas, which was previously under investigation in the UK on corruption charges. While we should appreciate the investigation did not produce formal charges, Somalis will be hoping he can avoid similar drama if confirmed by the parliament.
Second, you should unite the country and accelerating reconciliation process. Our unity is the gateway to prosperity that can deter any destructive intent of foreign forces. But, we are vulnerable because our nemesis saw a crack that they can exploit in our nationhood.
We lost trust amongst ourselves, and you have a new opportunity to restore trust and confidence in our deeply divided society and bring back the kind of unity that will suffocate our nemesis.
Mr. President our country is slowly turning in to a proxy state that serves the interests of the other nations, especially our neighboring countries, under the guise of federalism. Almost every de-facto leader of a federal state is on the payroll of another country where they serve in a role similar to a foreign chargé d’affaires than a domestic official.
Third, you must invest in our national army. This includes training, paying forces on time, equipping them and above all motivating them. Let them feel that the country is theirs and that they are the first line of defense.
Mr. President, our country is at the mercy of AMISOM and foreigners who prioritize their own interest above all others. Our national army is treated like second class soldiers. They are not trusted, not paid, not armed, not fed, and their sacrifices are not recognized and their lives are dispensable. In this scenario, how on earth do we want to bring peace?
Mr. President, as the old Somali adage goes, Ragaanimadada Raag lomadibta, which means you cannot ask someone to do something that you can do for yourself. AMISOM and other occupying foreign troops in the country cannot be our vanguard of the so-called war on terror forever, and the only way to tell them that they are not needed in this war is to show them that we are capable of defending our country from any threat. Let us make our armed forces formidable again.
You raised our expectations, inflated our hope, and rekindled our dreams of a prosperous Somalia. I hope you will not fail us as your enemies wish. I hope you will heal our three decades old wounds.