“Don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative” is a political adage that says no candidate is perfect (like the Almighty), but a candidate—however flawed—might still be better than all the other candidates (the alternatives).
As a Somali, whose people have not grown up from clan identification and whose ills seem to stem from clan politics and its constant tug of war, I also desperately want and yearn for a competent leadership to impress upon me the possibilities of something bigger and better beyond primitive clan considerations! I want to belong, along with every one of my people, to a nation of Somalis in spirit–not just in the letter! Such is indeed a tall order which would require successive, relay-leaderships in a marathon of good governance! And that, in return, would and should logically ( over time) be the answer to the clingy psychosis of shallow pride in a fellow clansman’s ascendancy to leadership, regardless of his crookery and incompetence!
The Somali people may be very clannish when clannishness is the order of the day, but just as much nationalists if and when their leaders light up the way to the summit of binding, collective national identity by demonstratable and quantifiable deeds of good governance! In other words, if given a good reason for it, Somalis are as much nationalists, if not more, as any other people on this planet!
I judge a good “Somali leader” by the following criteria: A. Inclusivity. B. Above corruption. C. Good governance!
First, let me start by saying that President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed Farmajo is an imperfect human being, just like the rest of us! But in the evaluation, however, to rehire for or dismiss from the job of the presidency, he should be judged according to his record in office for the last 4 years plus! My judgment of him as president should require of me ( as the same goes for all Somalis) to be based on what is good for Somalia country and people, just as we Somalis should expect our president to be for us Somalis country and people!
Here I will try my best to disclose President Farmajo’s major accomplishments and failures! When I finish doing that, It shall be very clear to any fair-minded person that Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed Farmajo had done an exceptional job for his country and people, that Somalia country and people cannot afford but give the president a resounding vote of confidence to continue at the nation’s helm as the president and commander in chief for another term!
- From day one, the Farmajo administration has paid the salaries of all government workers, from politicians, civil servants, and the armed forces on time and every time!
- In efforts to reform and weed out corruption in the armed services, the Farmajo administration instituted every soldier (rank and file) to undergo biometric scanning, which as a result identified 9000 ghost payrolls! The Somalia National Army had the highest pay increases under the Farmajo administration, which amount to more than $ 150!
- Under the president, Somalia’s economy and government budget had improved significantly since 2017! According to the World Bank, Somalia’s economy is projected to grow to 3.2%–the highest in Farmajo’s years in office! The government budget jumped from 148 million in 2017 to an approved budget of whopping $460 million in 2020′
- For the first time, world major financial institutions have opened their doors to Somalia, due to the successful reforms this Farmajo government had institutionalized. In October of 2019, Somalia instituted the international standards of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) and the Somalia auditor general shared the annual audit with the public for the first time in the history of the nation. In a nutshell, what this means is that Somalia can be trusted with managing money soundly!
Just 2 weeks ago, it was reported: “The US-based multinational Deloitte & Touche LLP has given Somalia’s Central Bank a clean bill of health in a first following an audit of the bank’s 2020 Financial Statements.” That is gigantic by any measure!
- Under Farmajo, Somalia had, ahead of time, fulfilled all the conditions for poorer nations’ debt forgiveness, which means any day now, Somalia will be free from about $ 5 billion debt!
- Gaalkacyo, the city, used to be a divided city between fellow Somalis for clan reasons, but today, thanks to this administration, the city is one and united!
- Gebre, an Ethiopian general, had an office in Villa Somalia, from which he had dictated to Somalia leaders! Somalia leaders, from the national president to regional presidents used to compete for Ethiopia’s approval of them. Thus, as it was, the frequent pilgrimages to Addis Ababa then, which were all stopped when Farmajo reclaimed Somalia’s pride, free from Gebre and Ethiopia dictations. Ethiopia now deals with Somalia as neighbors with common destiny!
- Under Farmajo, the XDS (Xooga Dalka Soomaaliyeed) is professionalized, rebuilt, and equipped with solid command and control officer corp! Nobody knows exactly how many soldiers in Somalia’s defense forces, but it is certain that under Farmajo’s 4 years plus, tens of thousands were added!
- In the “Isxilqaan” ( a Somali for “be responsible”) program, government employees, including the president himself, volunteered their time to do manual work in rebuilding, restoration, and or maintenance of national landmarks of monuments, theaters, and historical buildings!
- Thousands of Somalis who were languishing in foreign jails and detention centers have been repatriated by the Farmajo government! That is a fact!
- Al-Shabab is on its backheels and is no longer a match for Somalia’s well-trained and well-paid professional soldiers! Shortly after president Farmajo was sworn in in 2017, Al-Shabab carried out the biggest single bombing in Mogadishu, which killed hundreds of innocent Somalis! 4 years later, however, Al-Shabab has had more bombing operations prevented from carried out by Somalia’s security services in Mogadishu than succeeding!
- Hundreds of thousands of Somali children now go to schools free of charge, with government-produced complete syllabus and textbooks! Thousands of teachers are hired and trained under this president.
- In foreign policy, Somalia has once again taken its rightful seats in world organizations and Somalia’s diplomats are now contesting for positions in prestigious international bodies, such as the UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council (PSC)! Also, Somalia has reactivated more Somalia embassies since the military regime!
- Somalia’s airspace control is fully reclaimed from the UN and its operations repatriated from Nairobi to Mogadishu!
- The peace agreement in Galmudug between AhluSunna Wal Jama’s (ASWJ) armed militia and federal and regional governments, which folded ASWJ fighters to federal and regional forces! And when former ASWJ leaders mistakenly retook up arms in reconstituting itself, the federal and regional forces taught them a permanent lesson on who is the jurisdictional authority!
I could go on and on for at least another 14 accomplishment points by the president and his administration, but let me conclude by pointing out `how above clannishness this president is, which is (in My book) the biggest test on a Somali leader! On this, it is pertinent to employ yet another proverb: “show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are!” President’s politician friends and close allies are from the opposite of his clan: 3 Hawiye regional presidents or governor and one Digil iyo Mirifle regional president in Laftagareen! While the president’s ardent enemies, who last year spearheaded a cunning strategy of delay, dodge, and deny on negotiating a timely election with him ( as his term was about to end), to run out the cloak on Farmajo Presidency, are none other than regional presidents of Puntland and Jubbaland, his fellow clansmen! President’s main political opponent candidates, in former presidents of Hassan Sheikh & Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, had sat at front raws of Hawiye Clan Conference–shamelessly and inappropriately held annually in Mogadishu, the nation’s capital!
Here, I divide President Farmajo’s failures into 2 categories: A. Moral failure. B. Political misstep:
- The handing over of one ” Qalbidhagax” Somali to the Ethiopian regime by Somalia’s Federal Government was the most egregious failure of the Farmajo administration. Never mind the fact that between Somaliland, Puntland, and Galmudug provinces, thousands of Somali were handed over to Ethiopia–some of them even tortured, for Ethiopia!
Somalia’s national government is the mother of all Somalis, which under any circumstance does not and should never hand over one of its children to, of all countries, Ethiopia–a country most Somalis look at with bitterness and still consider as their ancestral enemy! Such was was more egregious than tantamount to defecating on Somalia flag!
- The signing of a 2-year term extension was a political misstep by the president! The better political judgment would have been for him to threaten to sign it if the leaders of Punt and Jubba lands didn’t cut out their clear games with setting up the election! However, the overboard response by his opponents in Mogadishu, by mobilizing clan militias and calling their clan members of XDS into Mogadishu, had earned the president more sympathy by the masses! Talk about miscalculation over miscalculation!
Some of you readers might say that the president had failed more than that, that there are many of his promises which he hasn’t fulfilled, as the judiciary reform! And you would be right! But Somalia is in such difficulty upon difficulty that it is impossible to hold any president on a “checklist” basis! However, there is one indicator of whether a Somalia president ( any president for that matter) is a good president or not, and that is “CORRUPTION.” Can a politician be anymore dastardly to be corrupt on his nation’s most needy hour and when his nation is on its knees? Yet, such a state in which Somalia is in is exactly the greatest opportunity for any scrupulous politicians to steal and self-enrich as the legend utterance of ” 30 jir, 30 malyuun cunay” is created!
In conclusion, let me point out that the president’s political opponents never accuse him of corruption, mismanagement, or incompetence! President Farmajo has no hint of corruption on him personally, and where there was corruption in his administration pointed out ( like the one with the armed forces early on), the administration quickly fixed it!
To any potential fresh MPS, who would vote on presidential candidates in this upcoming election, I ask you: Do you want to go to Mogadishu and risk begging for your daily food, lodging and even be in debt up to your eyeballs by voting someone else other than Farmajo who would pay you your due salary every time and on time?
Win or lose, President Farmajo has run an effective, competent government! He is neither tainted with clannish inclination nor corruption of any kind! He quietly and non flamboyantly did his presidential job with integrity and commitment to improving Somalia from the sorry state it has been in for so long! Farmajo did not need to be a president then nor does he need to be a president again now, but Somalia needs such a leader to continue doing such a good job for the country and people! Please, VOTE FOR SOMALIA!
Hassan A. Zaylai