Somalia: Will corrupted MP elect a genuine leader? [Op-Ed]

By: Osman Jabane

Somalis currently discuss leadership qualities in every social setting. The question of leadership has emerged as the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFI) mandate is coming to an end in this month. The TFG agreed to hold an election while there is no efficient electoral commission in place that can conduct free and fair election. Most of the Somalis are highly skeptical and believe that this election will be the toughest in the history due to the presence of many candidates including corrupted ones.

It is obvious that the parliament cannot produce a genuine leader that can make a difference to the country unlike the current ones who have their own selfish interest. Most of the MPs whose list have been submitted to represent their constituent or clan, what so ever, cannot represent the Somali people. They are tribal affiliated rather than common citizenship. Some of them are not academically competent and to make it worse, they did not complete secondary school education which is the least education qualification one can have. There is wide spread rumors that some individuals are making fabricated secondary school certificates or equivalent experience so as to apply and qualify the position. Therefore, the question that we all supposed to ask is that, will corrupted Member of Parliament who came through tribalism, nepotism elect a genuine Somali president? I leave the answer to the Somali people but we need to learn a lesson from the past. Back 2004, we have witnessed a historic moment where most of the warlords became legislators, and we thought this was the end of lawlessness in the country but due to many factors there are still no functioning institutions in the country, and it can be said that the situation got worse and worse by the day and all that trial ended in vain.

On the other hand, front-runners of the current presidential elections are doing their best to convince members of the parliament in a different ways, some are concentrating on getting alliances that can campaign or do the hard work for them, some are approaching directly to parliamentarians, while others are contesting for the race in order to capture the media attention with a view to becoming a member of the new cabinet. It is evident that no candidate can win the election without the support of parliamentarians; therefore, candidates are aware of the importance of MPs as they are making the ultimate decision. But the problem is that neither 275 parliamentarians nor others who are currently involving the process are demanding to scrutinize candidates’ reasons of wanting to lead the nation. Without accountability or scrutiny, candidates will have the opportunity that they wished from the first place, hence the increase of candidates.

The selection of the right person to be a leader is very important and the quality and effectiveness of a great leader/president is inevitable to come out and people will notice by the outcome of their actions in this critical time, where Somali people need to realize their dreams of getting a strong government and recover from the long suffering.

It is obvious that the current political situation in Somalia requires a leader who has the ability to take a more strategic view. The following individuals can be future president/leaders in my opinion, although some of them are not candidates and did not put their names forward;

Prof. Ahmed Ismail Samatar of Hiil Qaran

Dr. Afyare Elmi – lecturer in international politics at Qatar University, Qatar

Dr. Abdiwali Mohamed Ali – incumbent Prime Minister

Mohamed Abdulahi Farmajo – former Prime Minister

Ahmed Abdisalan Adan – former Minister of Information, Youth Affairs and Sports

Abdiwahab Ugas Hussein – incumbent Trade & Industries minister

Although the need for a genuine leader exists but there are many factors preventing potential Somali leaders who possess the leadership qualities becoming forward to partake in the current political process. Some of these factors are the influence of external actors, current politicians and lack of public apathy. There is also a perception that if people engage community involvement and challenge actions of clannish they might find themselves and their family being targeted by group leaders and get no help from other Somalis. The current failure in every aspect, powerlessness to take an action and a lack of confidence could have contributed to the feeling of apathy.

Historically Somali politicians secured their seats by spending a considerable time and resources. This allowed them to benefit high profile status and wealthy. Politicians used to pledge to the people for unrealistic promises. Somali politicians have enjoyed the power of making decisions, without consulting their people. This trend is showing a continuous pattern and is preventing communities to recognize and accept to share this power with day-to-day citizens. Some politicians perceive that if there were greater involvement from the citizens for the process of policy making, this would have an impact on their role as politicians.

Accountability is not maintained among the current government branches and institutions such as the Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary. There is no a system of “separation of powers” and “checks and balances” with in the government, and that has given fertile soil for the corrupted executives to misuse the government funds and divert to their individual pockets and accounts. Every Somali whose eyes are not blind and his ears not blocked is aware of the widespread corruption existing among the government top officials. A May 2012 report commissioned by the World Bank found US$131 million in TFG revenues unaccounted for in 2009-10: 68 per cent of total recorded income for that period. The Monitoring Group’s own investigations suggest that the real scale of corruption is probably even higher, since millions of dollars of revenue go unrecorded. In other words, out of every US$10 received by the TFG in 2009-10, US$7 never made it into state coffers. In 2011, almost one quarter of total TFG expenditure (over US$12 million) was absorbed by the offices of the three top leaders — the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament. This represented roughly half of the TFG’s domestic income. In 2010-11 alone, almost US$1.5 million in passport revenues went missing. Yet the very government top leaders who misused the public funds are today presidential hopeful. It is unfortunate that most of the Somalis are not concerned for what is happening and the government officials misusing their funds in the name of the Somali people.

Great leaders have to be trustworthy and have to demonstrate that they are role model and lead by example. Great leaders know that they do not know everything and feel that they can learn from their mistakes. Great leaders are those who understand the complexity of tasks. Therefore, it is vital that leaders to be flexible and have an open mind. Trustworthiness, task competence, need for achievement, stamina, decisiveness and mutual respect and other qualities are all very important.


The Somali people should demand that strict requirement be set for the MPs and presidential candidates. Their academic credentials and personal integrity should be scrutinized and verified so as to prevent fraud, corruption and war criminals.

Somalia is you and me. Therefore, we should demand to let light through how the revenue is being spent. The greater the public exposure, the less abuse of power will occur or go unpunished.

Women did not get their portion in the previous administration. Therefore, this is the high time that they should be given their share, the thirty percent requested. They are united and striving for a common purpose and they can contribute a lot to the development and reconstruction process.

Important to good governance and democracy is multiparty system. The absence of political parties in Somalia is a constant source of debate. Political pluralism should be introduced. It allows for greater deliberation in government and gives voters greater choice of candidates or policies to vote for. It would have been the best way to prevent corrupted leaders to come to power.

Osman Jabane

 Political commentator on the horn of Africa.