Written by Deeq S Yusuf
Ever since the adoption of the National Roadmap process, which is the brainchild of the incumbent Prime Minister Professor Abdweli Mohamed Ali, to end the transition in September, 2011, all predictions have overwhelmingly shown that there is the desire among the entire Somali people to work hard, strive for excellence and build a beautiful country. Such an outcome would have been almost impossible to imagine a year ago today when the Prime Minister assumed his present role in war ravaged Somalia in June, 2011. In a recent event held on the 7th of August, 2012 in Mogadishu and across the country where he publicly declared his candidacy for the top job and attended by thousands of his supporters, the PM presented his vision for Somalia when he said: ‘’My vision, like all other visioning exercises, is first and foremost a collective effort to design a better future. It is premised on the basic principle that reconciliation, rehabilitation and development starts and ends with the people. It is a paradigm to showcase that people are willing and ready to work together to build a new nation. The hard-work invested in the Roadmap process has empowered the Somali people to believe with every fiber of conviction that it is the time for a change and that a better future can be created with the commitment of all. In essence, they are craving for a national renaissance. They want to blend the best of their African/Islamic traditions with the best of western and other traditions to create a unique and new Somalian culture that is robust and would provide a basis for national transformation.’’ In a nutshell, the Prime Minister’s historic vision summarizes the priority areas in a number of important themes as the mainstay for the much-vaunted change for the country’s rebuilding agenda and sustainable development. I will touch on these themes later in my discussions.
There is no denying the fact that Professor Abdiweli has received accolades both locally and internationally since he became the Prime Minister of the TFG in June, 2011. One thing that is clear is that Professor Abdiweli has not changed as a person. He is still humble, respects his contemporaries and those around him. This is why each time the Prime Minister makes a public appearance he conjures the admiration of children, men and women, the old people including the disabled persons. The Prime Minister’s stature, steadfastness and good works has earned him the respect across all segments of the Somali society. The basic fact about him is that he is down to earth, always mingling with all the stakeholders and listens to their concerns: that shows a tacit inclination to give voice to the voiceless in the country’s political dispensations. With his academic background as an Economist coupled with his vast leadership experiences, I believe his robust vision will be the most effective and sustainable solution to the mosaic of problems in Somalia and a way out of the conflict and poverty quagmire, and a crucial means of getting our youth to become a productive segment of the society. His statement reflects that the nation rebuilding process is people-centered, strategic and long-term in orientation. Take it or leave it, it is a fact skeptics in Somalia and abroad would be ashamed to deny or rebuff.
Prime Minister Abdiweli set the ball rolling in his ambitious visionary planto guide Somalia towards a new direction, a fresh start away from labels such as: “the world’s worst failed state” – back to the proud independent nation we’ve always been, a nation of autonomous, vital, self-reliant men and women, the nation of poets, respected in this part of the world for nearly a millennia. Somalia is more than hungry faces in the news, pirates or extremists; it is a diverse, rich land with historical pedigree. He explains his agenda as follows: ‘’My agenda is the people’s agenda as I will strive to ensure national ownership of the rebuilding agenda, to strengthen the nascent democratic culture, and to support a more participatory reconciliation process. More to the point, my vision gives a strategic diagnosis of the country’s past and its present situation, presents alternative possible national futures, and sets out the future that the Somali people long for. In view of this, the initial focus of my government will be the rehabilitation of schools, health facilities, clean water supply, housing and roads until an adequate service can be supplied to all areas of the country equitably’’
On the security and stabilisation programme, the Prime Minister based his ambition on the well known fact that there can be no stability, economic or social progress without secure environment. Significant progress has been achieved on many fronts, in particular the tremendous efforts by the National Security Forces, working in partnership with AMISOM and regional neighbours, to liberate Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Lower Juba, Upper Juba, Galgadud, Hiiraan, Bay, Gedo, and Banadir. Expanding on his agenda, the Prime Minister explained that his ‘’priority from the offset was to secure the country and we have succeeded in achieving this goal. We have improved the overall security in the country, especially the capital city, Mogadishu, thanks in large part to the selfless efforts of our national army, in conjunction with the African Union troops. We will continue in that direction until we secure the entire country. We will redouble our efforts by creating a well disciplined and professional security forces. ‘’
At this juncture, it is important to highlight that when the Prime Minister took the office in June, 2011, electricity supply in most of Mogadishu districts and its immediate environs was almost non-existent. That even exposed Mogadishu to its counterpart cities as the darkest city in the world. But within a short space of three months, when Prime Minister Professor Abdiweli took power, the darkest city of the world was immediately transformed into the newest city with its illuminating lights shedding its rays across Mogadishu and the immediate environs.
Common sense dictates, that building the human capital is a must prerequisite in reviving the state of the public health and education services which has massively deteriorated ever since the collapse of the Somali central state more than two decades ago. Elaborating on this important policy goal, the Prime Minister reiterated that ‘my government will strive to improve both the quality and quantity of its human resources, through the widespread provision of and equitable access to quality education and other essential social services for all its citizens. Obviously, this will require a substantial amount of investment and a considerable effort to redress traditional gender biases and other forms of inequalities that militate against equitable access to social services. A well-educated and innovative population that is endowed with a vibrant entrepreneurial class, high labour productivity and an inclination towards wealth accumulation should characterize the new Somali society.’’
On education, the Prime Minster is cognizant of the lack of viable, publicly funded institutions led by trained teachers and administrators. In preparing our youth for the challenges of tomorrow, the Prime Minister has strategised the following programs:
Informal education: Create short-term programs such as vocational training to enable job seekers access to job market.
Formal education: The focus will be on secondary and tertiary education to prepare students with the educational foundation and tools to partake in the high skilled sectors of the economy.
- Building advanced educational institutions and first class research centers in the long terms, which will produce graduates capable of competing in the global market place, and enhance the country’s future productivity.
Recognizing that a healthy individual is key to the country’s economic growth and acknowledging that without healthy workers in place, economic growth will stutter along and lag behind, the Prime Minister outlined that: ‘’ My government will promote and encourage maternal health reproductive healthcare, child survival and responsible parenthood. We will encourage and train communities to participate and sustain their personal health and wellbeing, through personal hygiene, lifesaving skills, safe water management, health infrastructure maintenance and environmental health. Equally, we will work to prevent and reduce incidence and prevalence of preventable diseases such as malaria, dysentery and communicable diseases including tuberculosis and build capacity for research, care and counseling, provide accessible, affordable and quality mental health services nationwide, provide safe drinking water to all communities, within 0.5 kilometers of households and encourage the use of pipe-borne water in all urban houses.’’
Implementing sound monetary and fiscal policies will create jobs by rekindling the livelihood sources of ordinary Somalis, including the fisheries, livestock, agriculture, exploitation of known and prospective hydrocarbon and other natural resources. This is necessary in order to build a growing and competitive economy. Cognisant of this, the Prime Minister stated that ‘’my government shall therefore take genuine actions to enlarge the productive base of the economy, raise productivity and ensure that Somalia is competitive in the global marketplace. It is only a rapidly growing economy that will provide Somalia the tremendous amount of resources that will be needed to make our Vision a reality.’’
Fostering economic growth and developing effective poverty reduction strategies is the first step in the revival of Somalia. The vision acknowledges that a pillar of the government’s core objective will be to undertake the process of creating well paying and meaningful jobs for the citizens of our country. While there are no concrete data, it is estimated that our country’s unemployment is well over 80%. This level of unemployment is unsustainable and could hinder the reconciliation and reconstruction process. Moreover, security and durable peace will not exist without sustainable economic growth. And to that end, the program intend to match employers and job seekers by creating vocational job training schemes so that people can get into the job market quickly.
A major policy priority enshrined in the vision positively addresses the Herculean task of rebuilding social trust in a country that has experienced twenty odd years of divisive civil war. Highlighting his agenda on this crucial theme, the Prime Minster said ‘’citizens have little faith in institutions given that they have been inactive for a long time or mismanaged. This is not only a threat to social harmony, but could increase the likelihood of the country relapsing to the era of the mindless conflict, and present a significant challenge to the country’s long-term economic growth. We must rebuild trust between communities by designing an effective public policy, in particular, to build effective institutional capacity. This will be achieved by building a strong, partial and independent judicial system as an essential first step. This will be tied with the rebuilding of a disciplined, accountable security services. We have also to rebuild trust in public institutions by creating a responsive government to its citizens. Openness, transparency and equal access to public resources will the cornerstone policies of this new government’’
It is therefore paramount for the government to work hard to reconnect the broken social bonds between our communities in order for us to build a more cohesive and prosperous society for the present as well as the future generations. Besides, having been subjected to almost five decades of bad governance and two decade-long brutal civil conflict, I fully concur with the Prime Minister’s support for the Somali consensus – that there can be no other path to building a tolerant, stable, secure and well-managed country, other than through democratic governance. This is indeed an educated perspective as only good governance will provide genuine opportunities for successful development, promote the ongoing democratization process and encourage balanced socio-economic development.
Explaining on the important theme of federalism and the processes of effective distribution of power as enshrined in the new Constitution 2012, the PM made it clear that he will ‘’empower the regional states to deliver services and governance. Equally, development ought to take place on a nationwide basis as opposed to a Mogadishu-centric development. It will be necessary therefore, to devolve power to local levels so that people can have a say and control over the way they are governed as embodied in our new constitution. More to the point, democracy, tolerance, respect for human rights and empowerment of people are essential elements in the national transformation process. Democracy is not only an end result, but also a key strategy that will lead to the attainment of the national vision. It is, therefore, necessary that the nation begins to build a strong foundation for real democracy and tolerance in order to ensure that the mistakes of the past do not re-occur.’’
Clarifying his policy on maintaining a quality environment, the Prime Minister explained ‘’my government recognizes that the environment is the repository of all natural resources, which are exploited for national development and human livelihood. Besides, Somalis have always depended on their natural resource endowment for development. In view of this, my government fully recognizes the need for a well-planned and beautiful country to promote healthy living condition for the population and attract tourists and potential foreign investors; and the imperative of sustained exploitation and utilization of available natural resources to satisfy the needs of present and future generations.’’
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also continues to make international waves since he assumed power exactly a year ago for his huge achievements which can’t be covered in this short article. Suffice it to say that Prime Minister Professor Abdiweli commands international respect because of his sincerity, honesty and a sense of purpose as an African leader who has had the first litmus test in his political career. We would buttress the fact that it is through his leadership traits: sincerity, honesty and a sense of purpose that he is the only Somali leader in contemporary history who has a proven track record of visible achievements on the ground, the only person who gave us hope and national solace. No wonder, he has also been voted the best leader in Somalia as adjudicated last month by an international public media poll and by a majority of Somali news website polls.
Finally, President-to-be Professor Abdiweli has availed himself as a God-given leader Somalis are obliged to hail and work together with in all aspects of development in the wider swath of society for the betterment of the country and unborn children. What needs to be established is that to criticize the President-to-be is not an answer to the mosaic of problems of the country but it is rather wise for Somalis to put hands to the wheels for the expected national salvation and development as the President-to-be Professor Abdiweli is doing well in this direction. May God bless Somalia and 2012 be a good year for the Somalis.
Deeq S Yusuf is a Social Scientist based in London. He can be reached at email@example.com