Monday, November 29, 2010

Its now or never in Somalia.

By Guled Mohamed

November 29, Mogadishu – “What should we do to turn around our country’s troubles?” I recently tossed this question to a group of journalists visiting the capital Mogadishu who had come to cover the latest Somalia upheavals.

My intention was to create a brainstorming session about the problems facing the Horn of African country and the best possible solutions to end the nearly 20 years of chaos.

My timing of the question was perfect as it caught everyone unawares on a cool serene night in Mogadishu. It elicited a well heated and honest response from the six visiting foreign journalists and seven of my colleagues.

This discussion happened hours after parliament approved a cabinet of technocrats appointed by the new Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo”

Many ideas came out of this rare session held late at night close to the Indian Ocean.

The below statements stood out among many brilliant ideas.

Somalia needs a charismatic leader who can rally the masses and who will be above petty clan interests to steer the country out of its current debacle.

Somalia needs an economic development to bring about hope to the majority poor population giving them a reason to live and stop them from supporting extremists groups.

Somalia needs security that can only be achieved if the government pays its soldiers.

The internationally community should stop the lip service and genuinely help Somalia get out of the mess.

The Somali government is a sham. It is corrupt and ineffective. The Somali people need a government that is both sensitive to their needs and which

At the end of the day, nothing can be achieved without the local population taking the lead in solving their problems.

All the above ideas and many more others that I have not made public conclusively point to one major solution: Somalia needs a pragmatic leader or simply a saviour who should be patriotic and honest in order to lead the masses to a better future.

It said that leaders are born and not made.

I can’t wait to see that leader emerging in the ruins of the never-ending conflict that has ravaged Somalia.

I have a feeling that we might not wait for too long to see a glimpse of this leader Somalia badly needs at this hour of need.

President Sheikh Sharif’s recent appointment of PM Farmajo, a relatively unknown personality within Somalia’s political elite might actually be a good start for Somalia if what is said about the young Premier is anything to go by.

My instincts tell me that new PM Farmajo has all the qualities to be that rare leader who has eluded Somalis.

If my instincts come to happen, then Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, Somalia’s current president will take the credit for his latest appointment.

The president, PM and the new cabinet has nine months to turn around the huge challenges into a success.

Farmajo has just appointed a lean cabinet of 18 ministers comprised mainly of technocrats from the Diaspora. After weeks of politicking, canvassing and opposition by parliament, the Somali lawmakers finally approved the cabinet.

Their single most important task ahead is the rampant insecurity that has made it impossible for the interim government to provide much-needed services to the war-weary populace.

Is Farmajo, the saviour Somalia has been waiting for?

Many ordinary Somalis believe so.

However, time will tell.

One last advice to Farmajo and his new team.

Please break away from the old politics of clan, nepotism, corruption and unnecessary visits to regional and western capitals that previous cabinet members were known to do.

Get your priorities right by securing Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia. Resuscitate the collapsed state by ensuring all ministries are operational in Mogadishu. We are tired of the so-called-briefcase ministries and the behind the scenes shoddy dealings in the name of Somalia.

Please pay government police and military and other government civil servants and slowly and carefully implement quick economically viable projects that will provide jobs and livelihoods to the poor population.

Nothing will happen overnight. You will have to be patient and expect a real battle from individuals and groups who have no intention of change in Somalia and whose sole aim is to maintain the status quo for their own selfish gains.