By Abdi Mohamud
There is no doubt that every Somali is concerned about the many challenges, confronting the Somali nation. These challenges are multiple and multi-dimensional. Insecurity, lack of economic opportunities, rampant poverty, inadequate health care system. The rudimentary and often fragmented education system, never-ending, and destructive clan rivalry are a few examples of many impactful issues that are daily realities for the Somali people. People get overwhelmed by hardships and resort to such desperate measures as falling into the hands of Alshabab or taking long, and grueling trips to foreign lands with little or no prospect for success. For the majority of people in Somalia, life is unbearable. They have lost the ability to live a decent life. They are hungry, unsafe, hopeless, stressed, subjugated, brutalized by evil forces with a human face. The blood-sucking, parasitic Alshabab, the unscrupulous businesspeople, the corrupt government officials are among many that have debased the Somali people and robbed them of decency and dignity.
The situation being as grave as it is, it is baffling that none of you have attempted to pay attention to these serious issues. It seems that you have made one issue your priorities. And by doing so, you limit your choices to serve the nation. You limit your ability to make a difference in people’s life. It seems that you are preoccupied with Villa Somalia and its occupants. In other words, you are concerned with politics at the federal level, avoiding other pressing and equally important issues. While you have the right to express your opinions, it seems that your engagements in this area have not been fruitful. You have not been able to accomplish anything meaningful by your occasional political commentary. I am not sure if this can be categorized as a failure, but I know that your essays may not be deemed as positive, uplifting, or celebratory for the achievements of the Somali people abroad and at home.
The resiliency of Somali people is exemplary. Somalis are gaining ground while facing daunting tasks. They are winning awards at international venues and some are even considered as serious contenders for the coveted Nobel Prize. Notable among these are members of the well-known humanitarian Elman family. Somali Telecom companies manage to provide the cheapest internet services in Africa to their customers. The Federal Government is praised for prudent, responsible fiscal management, which has led to the admiration and trust of International Partners (IPs). As a result, Somalia is qualified for debt forgiveness with many creditors choosing to cancel their debt to our country. A couple of days ago, the media reported that the French Government relieved Somalia of its debt amounting to $306 million.
This French beneficence will give a much-needed respite to the Somali people as resources going to debt servicing will be directed to investing in our economy. The Somalis will always remain grateful to the French for their generosity. These are a few examples of good things that are happening in our country worthy of reporting and celebrating. Unfortunately, I have never seen anyone of you weighing in on these significant feats. Why? It may be appropriate if I let you answer that question as my contemplation on it may not serve justice sufficiently.
Now, I wish to return to the purpose of this essay, which is the reason I am dissatisfied and well, perhaps disappointed with your analysis, which usually falls short of expectation. I am informed that Dr. Mohamud M. Uluso is an economist with a doctoral degree as the credentials attached to his name inform us. Being a man with a profound knowledge of economics, one would expect Dr. Ususo to comment and give guidance on economic matters. He could write about wide-ranging topics that would benefit both the private and public sectors. His analysis of taxation, investment, corruption, poverty reduction, and job creation would be useful for many people. His insight and expertise would be valued and appreciated. He would play a key role in reviving our economy and defining methods and practices that will lead the nation to economic well being, and prosperity. I believe that Dr. Uluso would serve the nation better if he put some effort into areas where he has expertise and that his actions would deliver some benefits to the Somali people. I am aware that Dr. Uluso had some aspirations for the presidency. It is reported that he once competed for the coveted seat with no success. And it is possible that he is still eyeing it. His essays are usually critical of the Somali Government. He directly speaks to the IPs, demanding them to implement punitive measures against Somali people and their government. He may be delighted to see IPs imposing on Somali people a crushing financial and political punishment. Is that desirable? Is it a good strategy to force Somali people to accept, and adopt plans crafted by others against their own will? Will anything good be accomplished by doing so? I let Dr. Uluso answer these questions.
It is the same story for Dr. Aweys O. Mohamud, in that he may not be concentrating on what he could do the best in terms of his service to the nation. I have no knowledge of the good doctor, other than what he shares with the public. Dr. Aweys informs us that he was educated in the UK where he was awarded a doctoral degree. So, I understand that Dr. Aweys is a specialist in education. In recent essays on the website www.wardheernews.com, he stated that had worked with the Federal Government of Somalia for 3 years as an education advisor. It is not clear what transpired his job loss. It remains unknown if he completed his contract term, got fired, or chose to quit the job? Whatever the case may be, he lost his advisory role and left Somalia for his permanent residence in the UK. Upon return to the UK, Dr. Aweys started writing a few successive essays on Somalia. I believe the first piece of his writings was posted on www.wardheernews.com on Feb 28, 2020. In that piece, he lamented the difficulties confronting the Somali people, particularly those living in Mogadishu. Dr. Aweys promised that he would write about his experiences in his work in the education sector in Somalia. I looked forward to the publication of the piece on education with much delight and enthusiasm because I was hoping that Dr. Aweys would unveil ground-breaking solutions that would remedy our crippled education sector.
My hope was that Dr. Aweys would take some actions that would benefit many bright, intelligent but disadvantaged Somali children. Many things came to my mind, anticipating that Dr.Aweys would form an organization specializing in education matters, create an education fund or take some other initiative that would have a long, positive impact on the education sector. I do not recall that piece on education published as promised and I believe the plan has never been materialized. Instead, Dr.Aweys directed his focus on criticizing, discrediting, and belittling President Farmajo and other senior officials in his government. Are criticism and scorn for our leaders all we are capable of doing? I should say I was disappointed with Dr. Aweys.
Strangely, Dr. Aweys announced about a week ago that he was going to run for the presidency in Somalia. What makes this announcement strange is that Dr. Aweys launched his presidential campaign half-way through the world from the country he is hoping to preside over. Dr. Aweys’ plan is not tenable for the fact that 1) he is away from the epicentre of action for the presidency, and 2) that he is disadvantaged as he does not have the connections and resources that many of the contenders enjoy. Considering all these factors, one may wonder if Dr Aweys is serious about this project.
Now I come to the erudite, literati, and public intellectual, Mr. Faisal Roble. I think Mr. Roble is a smart, wise gentleman with a career preeminence. He has worked with the City of Los Angeles for many years, holding senior positions. The fact that he has been able to fit in and work his way up through thick bureaucracy walls, and perhaps through many opposing interest groups is a testimony to his smartness and wisdom. Mr Roble had also been an editor-in-chief of the leading Somali website, www.wardheernews.com close to half a dozen years. He is usually engaged in writing, interviews and debates on different issues. While his advocacy, engagement, and writings are commendable, the impact of these activities on the Somali people could be insignificant.
I believe there are some better ways through which Mr. Roble can produce more impactful results that will have direct benefit on people’s livelihood as well as their environment. There is no doubt that he has been involved in the implementation of many large scale projects designed to improve people’s livelihood, and also enhance the livability of their city. Crime reduction, area economic revitalization, and mitigation of environmental degradation could be some examples of the types of projects, Mr. Roble has played a key role in designing, implementing, and monitoring their success. It would not be too much to ask Mr. Roble to make his mission transferring and sharing his know-how through his writings, seminars and other venues. He can enlist the support of his friends, use his connections and implement small scale projects modeled on the big ones in which he has been involved. He can choose any city or town in our country and demonstrate ways of achieving something or bringing about change through citizen-driven initiatives. This should be free from much government involvement at least at the federal and state level because the objective here is to enable our people to have the realization and confidence to act locally and unite for the common good. This may take time, need much thinking, and resources but it is worth trying.
Gentlemen, I have decided to write this essay, hoping to create awareness, dialogue and perhaps action. My intention is not to discredit, malign or offend but to encourage to do more and do what they are good at. After all, aren’t PhD holders supposed to be critical thinkers and problem solvers? I often read stories about individuals and occasionally meet some who have left the West for their home countries and made a difference in people’s lives. Among them are Indians, Nigerians, Ghanaians and even some Ethiopians, our next door neighbors. So this is a general message to all Somalis who have the ability to help in ways other than political. The political field is already overcrowded with too many people engaged in all sorts of political discourse with little or no progress at all.
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