Editor’s Note: To gauge the opinion of President Farmajo’s government after “one year in office”. WardheerNews tasked our senior contributor’s to analyze and evaluate the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia’s performance on a range of issues and categories that includes leadership, good governance, national security, foreign policies, public financial management, combating corruptions, and mismanagement. We also asked to evaluate whether President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo kept his campaign promises. WardheerNews is pleased to present part II of the report card.
By Liban Farah
How does one judge a president who presided over a period of predominantly negative and deteriorating political environment, especially one caused by his presidency’s own volition to always gravitate towards impotence without fail? I won’t bother for now, as first and foremost, there simply appears to be no method to this president’s madness. Every campaign promise made by Farmaajo was clearly either done without carefully planned coherent policy formulations in mind, or in bad faith without the least intention to deliver in the event he was selected for office. Perhaps he didn’t expect to win the race. But he did. Needless to point out, nearly every promise made was subsequently broken.
This segment won’t point out Farmaajo’s major political failures or the disasters he brought down on the country as, I’m sure, plenty of others will. But I want to focus my attention on one critical area which may not get the importance it deserves. Farmaajo made the fight against Al-Shabaab his priority, twice declared state of war in the country and never wasted any opportunity to promise the nation his impending victory over the terrorists. Yet, his one-year tenure resulted in the highest fatalities and the single deadliest month, week and day in recent history. Here’s where we judge.
Although there has been a clear upward trend in terms of the conflict in Somalia getting deadlier overall, Farmaajo oversaw a consecutive year-on-year fatality increase for the first time in the last ten years. In other words, expected decrease of violent fatalities in every other year relative to the preceding year was dodged by Farmaajo presidency!
Speaking of expectations, having prioritised security, one would at least expect appropriate budgeting to translate such commitments into practical reality. However the appropriated defence and security budget has remained relatively constant at about 1/3rd of total budget – I haven’t seen 2018 budget yet, but Wakiil has reported that 32.7% was “allocated for security.”
We have all witnessed Farmaajo several times, in an attempt to conceal this exact failure (to match his words with actions by allocating necessary funds) resorting to empty rhetoric as means of recruiting unarmed volunteers on the cheap or speaking disapprovingly about soldiers expecting to be paid for risking their lives to fight at the frontlines or die for their country. This, in a country with a minimum of $1.5b annual “security” expenditure, would sound like a comical satire to anyone hearing this for the first time.
This president is a fraud and a conman just like his fellow card-carrying Republican equivalent in the White House.
Farmajo’s first year: Challenges and Achievements
By Hussein Soyan
It is difficult to judge the success or failure of a post-civil war president by the first year in office and it is equally difficult to measure if a sitting president succeeded politically before his re-election. However, president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo’s approval rating among all Somalis, when he took office was the highest, compared to any other incoming presidents since the independence.
Some critics have stated that Farmaajo has promised more hope and change than he has thus far delivered. However, it is indisputably true that Farmaajo inherited a famine-wracked country shattered by years of anarchy and run by power-hungry regional presidents who serve more to the interest of foreign entities, as well as continuous foreign interferences that made it impossible to deliver on these promises.
A major achievement by Farmaajo’s government was the dispute between Qatar and other Arab states in which the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) firmly remained neutral. This was a historic test of Somalia’s sovereignty and maturity, coming out of tested years of governance. Such a decision which can potentially alienate key allies is not only difficult but brave – a rare commodity in Somali politicians. As a result Somali communities received unprecedented respect and admiration throughout the world to the extent that many countries praised the Somali government’s policy independence.
Another major example is that PM Khayre enjoyed much more freedoms to run his office without much interference from the president. This is a rare occurrence not seen in previous presidents who have always meddled with the PM’s office to further their own personal agendas. It was the right move on the part of the president to allow his PM to set his own policies. However, the responsibility of delivering those policies rests squarely on the Prime Minister.
Surprisingly, the level of support Farmaajo had received in Puntland and Galmudug were much higher than his predecessors Hassan Sheikh and Sheikh Sharif Ahmed when they visited the same regions. Taking into account the distance Somalia has come since farmaajo’s election, this young government’s policy achievements are admirable. Some examples of successes one can point to; are reductions in corruption, increase of revenue, the lowering unemployment rates, brokered reconciliation agreement between Ahlu-Sunnah and Galmudug. These few examples alone are enough to argue farmaajo’s first year was an extraordinary success.
It needs to be acknowledged that one major issue during his one year Presidency has left a severe scar and trauma with many Somalis – is the handover of Qalbi Dhagax. While this incident is extremely painful for Somali sovereignty, it has to be judged against his one year track record and the track records of all presidents since the collapse of Somalia. To be fair, every president has the right to make one or two major mistakes. Farmaajo in one year has been able to balance this mistake with many positive achievements. He has four more years to continue his positive track record that may heal the wounds left by Qalbi Dhagax.
Currently, there is a growing national concern among Somalis that President Farmaajo’s legacy is under threat. Some interest groups who serve foreign elements have pledged to undo much of what the president has achieved, including threat to return to a state of civil war and reversing important executive actions undertaken by President (his ban of the sales of public land). But judging from his zero tolerance policy towards corruption and clannish politics and no drama demeanor, this president will once again rise above these political challenges that have tested his office thus far.
Overall, president Farmaajo has led Somalia through a challenging set of policies that have made him admired while he continues to tread tough waters.
Hussein Soyan is a Finance expert who worked with international institutions and was a Senior Advisor for the Federal Government of Somalia. He writes often about banking and politics.
Farmajo One-Year Review: Part III will follow soon.
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