The International Community, in the hope that Somalia was on the right track, has poured billions of dollars in peacekeeping, humanitarian and recovery programs since Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, a little-known NGO advocate was elected president in 2012 on vote-buying from Parliamentary deputies. Most of that aid that went to the Somali Government went down the drain. Once at the helm, President Hassan has been presiding over the most corruption-ridden era in Somalia’s history since independence. All the pressures and veiled sanctions from Somalia’s aid donors have failed to wean him off from his malpractices. President Hassan remains incorrigible and continues to thwart, willy-nilly, Somalia’s recovery and nation-building efforts.
No longer willing to pour their money on Hassan’s bottomless corruption pit, some donors have now cut off their aid, others reneged on it, while most simply pay through other trusted channels.
Sweeping over Somalia corruption panorama, what is noticeable is a manifestation of the saying that birds of the same feathers flock together: President Hassan is in company with similarly tainted characters who now hold the top echelons of the State. That is the case with the current Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid, who is linked with the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Somalia and Kenya, giving away Somalia’s territorial waters to Kenya in exchange for an undisclosed under the table pay-off during his previous term as Prime Minister under Sheikh Sharif’s presidency. So is the current Foreign Minister, Abdisalam Hadliye Omar, who was accused by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (UNSEMG) to have sanctioned the theft of millions of dollars from the Central Bank when he was its Governor for his benefit, the President and his close cronies.
Sadly corruption is not confined to the top brass of the government but permeates the whole government machinery. Under the President’s behest or his prerogatives, top posts of the State’s institutions and foreign service are selected not on competition and competence but nepotism to the extent that these national institutions are headed by unsuitable self-serving pseudo-warlords and clan members of the president and those who serve him, thus perpetuating the demise of the State and self-defeating the sacrifices that the Somalis and international community are making for nation-building.
Much thanks are due to the Monitoring Group for if it was not for it, none of the serial scandals would have been unearthed since there are no oversight institutions, or if they nominally exist, are rendered ineffective and toothless. Its latest report issued in August dwells on the unprecedented corruption by Soma Oil & Gas Holdings Limited, a British-owned company, which was awarded by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in August of 2013, an eye-watering generous contractual rights to undertake seismological surveying of potential gas and oil deposits along Somalia’s central and southern coastlines in an area spanning 60,000 km. This is in spite of being an upstart new company that has no track record in oil and gas exploration but exploitation. Almost the lion’s share from the potential proceeds will go to Soma Oil. In exchange for these give-away favours, Soma Oil & Gas Holdings Limited is being alleged by the Monitoring Group of fraudulently making payments to select employees of the Somali Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources totalling $600,000 and naming each of the beneficiaries. The PM and the president must be privy to this corruption as it has happened under their watch.
Another looming corruption spectacle manifests itself in ambassadorial appointments. One such case is President Hassan’s recent appointments of Mr. Abdirahman Abdishakur as Somalia’s Ambassador to the UN in New York, the same figure who was involved in the scandal of the secret deal with Kenya that would have given away a large chunk of Somalia’s coastline. The president also rushed with some unseemly haste in his appointment of Ms. Fadumo Abdullahi Mohamud (Insaniya) to fill the vacant ambassadorial post to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, almost on the same day its former incumbent, the late Yusuf Bari Bari, was assassinated in Mogadishu in March.
Just like her recently appointed ambassadorial colleagues, who amazingly bounce from practical unknowns to the spotlight, Ms. Fadumo has little or no experience in meeting the complex and specialized work of the embassy. Moreover, the UN and other international organisations based in Geneva have other more personally important and potentially rewarding use for President Hassan. According to reliable reports from Mogadishu, her main task in Geneva is to trace and retrieve for Somalia, aka the President, the millions of dollars of Somali funds stashed by Siyad Barre’s government in Swiss bank accounts. After the collapse of the Somali State, the Swiss Government froze the accounts in the face of rapacious Somali leaders all vying to lay their hands on these funds. President Hassan is following that well beaten track. Once again, the Somali people look to the UN Monitoring Group to monitor this undercover plan to rob national assets in Swiss banks.
President Hassan has failed to fulfil his mandates and deliver the commitments he undertook under Vision 2016. Instead, he has only created deep problems for a nation that was already fragile and broken. The longer he is around the more deep-rooted and intractable these problems will get. That is why the deputies are right to impeach him and get rid of him even if their motives are not altogether noble. But without him and a better and transformational leader, Somalia could pull itself up by its own bootstraps and mend its ways. In the meantime, Somalis, the international community and in particular the UN, should take a more robust role in leading Somalia to attain the objectives of the Vision, rather than drifting deeper into the wilderness under President Hassan.
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