When a tragedy befalls a nation, the fear and devastation cause the nation to bond together and become one with a course of action. It’s the time where good leaders lead the way out of the devastation to ensure security and a sense of safety for the public. The national tragedy and the heinous criminal act that had befallen Somalia on October 14, 2017, was the most devastating for a country where tragedy and daily ruin have become the norm. There were senseless death and casualties of many beautiful, purposeful innocent lives. This single blast had sent shock waves throughout the nation in a way that still rings with chills.
What was different for this tragic murderous rampage was the number of lives lost in seconds and the amount of damage and loss. People wailed and mourned in public and private and their only way out of the fear and mayhem of collapse was to look to their leaders for assurances. So far, Somalia’s leaders have not made any tangible progress in securing peace and stability in Mogadishu nor have they conducted the much needed meticulous, exhaustive and vigorous investigation of the recent blasts—which have increased in frequency and potency assuring deadlier much targeted tactics that seem precise and daring.
It took more than two weeks and the death and injuries of close to 1,000 innocent people to fire Somalia’s head of the National Intelligence Services (NISA) and the Police Commissioner. Though too little too late, it is however a commendable step forward by Farmajo’s government, which is known for its slow and plodding actions. The question that many are asking today is: how many more innocent Somali lives need to be lost before holding accountable the government’s top security officials such as the Minister of Security? And why hasn’t the government carried out a complete overhaul of the country’s Security Sector?
It’s important to note that, soon after assuming the office of the presidency, President Farmajo called on April 2017 for a massive national campaign to combat Al Shabab, stating while in a military uniform, that he would take the fight to Al Shabab. That strong and needed message was followed by non-action where not a single step worthy of the famous promise was taken to combat the deadly extremists and their scrupulous deadly attacks. On the contrary, Al Shabab radicals have become emboldened by capturing new territories, such as Bariire in Lower Shabelle, and even attacking areas in Jubbaland and the South West regions since President Farmajo assumed office.
This is not the first tragedy that had afflicted the country and it will not be the last. It is unfortunate, however, that Somalia, at this critical juncture is in short supply of capable and competent leaders who are up to the persistent challenge the country faces. Our leaders are unable to mobilize the country to lead it to a safe, secure and better future. Case in point, when the October 14 tragedy took place in Mogadishu, most of the heads of the government were busy attending to the injured victims thereby jamming the relief work and hindering the smooth operations of emergency services, which are the sole responsibilities of the Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management and the Ministry of Health as well as other agencies that have experience on how to handle tragedies. Moreover, these high ranking officials, including the PM and cabinet ministries, came to the scene of the blast with their full security details and conveys, subsequently slowing down the relief operations and posing security threats not only to themselves but to the throng of mourning public around them.
It was inexcusable that the Cabinet didn’t convene for an emergency meeting after the October 14 blast to put forth measures to increase the security of the capital. Instead, it has postponed its weekly Thursday Cabinet Meeting! This is a clear indication of lack of leadership and the confusion that blared the judgment and the prioritization of the Cabinet and office of the presidency at a time of national emergency.
It was also bizarre and equally embarrassing to read Sanbalooshe, then head of the NISA director, publish a letter in the New York Times, tragically titled Somalia doesn’t need tears, complaining about his failure to do his job!
This single publication has shown the complete and dire indifference and out of touch manner and the steep incompetence of the security leadership who have been given authority to safeguard the lives and precious future of young people who have worked hard to win against the continuous odds that surrounds them. Tears were needed and shed for the lost of something so beautiful and dear to us all. Tears were the only free hope we as people had and we shed them with tremendous sadness and regret of the lives that you as the person at the helm couldn’t safeguard. This audacious self expression at a time of utmost loss for families added to the gapping wounds of the country and stabs at the absolute neglect of top leaders who are unable, incapable or unwilling to do their most important job.
The lack of concrete action plan, the volume deafness that exist with the president and his PM, his top security official was indeed sleep at the wheel and the consequences was as tragic as it’s vexing. It’s equally appalling that the same failed Minister of Security is still at his job. To add insult to all the injuries we have witnessed, with the exception of Sanbalooshe and Saacid, not a single individual is thus far held accountable for the breach and breakdown of security on the October 14 tragedy. Worse yet, the parliament has not called anyone for questioning, not the president, his prime minister, or any of the security heads. Its business as usual in the capital city as if one of the darkest days of our history has not occurred only a few weeks back. Farmajo and his leaders as well as both houses of parliament are dealing with this tragedy with the most utter normalcy.
A different mindset and a more bold set of priorities must be put in place in order for the government to take a comprehensive security measures to safeguard the country, that includes:
- A complete overhaul of the leadership of the security sectors
- A thorough system of quality control of all security agencies
- Appointing capable, knowledgeable, and skilled leaders for security agencies
- Create and develop a robust human inteligence network
- A political settlement has to be reached between the Federal Government and the Regional governments
- An investigation and corrective measures of the obstacles that are hindering the building, equipping, and modernizing the national army
- A new military offensive operation by AMISOM and the Somali National Army to liberate territories controlled by Al-Shabab
- An economic and sustainable financial plan for the Somali National Army.
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