Monday, October 03, 2022
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Somalia: Institution Building Inspired by the Principles of PM Abdirisak Haji Hussein

By Roble Dahir

Somalia is a country that is recovering from protracted civil war, bad governance and political conflicts.  These issues have made it a hven for armed militias, terrorists and unscrupulous businessmen who have taken advantage of the circumstances related to the weak government institutions and instability to further their malign agendas. For its restructuring, it is important Somalia to follow the path of those countries that have recovered from similar kinds of destruction and instability such as South Africa, Rwanda or others in Africa and beyond.

Former PM Abdirizak Haji Hussein

Building effective institutions and human resource capacities, is key to peace, stability and economic development of the country. Thus, to follow and implement a strategic process for reconstruction, reconciliation, enhancement of security, equitable resource-sharing, establishment of productive economic foundations through institution-building, the mechanism for this in Somalia is to recruit permanent Director Generals, as a technical and non-political taskforce to establish administrative pillars.

In the 1960s, during the civil administration, the second Prime Minister, Abdirisak Haji Hussein, built his strong reputation in the history of the Somalia. His work was not a miracle, but an exhibition of courage, wisdom and perseverance to build institutions with administrative capacities, eradicate corruption and promote accountability. PM Hussein is remembered for two things in the history of Somali public governance. Firstly, he orchestrated good governance, responsible administration, adoption of measures to help fight corruption and enhancement of accountability in various sectors of the government. Secondly, he ensured placement of the right people for efficiency in service delivery. For instance, he not only chose the most effective political officers (ministers) but he also concentrated on appointing Director Generals with relevant knowledge and managerial skills to run their respective dockets. He drew his inspiration from the government’s slogan: “Competence and Transparency” which can be translated in Somali as “Karti iyo Hufnaan”. Of the two words, ‘Karti’ means having young educated people with administrative capacities and competence who can build institutions for the prosperity of the new State. ‘Hufnaan’ signified his willingness to appoint people with values especially integrity and those who are aware that they will be held accountable in case of mismanagement.

The Cabinet of PM Hussein contained representatives from all the regions and clans. However, he nominated Director Generals with the right qualifications and administrative skills, irrespective of where they came from (though the majority happened to come from the Northern regions). In this short article, I am not comparing the current PM, H.E. Hamse Abdi Barre with the late Abdirisak Haji Hussein, but I wish to remind PM Barre that “institution building” is still a priority for the Somali nation and needs to go through a process that suits a post-conflict country. I know the process of institution building requires further and meticulous considerations in dealing with political challenges, power sharing, application of context, reconstruction and selection of people under various circumstances.

To take the readers back, after the period of the civilian government that I am referring to, there followed two other stages of administration. Of interest is the military rule in which the fledgling institutions of Somalia were enslaved and confined to the hands of one person who also abolished the existing laws, arrested many promising people and in the process killed many of them. No institutions were successfully developed or established during the 20 years of the military rule, apart from some premises, roads and other infrastructural projects. It is during the time of the civil war where immense destruction and led to the obliteration of the institutions of Somali the Republic.

PM Hamse’s government is expected to achieve great success and apply state-building approaches in establishing, reforming and strengthening the national institutions which primarily comprise social service, security, justice, political and economic development entities so as to attain a prosperous, peaceful and democratic Somalia. It is worth noting that, the most important element of state-building is consideration of the “fragility” aspect in institutional development. In Somalia, this can be effectively considered in the adoption of viable reconciliatory tools and federalization.

As a matter of fact, Somalia could be top of the list for the most fragile countries in the region whose institutions cannot show the basic characteristics of operation, such as delivering basic services, addressing insecurity, effective handling of economic crises, boosting of poor administration structures and mitigating political instability. So, building of the institutions in Somalia could be affected by the current situation and status quo, predominantly the political instability and limited resources. The leaders of the institutions such as Ministers and Director Generals are the most important figures in the government who can help in building them. However, it is for the Prime Minister to choose the right persons to perform well, respond and apply mechanisms for institution building.

The choice of the ministers was partially related totheir input in the campaigns, clan, political affiliations and other political variations (e.g. the circumstances that made Mukhtar Robow a minister). Therefore, I would advise PM Barre to concentrate on building institutions and governance structures that are resistant to negative influences. This can be achieved through a process of adopting reforms that engage qualified Director Generals equipped with knowledge, experience and administrative qualities that are necessary for the tasks in question. It’s unwise for ministers to have the power to change the Director Generals as this would result the ministry having two new officials who have limited experiences and/or information necessary to run the tasks that need to be expedited. On the contrary, there must be a procedure and law that gives them (Minister and Director General) room to work together and divide the responsibilities to create stable working environment and in which neither is afraid of being sacked without justifiable reasons under the laws of the land. If the minister has the power to change the Director General, who is the key person of the institution, it implies that every minister will always look for someone he already knows and trusts to work for him and that may weaken the support that is expected in the process of building capable institutions for this post-conflict country.

The Ministry of Interior of the Federal Government of Somalia – mandated with handling high priority portfolios and roles such as working on national reconciliation, stabilization, federalization and dealing with politically contentious constitutional and inter-governmental issues – has had with six Director Generals in five years. This is a similar case in many ministries in the Federal Government. This law-conflicting power exercised by Ministers (which contradicts articles 99, 116, 117 of the provisional constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia and the civil servants’ law) is clearly hindering Somalia from building and capacitating its institutions.

In conclusion, officials with a combination of knowledge, experience, competence and capacity appointed as stipulated in the provisional constitution’s articles 177 and 90(k), under the supervision of their respective Ministers and with respect to the law, could establish administrative structures, conform to the required supportive strategies, delegate the tasks to capacitate the departments for effective performance and ensure federalism principles and practices are applied to ensure that national institutions collaborate with State government departments.

Roble Dahir
Email:[email protected]

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MA in Peace, Governance and Development


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