WardheerNews named President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo as its person of the year for 2019 by reminding Somalis and friends of Somalia his dismal presidency and the setback he caused to the recovery of this fledgling federal entity. The choice is a deliberate means to increase the awareness of the Somalis and donor’s scrutiny of what went wrong in the last three years and how Somalis lost track of establishing a functioning, united, and secured federal governance.
It was only three years ago when the Somali nation hoped to regain its lost state. With Farmajo’s election by a clan-based dysfunctional yet fledgling parliament, enthusiasm was an all-time high since the early 1970s, and hope was in the air. Many expected that Farmajo would complete what his predecessor, former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, started – secure more territories from the terror groups, build Somalia’s national Army, effective government institutions and complete the federal system of Somalia.
Alas, starting his last year of a four-year term, Farmajo is presiding over a tattered and divided Somalia that has lost grounds in its journey to recap what Somalis called “geedi-socodka yegleelka dawlad Soomaaliyeed,” or the “journey to re-institute a working Somalia.” In solidarity with millions of Somalis who have concluded that the last three years are by far a lost opportunity, WardheerNews chooses President Farmajo as the most disappointing man in a long line of post-civil war presidents.
In Farmajo’s time, security is at an all-time low. Beginning in 2017, Somalia was subjected to some of the most devastating terrorist acts carried out by Al-Shabab. Too many incidents to count have been the reality of Somalis. Suffice here to highlight the Zoba incident in October, 2017, where over 500 people were killed, and thousands were wounded in addition to the loss of millions of dollars’ worth of businesses. On December 28, 2019, the year ended with a deadly truck packed with explosives that blew up at a crowded ex-control check point that took the lives of more than 80 people mostly university students and injuring more than 100 people.
Many opine that the free-willing of Al-Shabab terrorists since Farmajo took office is the unofficial blaring of the line that divides between Al-Shabaab and security forces, mainly NISA under the command of Fahad Yasin. Like many in the inner circle of Farmajo’s administration, Fahad grew up and was early in his youth baptized by the now-defunct Al-Itihad Al-Islamiya. Later, he joined some still functioning hard-core Islamist sleeper cells that are integral parts of Al-Shabab’s urban underground soldiers. Many intelligence files possessed by neighboring countries as well as several diplomats in the region attest to the fact that Mr. Fahad still maintains confidential and high-level contact with al-Shabaab leadership.
Another area where the Farmajo administration short-changed the nation’s solemn objectives is by his inability to curb corruption. In defiance of world experts and Somali professionals, President Farmajo consistently blocked reputable effort to stop corruption. He also undermined all efforts to establish an independent anti-corruption commission, corrupting the recruitment process of the anti-corruption commission, despite his repeated promise to fight a run-away corruption culture in his government. Farmajo’s government also has failed to ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, which are some of the key reasons that Somalia is being ranked as the most corrupt country in the world, by several renown anti corruption institutions, including the Transparency International and Mo Ibrahim Index African Governance (IIAG).
As if that was not enough, the government does not provide any services to the residents of Mogadishu or to any region in the entire country. The only thing that its good at, is attending conferences and occasionally convening less productive inter-regional cross-training or seminars for ministries of the member states most of whom have already severed relationship with Villa Somalia. To date, Puntland, Jubbaland, and Galmudug are not within the sphere of influence of Villa Somalia. Southwest and Hirshabeles don’t exist as full fledged member states. And Somaliland closed its doors to any form of talks with Villa Somalia.
One of the gains since the Arte reconciliation conference hosted by Djibouti in 2000 was the establishment of a legislative body that was supposed to be independent of the Executive branch. However, under Farmajo, the two have unofficially merged. Of the 275 legislative members, close to 70 are members of the executive body, while over 150 individuals Farmajo administration keeps on its secret payroll. To date, we cannot talk about a system of governance with houses of representatives that can make laws independent of the Executive branch. This is a recipe for an authoritarian rule.
The often-repeated mantra of debt relief is nothing but a pie in the sky. What does a debt relief for a country that does not exist practically mean to its people who exist in a disheveled small state? Does the debt relief for the narrow confines of the less than 5 square kilometers that Villa Somalia claims to rule? To show this as an achievement after three years in office with many donor countries offering a helping hand is an Orwellian testimony of a total failure of Farmajo’s administration.
Despite working in the diplomatic sector before the collapse of the former military regime in 1991, and then serving as a prime minister from 2010 until his ouster on 19 June 2011, after the controversial Kampala Accord, Farmajo is still unable to come to terms with the true meaning of “federalism” that is enshrined in the nation’s Constitution. It seems his rise to stardom happened through sheer luck and not through experience, competency or merit.
Somalia under President Farmajo brought nothing worthy of commemoration except the spearheading of national fragility, foreign interventionism, a kakokcracy of unqualified and inexperienced kowtowers, predatory neighbors, and a community of near relatives who call the foresaken Villa Somalia their permanent home.
President Farmajo has not shown nor does he possess leadership quality. Neither is he a man of vision and an individual with competence to pull off a failed state from the multiple hardships it faces. Neither his acolytes possess what it takes to give him the necessary tools to govern.
To sum up, Farmajo’s presidency is a national disappointment.
His failures, lack of leadership, his inability to exploit a large deposit of national enthusiasm, and his irresponsible destruction of the fledgling federal system which is the only way to reunite Somalia are all inexcusable. In Somali history, he will remember the most disappointing post-civil war leader of Somalia and the most destructive president of 2019, thus WardheerNews’ man of the year for 2019.
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