Somali Leadership - By Nimco Yusuf


The rift between the Somali President and Prime Minister has opened the debate on the Somali leadership. We find ourselves asking what makes a truly great leader, and how can such a difficult situation come to be resolved?

Somalia has long been burdened with poor leadership including; military autocrats, clan and Islamic militia. These leaders used power as an end in itself, rather than for the public good. They were impassive to the advancement of the country and its citizens. Under their stewardship, the country fell into bloodshed, economic despair and underdevelopment.  The quality of leadership has a major impact on economic and political development of a nation.  
The current Somali political system is based on 4.5 clan’s power-sharing formula. The political power is shared between four main clans, these clans are seen as worth half of a main clan. This means that the current government is selected based on a clan representation. The last time that Somalia held census was in 1975. The current government does not have the means to hold census nor does it have the means to hold an election that is based on a one man one vote.

In my view, the main reason for this continuing incompetence in Somali leadership is our inhibiting clan politics and ideology. It is our incapacity to select a great leader based on his or her ability to create and maintain political stability and unity.

It seems as though history repeats itself. It becomes evident that current Somali leaders do not understand the failures of past leadership, or are simply not learning from previous experiences. The best indicator of a great leader is his propensity to find meaning in the challenges he faces and his capacity to learn from it.  He must understand opportunities and nurture innovation. This requires patience, sincerity and the confidence to inspire others, as well as appreciating the potential in the very people he is leading.

However, when looking into the leadership of H.E Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud there are traits that seem to contradict this ideal of a ‘great leader’. Consequently preventing the flourishing of meaningful and effective Governance within Somalia.

A lack of understanding in key aspects of governmental administration proves evident in the new leadership. However, this may not be a direct fault of the President himself, but rather of the cabinet as a whole. A deeper understanding of economic growth, taxation, foreign investment and risk analysis etc is greatly needed. Once a greater understanding is achieved, relevant agendas and realistic targets would soon follow. After all a well-informed leadership would be more prepared to take the necessary steps needed to further the development of a country.

Among these counter effective traits of leadership is ego. H.E. Mr. Hassan Sheikh is extremely egotistical. Whilst egos have long characterized politics globally, many may consider the egos at play in Somali politics as being extremely counterintuitive to its development. In Sheikh’s case his unwillingness to compromise and his track record for sacking two Prime Ministers in 12 months’ time does prove the point.  It is an important ability for a leader to be able to put his ego aside, sit and take criticism within reason, and accept it as an objective and constructive sight and not a personal attack.

This brings us to accountability. We should be able to criticise our leaders and hold them accountable for both their actions and promises. We should be able to expect our leaders to build roads, provide education and security. But most of all, we should be able to hold them accountable for their actions and promises, particularly when simple demands fall far below par. We need to ask ourselves; why do we accept mediocrity from those we choose to serve us as a nation?

The abuse of public office for personal gain is notorious in Somali politics. The position of a President is not about fame or for the accumulation of personal wealth. However, It seems that H.E. Mr. Hassan Sheikh Mahamoud uses this role as President to benefit himself, his friends and fellow clan members. Indeed, corruption is not only about stealing government funding but it is also about putting the wrong people in high government positions. Just as you wouldn’t hire a Lawyer as a Doctor and a Doctor a Lawyer; the government should not appoint those to office without the relevant expertise and experience, but favorable clan alliance. This form of corruption is creating weak governmental institutions. In the current government, you may find a ministry department full of connected people. None with the right qualification or skills to do the job. Not only is this practice inhibiting Somalia’s development, but its further deepening divisions between clans and breeding mistrust within the state rather than much needed cohesion. Therefore, if this current government truly aims to bring Somalia to its true potential, the curbing of nepotism within government is essential. His Excellency should realise that he represents the entire nation’s interests, regardless of clan membership. From the very influential in Somali society, to those struggling in refugee camps. He is their hope for a bright future, a better Somalia.

Just pause for a moment of silence to re-evaluate, reassess and think about the common good.

Without great leadership the Somali government becomes autocratic, unethical, out-of-date, out of touch and ineffective. We need visionary, fresh thinkers and courageous new change makers.  People who are unafraid to stand in the line of fire for justice, and noble purposes. We need a leader with a vision and someone who can show all of us the way to a bright future. Our next leader, where are you?  Wherever and whoever you are, Somalia and its people desperately need you.  It is time for the next generation of Somali leaders to step up, solve problems and make a difference.

By Nimco Yusuf


Edited By Copywriter: Elixir Ahmed

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