Somaliland: Crazy Clans Completely Conquer Government


By: Jamal Madar

Somalilandsun – Those of us who are not afflicted with selective amnesia may recall that President Silanyo was vehemently against any semblance of excessively large, corrupt and inefficient government like that of his predecessor, Dahir Rayale Kahin. That was before Silanyo assumed the mantle of leadership in July 2010.

In other words, Silanyo was a strong believer in lean government with high productivity and less interference in clan affairs. Also, he believed a society where all Somaliland people enjoy equal rights.

To hammer this message home, the president had set up, from day one, an all-inclusive 15 member panel of experts, from across the political spectrum, to deliberate over as to how best he could form a leaner and more efficient government in line with his vision. The panel comprised men and women who were well versed with the pitfalls and problems that beset Rayale’s government that eventually brought the curtain down on his eight year rule.

Based on their past experiences about the meaninglessness of so many ministries and agencies intended to satisfy clan interests coupled with the fact that Rayale’s government left a huge hole in state coffers, the experts proposed that the cabinet of Silanyo’s new government shouldn’t be more than 15 ministers at most.

The proposal undoubtedly resonated with the public opinion and even senior officials of the now defunct party, UDUB, surprisingly agreed with the idea. People thought that, after almost a decade, they have found a government willing to listen but, unfortunately, that was not to be.

Strangely as it may sound, president Silanyo immediately brushed aside the commission’s proposal and gradually bloated his government to an extent that no body wanted and was certainly not in the country’s best interest. He raised the number of his cabinet ministers to 20 by capitulating to the demands of insatiably greedy and selfish clans that never stop knocking on the door of the presidential palace, come rain or shine. Then, out of the blue, he created 6 more deputy ministerial posts.

In doing so, Silanyo has made a catastrophic error of judgment by disregarding the panel’s reasonable proposal and, much to the disillusionment of his party’s rank and file, abandoning his original vision to create a smaller, more effective and more efficient government.

Silanyo came to power with the intention to conquer the clans but, instead, the clans completely conquered him and his government.

Now the clans are shouting from the rooftop of the presidential palace and are wildly beating the drums for even more bloated government- a government that simply doles out juicy jobs.

The race is on. And every clan is relentlessly trying to out beat and outwit the other in their fierce competition for access to state resources- be it ministerial posts, slice of foreign aid etc. Everybody will want to rule everybody else, and no body will want to let himself be ruled. No one will give an inch because pride has encountered pride and cannot be reconciled.

In the countryside, a nomad’s wealth and standing in life is measured by the number of camels one owns. In the city, nomads measure their social status by the number of cabinet posts they own in the government. The more ministers you own in the government, the more the honour and prestige attached to it even if these are hopelessly incompetent ministers who will not do a scintilla of anything good for their respective clans that maneuvered them into these post in the first place. Give us more posts are the mottos and the prevailing mindset in every clan circle in Somaliland.

Long ago Somaliland was dubbed Give-me-something-Land (bilaad wax-i-sii) – and that is a name which still suits it today, though that may sound harsh.

Soon the pressure was steadily mounting on Silanyo to enlarge his cabinet of ministers as the nomads relentlessly vie for power and access to more state resources.

On 25th June 2013, the tipping point has been reached. President Silanyo has ultimately thrown in the white towel by capitulating meekly, yet again, to the demands of the crazy clans. He bloated his cabinet of ministers to nearly 60 at the expense of the national interest. By trying to please everybody, Silanyo had pleased nobody in the end.

Silanyo went even one step further by ring-fencing certain ministries for certain clans. He split up existing ministries into miniscule ones and created new ones out of thin air. Every clan now owns its own ministry or agency but the clans are still far from being satisfied. They are insatiably hungry for more posts and are plotting one another, day and night.

It is ironic that president Silanyo who believed all along in small, effective and efficient government is now presiding over an over bloated government that needs an urgent dieting plan.

In the past, KULMIYE officials, and supporters alike, used to ridicule Dahir Rayale time and again over his over bloated government with exponentially high wage bill. But look now, who is spending money like a drunken sailor on shore leave?

The total number of this government’s cabinet ministers has now reached at the absolute zenith of stupidity.

Indifferent to all ideas of development and progress, each clan wants to have more than its fair share of the national cake.

Silanyo failed to live up to his promise to form a small, effective and efficient government and equally failed to strike the right equilibrium amongst clans to prevent unnecessary rivalry and competition for state resources.

So far, there are no set of rules or a clearly defined formula as to who gets what? So long as there is no resource-sharing formula, the picture of the economic and political future of the country will continue to be blurred and confused as every Tom, Dick and Harry dream of a great Somaliland with themselves as its ministers based on their clan ties, not merits.

In the meantime, clan chieftains dyed their beards with red Henna and wearing Sarongs will not stop roaming wildly around the presidential palace, demanding even more posts for their clansmen just as they roam the wilderness on their endless search for grass and water.

Jamal Madar

London, United Kingdom