“I like walking and being a government minister doesn’t mean changing habits” Hon Ali Elmi Gelle
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – Welcome to Somaliland where ministers mingle freely with the common man.
The minister of Posts and telecommunications Hon Ali Elmi Gelle defies all ministerial protocols when he walks to and from work on a daily basis, thus mingling freely with citizens from all walks of life.
The minister who was caught recently by Somalilandsun shopping at a wheelbarrow carted stand said, “Though I have 3 vehicles assigned to me by the government I prefer to walk as part of keeping fit”
Minister Gelle is usually to be seen strolling alone through the streets of Hargeisa, devoid of gun totting personal guards and the retinue of servants usually associated with his colleagues at the council of ministers.
Hon Gelle divulged that this is not the first time for him to utilize the habit of walking as a minister having done the same during his 6 years stint as deputy information minister in the Rayale government. He informed that love for walking emanates from his lengthily stint as a secondary school teacher and later as teacher trainer with the Centre for British Teachers-Cfbt that involved too much movement and without a vehicle.
Asked if he is never threatened, the minister was quick to retort that he has never been threatened by anybody, Said he, “My biggest problem is not security but never ending requests for “SHAHAT” from many who are known to him and others not known to him. (Shahat is a local word used for handouts)
The posts and communication minister said that most of the time he is forced to inform those after SHAHAT about the amount of his ministerial salary which is only sufficient for his family needs thus his inability to pay anything.
Said he, “I sometimes give out something little to friends and others when I have some excess shillings to spare”
Hon Gelle also revealed that while moving on foot puts him in touch with the common man it is also beneficial as he sometimes finds quality products at very cheap prices, products he says would cost ten times what he pays at the street vendors if he purchased them at the posh supermarkets in town.
The minister who assumed duties at the posts and telecommunication ministry a few months back refused to answer any questions related to his ministry insisting that a Hargeisa barber shop (Jaylani barbershop) was not the right place to discuss official matters.
Hon Ali Elmi Gelle’s movement is an example worthy of emulation by many officials who are known to speed around Hargeisa city streets in a convoy of government vehicles.