Somalilandsun – Within the last four years we have made unprecedented great strides in developing our country – thanks to the noble efforts made by our public and private sectors.
However, we have long way to go to close ranks with the developed countries and to begin closing that gap we must commence our journey with the following few baby-steps:
Politicians, political parties and the national media
All Somaliland politicians regardless of their party affiliations have for too long been busy purposelessly trying very hard to score political points against each other and they almost ceased concentrating all their energy and efforts on the major challenges that we face as a nation. Our great expectations in all political parties are now beginning to tune down and I don’t know, if the political leaders are happily enjoying their nonstop political wrangling, but Somaliland citizens do not like it a bit.
Holding clan-based conferences and encouraging the youth and women to dissolve our national cohesion will not find us a way out of dealing successfully with our socioeconomic problems – the major causes of our time-wasting political differences. Somaliland does not need bootless political rallies and politicians, who showcase the latest number of bogus clan-representative that came to their party’s folds. Such pretentious display of fake politics are no brainier, shameful and expensive and took away young lives.
Politician and political party must instead coin new innovatory visions for Somaliland’s future to entice new voters and not alienate previous supporters. As it stands now, people feel that political parties are bankrupt of newfangled ideas and hold useless public rallies to remind voters that they are still in actuality.
Somalilanders must learn to express their political opinions not based on clan, but based on individual believes and principles – to proof their existence, only hypocrites and political losers resort to clan bias, such objectionable people must be politically and socially rejected and not be honoured with media attention. At this point in time, Somalilanders must turn their backs towards politicians, who publicly tolerate, support or attend clannish rallies and/or conferences.
Somaliland media must respect the religious and cultural norms of our people. Publication of propaganda materials violating our stability, national security or our national unity must become punishable by the law of the land. The media must remain impartial and accurate in its reporting. The dignity and the rights of public and private individuals must be respected and not defiled. Filing complaints with international parties against our own state is counter productive and gainsay to our national interest and national sovereignty. To the contrary, Somaliland media must play a progressive and a proactive role in advancing the aspirations of our nation.
The Somaliland government must not take its eyeball away from the hurdles that we face. It must realise that it has a bigger fish to fry rather than responding to minor vocal-individuals, who take pleasure in attracting media attention. Meanwhile, the government must show political and media tolerance up to the limits permitted by our constitution, but must not offer compromises to the media or to anyone else on issues contravening our national unity, interests and national security. The lines in between individual/party interests and national interests must not remain blurred.
Governance, transparency and education
The Somaliland government needs to become systematically more transparent and accountable to the public. Government contracts must be advertised for competition and full results announced for public and media scrutiny.
All internationally funded projects to either the government agencies or the NGOs must become accountable to the offices of the auditor general. The auditor general must in-turn publish his reports online.
The ministry of planning must also issue reports on how internationally funded projects are executed and it must give a clear picture of the project impacts on our national development. This information must too be realised online for public and private scrutiny.
To further enhance the accountability and transparency of our government, the Ministry of finance must quarterly produce reports on revenue generated through taxation with names of tax-paying individuals and companies. The ministry of finance must increase taxation on the Qat and tobacco products. The government must set limits and price control on these two items to prevent both importers and distributors passing the tax increases to the individual consumers.
The majority of our schools are only concentrated in the regions of Western Sahil, Maroodjeex, Gabiley and Awdal. Meanwhile, there are no schools or the existing schools are overcrowded in highly populated cities, towns and villages in Eastern Sahil region, Togdheer, Sanaag and Sool regions, such discrepancies are unfair and unacceptable. The Ministry for education must create equal educational opportunities for all Somaliland children.
To create a competitive work force, we must establish accreditation commissions for public and private schools and universities. Our country needs more selective vocational schools to bring down our youth unemployment, reduce the number of foreign expatriates working in our country and to attract foreign investment.
We must prioritise national food security and we must work hard to reach food sufficiency within the coming five years. In order to achieve this we must rehabilitate our coastal villages. Villagers must receive training in modern fishing technics and offered fishing boats. Wind/solar-powered cold storage facilities and light caning fish factories are needed to increase our productivity, exports and local consumption of our marine resources.
Besides encouraging, improving and increasing all our agricultural products, we must at least plant 4 to 10 million date palms. As we all know dates are highly nutritious and well suited to easily grow in our country.
The Ministry for foreign affairs still lacks behind our expectations and its chronic anomalies need to be immediately corrected. The government must not show any signal that could be misinterpreted faultily as giving concessions on our sovereignty. We must assertively refuse to compromise on our legitimate, historic and moral right to regain international recognition. We must not allow the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Somalia to interfere in our affairs. Back-tracking on our previous decisions on the UN representative in Somalia will only diminish our stature as an independent and sovereign nation.
The importance of fast internet connection to our economy, educational system and healthcare can not be underestimated or downgraded. It has now been four long years since the contract for the internet fibre optic cable was given to a privately-owned
company, but still there is nothing tangible realised in that front. The government must immediately do its best to speed-up the completion of that project.
We are at the crossroads of either attracting economic prosperity that comes with international investments or facing poverty and deprivations for many generations to come. for that reason, we must seriously think of choosing between bed of roses and aridity – let us go for economic prosperity and welcome investors from all over the world and to all regions in our beautiful country.
The ministries for commerce and investment, the ministry of energy and minerals along with the ministries of fishing and the ministry of agriculture and ministry of livestock must get well prepared and ready way ahead of the upcoming October Somaliland investment conference in London. The Somaliland government and with the help of the UK government must as soon as possible hire and seek the consultation of media experts. I would suggest the conference advertisements (commercials) to go on-air as soon as possible on selective international TVs such as Al Jazeera and CNN as well as on major print media. We hope the advertisement to have two positive impacts – making the case for our international recognition and attracting international investment. Somalilanders are proud and thankful to have historic international friends like Britain.
Our justice system
We have made continuous improvements to our justice system but still Somalilanders are not fully content with the pace of those improvement. Then again, we must stop politicising our judicial system. Trying cases in the courts of public opinion will further compromise our justice system, demoralise our judges and persecution services and finally destroy the confidence we have on our courts of justice. Our national media, the politicians and members of our public must abstain from publicly criticising our court verdicts and we must have full confidence in our appeal processes. We will not have a fully functional and fair justice system until we stop attributing crimes committed by individuals to all the members of his/her family or clan. This by itself is an immoral travesty of justice and must come to an end.
Finally, we must be very proud of what we have thus far achieved in the sprit of co-operation and patriotism and that is not all, because the sky is our limit.
Yusuf Dirir Ali