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Muse Bihi set to be inaugurated as Somaliland new president. .."Prospects and Challenges"

Tuesday December 5, 2017 
Abdirahman I. Waberi


In two weeks, Somaliland’s president elect Muse Biehi Abdi will quickly put the long and rough campaign behind him and turn to taking over the most powerful office in the country which is at the moment, fiscally distressed indeed.

Whatever else awaits inside the Somaliland presidency on the 14th of December there isn't much to read on the topic of "How to successfully lead Somaliland out of economic deprivation." Nor is there any crystal vase on the long table at the presidential conference room that says “here is the answer” NOP, there is none. 

Major candidates for Somaliland President talked about their (easily said) plans for dealing with the major problems facing Somaliland, and certainly have had different ideas for dealing with issues ranging from unemployment, poverty, security and to the growing inflation.. And despite what you might imagine after reading those ordinarily inexplicit and indistinguishable party programs from all political parties---- there is no binder full of special instructions or step-by-step blueprint awaiting the Somaliland President-elect in the office.

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Now, what does the new Somaliland president do first? I’ll impart my thoughts in this, but first, it is clear in the eyes of struggling families that Somalilanders expect a lot from their new President. Understandably, they want the President to take quick action on problems facing the nation, such as poverty, unemployment and relentless draughts.  

However, with a revenue barely covering government budget, they do expect miracles. And yes, miracle can be achieved with a phenomenal game-plan. And this president with all good intentions may be able to accomplish considerable improvement in all sectors. Having said that, the new Somaliland president should ask himself the following seven questions;

1-      First and foremost, am I a leader who understands and realizes that the country is being torn apart over the recent years and during latest elections by clan divisiveness? The incredible polarization that exists today needs to be acknowledged, and then dealt with effectively in Somaliland’s traditional way “NOW”.

2-      Am I a leader who knows he doesn't have to be perfect, but desires perfection as a goal? A leader who puts country over party or clan no matter the consequences, and who is genuine in his approach to all important developmental mechanisms for a better tomorrow..

3-      Am I a leader who doesn't just follow what someone else did, but rather someone who wants to set a higher standard of behavior for himself, his team and his government as a whole? This could involve competence, accountability and transparency.

4-      Am I a leader who can hold strong and calm in a storm of crisis? A leader who is intellectually curious, who looks for new solutions to problems and is not trapped in the mantra of the old ways, but has a big enough heart to embrace “a can do attitude” with vision while surrounding himself with highly capable team. A leader setting a much higher goal for us as a government and a country than just the norm or status quo.

5-      Am I a leader who just didn't talk about fighting corruption in all its forms, and injustice, but actually would put sets of policies together that did just that. A leader who draws a firm line between government offices and corrupt especial interest groups.

6-      Am I a leader who is authentic? What does this mean? It means a leader whose thoughts and actions are in alignment with a set of genuine values. People disagree about what character traits are most important in a President. But there are some commonly accepted things that people look for, such as integrity, strength, fairness and caring.

7-      And finally, am I a leader who can delegate and practice accountability in management and leadership. In a complex institution building all decisions cannot be forced through a hierarchical model. It is important that creativity and responsiveness is encouraged through delegation. But delegation without accountability is chaos. And this accountability needs to not only be conducted outward from the leader's office, but to come back inward from people outside the decision makers circle. Accountability is a two-way street.

If all the answers are YES, then you won’t need a policy of hit and miss solutions and you therefore are a leader who understands that, this poor nation shall not benefit from the old-fashioned trial-and-error methods, such as the Uncompassionate Developmental Approach of “The ends justifying the means”.

It is the means that tell us the kind of leader you are, not the ends you may be promising. Show us how you govern and with whom, how you design your step-by-step plan for the journey into prosperity with feasible steps.  This should tell us a lot and would represent confidence and trust in your leadership. If you fix the means of governing and of politics and institution building, then the ends will work themselves out and be good. Concentrate on making sure the means are filled with reform, knowledge and expertise with integrity and the ends will be just fine.   

So, what does the new Somaliland president do first? Assuming he is preoccupied on the notion "How he should be leading Somaliland into prosperity." Just a thought…..

 First, the newly selected team will reflect the new strategy in the horizon. The world is full of proven experts with the tools of the trade in designing developmental strategy for a nation the size of Somaliland. Just like how Dr. Albert Winsemius helped Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, American Economists like Richard W. Rahn has advised many developing countries into a better economic and social status.

He wrote this piece about Somaliland in the Washington Times long time ago. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2005/jan/5/20050105-083004-6885r/      So is the well-known Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto. His award winning work include the following “Dead Capital”   http://www.thepowerofthepoor.com/concepts/c6.php      And “Of Property and Poverty” by De Soto   http://www.economist.com/node/7830252  ………. many developmental economists like MIT’s Abihijit Banerje or the Danish professor Finn Tarp are examples of who to turn to for strategic advice. It is important to consider the fact those who would help design a sound development plan based on where Somaliland currently is, in terms of human development and economic means and what resources are available to fit in on that design into prosperity are FREE. Yes, their advise is available at anytime and it is free to Somaliland. Paid by their countries of-coarse.

Mr. Rahn once spent some-time reading about Somaliland and later told me a long story, but to make it short, he said “A nation the size of Somaliland should be spending most of its first $500m revenue in building a sound justice and investment protection institution. And only then, may a serious developmental strategy have a chance to thrive and therefore a realistic hope could be in the prospect within a reasonable time.. 

A leader who understands all the challenges facing Somaliland and accepts the only proven and realistically attainable success plan is a serious government reform is where everything starts. In order to achieve a set of policies put in place, such as constitutional reform, a capable entity in charge of good governance.

That Start with Policies and systems development such as financial reform, tax reform, justice reform, property law and much much more policies and systems. But anyone can talk about how all those good things are important to be done, but the real question is how?....... And that is where experts come and put the step-by-step game-plan in place and answer all your skeptic and probably apathetic questions. In this capacity is where most of the developing countries leaders and their supposedly educated elites get reluctant and even embarrassed to learn and get genuinely curious instead of haphazard and bewildered path which its likely outcome often turns out to be waste of time and resources. This step is where miracles happen if a leader is merely serious.

A leader who sees what is in place in Somaliland at the moment as a skeleton government institutions can accomplish a lot more then what ignorance has been incubating over the last two decades.

That kind of realization has been the secret to their success for many smaller countries who had struggled like Somailand. Build with a good innovative vision that moves us all to a better Somaliland. You can't find the promised land if you are looking backwards at some long-gone era and rereading the lines of a clan and sub-clan accommodation strategy. 

To the young generation reading this……………., the above list of assessments should be your list of things you all ought to be looking for, in the leaders ahead, and we should be watching the new Somaliland president and hope he is aligned best with that list. If so, brace Allah for giving Somaliland this golden chance.

Abdirahman I. Waberi
Email: [email protected]
Hargeisa, Somaliland


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