On August 2019 Jubbaland will be conducting the presidential elections for the second time since it has been established in 2012.
President Ahmed Madobe who was the first president of Jubbaland will be competing against several other candidates including some well-known politicians. Analysts expect a tight presidential race and cutthroat campaign competitions. Jubbaland residents are concerned and worried about the process and the product of the coming election.
With the election less than three months away, the list of candidates — with a range of backgrounds — is growing longer all the time, and the final field could be quite large. Here are the notable names so far; Abdirashid Xidig, a federal member of parliament, Shiekh Dahir, a former army official in Jubbaland army, Abdinasir Seerar, the former spokespersons of Jubbaland state, Abdiwahab “kun kun”, a businessman, and others who have not yet made it clear that they are vying to win the presidential seat.
The election race became the center of many discussions in Jubbaland state and Somalia in general. I have had the same discussion with a group of intellectuals and this is my take; after analyzing the reason behind the candidature of many candidates and their vision of the future, I came to know that the only qualification that most of them have as an alternative to the current president is that they are critical to the status quo. On the other hand, our citizens do not care what they stand for, the values they represent, the policy alternatives they are offering and their leadership capabilities.
For a fact, the current administration has exhibited dictatorial tendencies, exercised power against its opponents and offered zero social transformation agendas. So there is a need for change. But such change needs abroad participation of Somalis in Jubbaland who believe in an inclusive, a merit-based government that gives citizens a bigger role and voice in all matters that affects their lives.
Yet this is not the concern of the citizens, in particular, the intellectuals. Most of the intellectuals whom I met clearly expressed that they want the incumbent to go and hope the rest will work itself without giving a glimpse of critical thinking to the nature and the substance of the opposition manifestos that we have seen so far.
I would like to remind my fellow citizens that we faced the same scenario in 1991 when we overthrow Siyaad Barre. Unfortunately, it seems we learned nothing from that painful experience. Siyaad Barre had killed and jailed his opponents. So we thought to change him without thinking the alternative and that inherited us a 3-decade civil war. We are on the same road again if we do not step back and think wisely before we act.
Somali citizens and their elites argue that our country has been cursed by bad leaders. Yet most of them, in particular, those who are in power position (elders) to elect or select political leaders are extremely irresponsible when exercising that power of selecting leaders. They are easily being tricked by the empty promises of morally naked political leaders; never recognizing that such bad leaders are produced by this irresponsible attitude of not properly checking the background of the leader.
In today’s world, every political party/leader promotes certain policies that reflect the needs and demands of society. So, my question is what are the policies that Jubbaland presidential candidates are promoting or want to implement when they get elected? I dare you to tell me. No one knows their values and what they stand for. Instead, they are largely less educated or inexperienced. At best the candidates who are making the most noise can only produce Ahmed Madobe’s patronage politics without his oratory and decisiveness.
On the other hand, I share the frustration of many Jubbalanders have toward the incumbent’s administration. I also find it extremely incompetent and arrogant. This is not to say I see no value in it. On several indicators, it has performed well in particular in the areas of security and political stability.
Some of Jubbaland elites find difficult to embrace any and every opposition politician simply because they oppose the current administration. I don’t see a single social transformative indicator where the candidates are comparable to the incumbent.
Somalia has experienced very many changes in government leaders without much change in the quality and quantity of government service provision. Instead, most of them turned out to be worse than the ones they removed. Thus, change itself is not the missing element in a good governed Jubbaland. What is missing is a qualitative change in all aspects of governance.
Therefore, I urge my fellow Jubbalanders not to seek change for the sake of change, but to seek qualitative change that will not take us back.
Mohamed Barre is a political analyst.