Somaliland Needs Urgent Change of Discourse

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A state is a reflection of its citizens and every country is functionally and structurally formulated by the cumulative thinking, innovation and physical effort of vibrant, diverse and informed citizens.

Individuals contribute to varying degrees, according to their mental ability and level of responsibility to the early establishment of their country and later on to the development of its governing system.

They may also willingly or otherwise take part in the demise and destruction of their own country under different pretexts or justifications. To make a system long-lasting and withstand the test of the progressive, dynamic changes of society, and cater for a continually changing needs and demands of aspiring new generations, the individualistic attitude to leadership must be departed from to a representative institutional order.

Consequently, state organisations must take a significant role in the process of rejuvenating the system and must contrive new solutions for the incessantly emerging problems that accompany the sophisticated challenges of modern society.

Nevertheless, state institutions must be controlled by laws and regulations legislated merely on the sole interest of the public. These laws are enforced by competent, independent commissions elected by concerned constituencies to grantee their fairness, neutrality and to prevent our instinctual proclivity towards arrogance and abuse of power.

These steps are meant to curb individual transgressions on the common virtue and to put accountability and transparency at the heart of leadership. It will also ensure the durability of the system and its resistance against internal and external destabilising forces.

Strong and efficient national institutions are the bedrock of good governance, and the establishment of a fair and free society requires openness, common goals and a shared sense of belonging.

Bolstering the trust between the individual and the state is another objective from these procedures; which, perhaps is the most effective measure to make the country immune to outside dictations and impervious to interfering regional influences.

In Somaliland, although we triumphantly succeeded in the initial task of installing a modestly functioning state apparatus, however, we have failed horribly to bring our institutions to maturity. We have not paid the necessary attention to the fundamental principles that must govern these national institutions.

Instead of investing much time and whatever capabilities we have to cultivate the qualities of patriotism, justice, and equality into our institutions, we have built a system entirely revolving around one individual.

The President is everything in this abnormal and unbalanced system. And because an individualised system never encourages accountability, all sorts of wrong, unacceptable behaviours have flourished; corruption, nepotism, abuse of power, confiscation of freedoms and the silencing of the free press.

The ongoing debate about police brutality and misconduct is an appropriate example. Arbitrary detention of citizens by police without the proper legal procedures became frequent recurring incidents. Each time such incident happens, we vociferate unharmoniously with harsh condemnations for the barbaric act, we express our lamentations about this despotic and tyrannical behaviour, we all shriek with a short-lived intense urge for instant radical reform and change.

However, we instantly, find ourselves divided and endlessly arguing about who is to blame, the President or the police commander, or most of the time, the victim itself.

This victim bashing mentality is typical of an individualised system, where the responsibility of an entire organisation is confined to the person in charge.

This is one of the manifestations of a broader, uglier reality. After three decades of statehood, we are at a crisis point where we have no single public institution that is mature enough to be accountable for its actions to the public, transparent in its dealings and efficient in its functioning.

From health and education to the justice department and police; from the national political parties to the traditional tribal establishment, wherever one looks, there is disappointment emanating from an individualised, self-serving quasi-organisations weakened by lack of vision, incompetence, corruption, nepotism and complete absence of meritocracy.

Our ability for political innovations and exploration of better solutions for the future have plateaued. The governing elite, whether in the government or opposition, have long seized to think in a dignified manner and soberly assess the current stagnation.

In conclusion, Somaliland is facing existential challenges from within itself and from outside, and this current situation with all the complexities and shortcomings it entails, needs new thinking, new prioritising of objectives and aims. For Somaliland to survive in the surrounding unfavourable environment, it needs to reconsider the founding principles.

We must build viable, competent institutions and dismantle this horrid individualised system. We have to take the debate back where it is supposed to be; fighting for shared dreams and ambitions through public institutions serving all citizens with dignity and justice, not shared looting and mutual periodic corruption.

By: Abdikarim Hasan

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