I had the opportunity to discuss with the head of the Somaliland mission to the UK regarding to the contribution of the current Kulmiye government led by the incumbent president, Ahmed Mohammed Mohamud Siilanyo has made to our country. It was thought form his Excellency, Mr Ali Adan Awale to provide me with informed knowledge if the government had delivered its election manifestation pledge. To name for views, it has promised economic development to reduce extreme poverty, to promote good governance, to tackle corruption and to cut down on inefficiencies. Some government departments, and International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs)were believed to have been endemic with corruptions and inefficiencies before the current government came into power. Furthermore, securing international recognition for the Somaliland was the cornerstone of the government’s election promises. To this end, I put to his Excellency, Mr Awale as to what extent the government has met its promises to Somaliland public? And why should the government face up its people to have another five more years mandate to run the country?
Over view of government achievements
As I am a senior opposition politician who has been involved in Somaliland politics and has been one of the founders of both the Somaliland opposition political parties, I have made him aware that current government inherited a fully democratic and peaceful country. To this end, should the economic development and strengthening institutions have been what was elected for the current government in 2010?
His Excellency, in responding to my questions, reminded me of the achievements of current government. He stated that the Kulmiye government soon after coming into power, reviewed all government departments, including the police and armed forces to cut out the inefficiencies and corruption, including the international NGOs. He stated the outcome of government robustness had yielded a tangible and measured outcome – and within its first year into office it had increased the budget by 100% and paid off the debt it inherited from previous government. Furthermore, He stated that the government budget was $44 million when they came into power in 2010 and was increased to $152million according to the last budget.
He further elaborated by stating if it had not been the effective anticorruption policy by the government, it would not have been made huge savings. With this, I must have undoubtedly agreed with Mr Awale, that this government has been tough on corruption and its efficiency saving paid off huge dividends to the Somaliland workforce in the public sector; including the police and armed forces. They all saw their salaries increase by 100%. This does not mean it has been perfect and in my last visits I observed that many departments are by far underperforming owing to short of talent and expertise. It should have to be appealed to the altruism of likes of highly educated Somalilanders in the diaspora to go back to their country and the government should accommodate them.
However, the reduction in inefficiency and corruption, albeit the proceeds were distributed fairly and appears that it lifted many Somalilanders out of extreme poverty. Moreover, those who lost out their unearned income due to cutting corruption have waged unrelenting misinformation on government policies. For example, the last local election was said to be that the government had won by rigging it, whilst the international observers stated by far it had met the international standards. Notwithstanding, there had been issues of underage voting and repeated voting in some areas, however, it was stated that some opposition areas had been endemic with irregularities. I asked his Excellency what had been the government’s response to this allegation and why the government had not been able to get its good records across to the public to stem out misinformation. For example, it saved $105 million since it came into power. On the contrary, some rogue politicians were stating over exaggerated claims of widespread corruption within government, unsubstantiated. Ironically, those claims outwitted the government in spreading their myth, for example they accused the government to have poorly managed the $10 million Kuwait fund to rebuild Hargeisa and Berbera Airports. I asked if there had been poor public relations within the government.
In responding to this, he stated that the Somaliland president is not a new politician and has a good track record known to be honest throughout his political career. As you stated, his efficiency saving and drive against corruption had saved more than $100 million, those who accused of government had mismanaged the $10 million from Kuwait was a malicious claim. Therefore, our people will judge our track record to be inextricably interwoven with good governance and increased prosperity. Furthermore, development projects have been carried up and down the country; and countless roads that have been completed and many more that are being built. I (Ahmed Isse) was of the views to have agreed to Mr Awale because when I visited Somaliland in November 2013 for the first time in five years, I was astounded by the development that had been made since the current government was elected.
Government on efficiency and anti-corruption policies aimed at International NGOs
The other area that I was very interested in was about the work of international NGOs because I had been a shadow secretary of Development and Coordination for my party for over 5 years. At that time, I was shocked that I had evidently noted the inefficiencies and corruption that had been endemic within international NGOs. It was documented that every $1 spent by the international NGOs prior 2010 it 80%- 90% had been going towards cost. What had made the situation worst was as the last governments were busy building democratisation and focused on peace and stability of our country as their priorities, the international NGOs had been left unregulated and unchecked of their activities. With this regard, the INGOs exploited to fit in their objective around the development discourse propagated by the World Bank and IMF, which favoured capacity building and empowerment as development policy prescribed to them. This was an outcast and not fit in Somaliland’s needs. It meant not to give in money to developing countries directly as it was believed to benefited only by the corrupt regimes and their families as was demonstrated in corrupt regimes of ZAIRE and Nigeria who had outsourced billions worth of aid money into Swiss personal accounts in the mid-1980s.
In exploiting the situation of Somaliland and Somalia, International NGOs flooded into the country with an approximation of over one hundred to being operating in Somaliland. The INGOS were all carrying out a duplicate work – and the vast majority of funding provided to Somaliland via international NGos had been spent in the most wasteful way. This means, funding that should have been gone into development projects, including health and education as key priorities had been spent on holding endless conferences in hotels in capital of Somaliland. Millions of dollars’ worth of funding spent in such a wasteful way by the name of capacity and empowerment building conferences and workshops that had not made a measured development. I asked his Excellency what had been the steps taken to cut the inefficiencies and corruptions within international NGOs?
He replied to this, the Somaliland government policy on corruption was paying dividends to, not only government departments who were targeted as you mentioned but as well, International NGOs, which were accused of, to be endemic with inefficiency and corruption
The government has introduced a licensing agreement with INGOS, which required their work to reflect on the Somaliland National Development priority needs that have not existed under any previous governments. With this, all INGOS were required to register the country and consult with the Ministry of planning and coordination before constructing a one size fit project for our country. Today, we have seen see the huge difference the international community funding has impacted on our country. Good example is the Somaliland development fund in which the government directs the international development funding to prioritise areas.
Finally, he said his government’s track record appeals to the Somaliland people to give an opportunity for another term in office to induce five more prosperous years to accomplish its mission to economic development and getting this country internationally recognised.
Ahmed Abdi Isse
An Academic in Social Science