By Liban Ahmad
A few weeks ago Puntland Development Research Center issued a video based on a survey conducted by its researchers in several districts under Puntland jurisdiction. PDRC researchers visited Baargaal, Badhan, Galka’yo, Boo ‘ame, Garowe and Qardho. The survey was conducted during September 2014, eight months after Dr Abdiweli Mohamed Ali defeated Abdirahman Farole in a tightly contested parliamentary election. When I watched the video ( with English subtitles) on YouTube two weeks ago, I thought President Abdiweli deserved to be commended for sharing public information that his predecessors might have censored. PDRC interviews with people have spotlighted four issues that Dr Abdiweli’s administration ought to address.
Three interviewees ( an old man and two ladies) talked about the prevalence of rape against girls below the age of 10. A woman in Bo’ame, a hamlet north of Garowe, said her niece was raped by a young man. The man’s father had offered to pay 40 zakat ( compulsory alms ) to the raped child’s family. The other woman said some fathers of rapists ask for the raped girl to be married off to the rapist. In Islam Zakat is based on the wealth of the person. Zakat obligation on a man with 53 heads of camels is less than that of a man with 200 heads of camel. Condoning rape is a problem interviewees mentioned as well as the misuse of one of five pillars of Islam to victimise Somali girls.
A young man in Badhan said he was happy to see people handing over arms to authorities because “weapons in the hands of civilians cause instability”. A lady in Galka’ayo has objected to the idea of handing over weapons. “Who will protect me if I give up my weapons?” she asked the PDRC interviewer. Northern Galka’yo ( under Puntland) sees the highest rate of assassinations against reporters, traditional leaders, teachers and Puntland government officials.
Lack of staff training
Puntland government officials in different sectors pointed out that lack of training affected the work of security forces, courts and civil servants. “ It is said Puntland has good people but bad leaders” one district commissioner told PDRC. A police officer in Goldogob district said he was worried about the people who know governance are now aging.
A police commander in Bargaal district complained about non-payment of salaries of policemen. “Some of the policemen have told me they would leave the force and look for jobs”, the commander said. How can Puntland address growing security challenges if it cannot pay its security forces?
The PDRC video has now been removed from YouTube possibly by people who would like Dr Abdiweli Ali’s administration to face criticisms for being insensitive to the plight of its people. The silence of Puntland administration on issues discovered by PDRC survey will only fuel speculations that Puntland administration has pressured researchers to remove the video from YouTube. President Abdiweli knows that his reputation depends on protecting people under his jurisdiction by being open about the shortcomings of his administration. President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali should not allow the removal of the PDRC video removed from YouTube to taint his administration. PDRC was created to play “a key role in research and funding for the development of local peace and effective governance initiatives.”