By Liban Ahmad
Puntland, known to many Somalis as the mother of federalism in Somalia, has given up on federalism. Its withdrawal from federalism project does not come in the form of a protest against policies of the Federal Government of Somalia. It supports statist policies of the Federal Government in the absence robust institutions. Last year Puntland published a three-year development planaligned with the National Development Plan 2017-2019 introduced by the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. The National Development Plan is a call to invest in white elephants. Nothing demonstrates this better than the scheme to build a seaport in Eyl district in Nugaal despite Puntland thriving on Bosaaso seaport.
To counter-balance the Eyl initiative the National Development Plan envisages the construction of a seaport in Hobyo district in Mudug. If both projects get implemented Somalia will have had four ports on the Indian Ocean.
Puntland President, Dr Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, has won accolades for working with the National Leadership Forum. His administration’s failure to address mounting insecurity in Puntland particularly in the commercial city of Bosaaso is being taken advantage of by Al-Shabaab. The situation prompted the former Puntland president, Abdirahman Farole, to criticise the Puntland administration forharbouring warlords who have a vested interest in blocking the trade between South and North Galkayo.
Mr Farole said Puntland had mishandled the dispute over a “tiny road in Galkayo”. Puntland administration in North Galkayo was planning to extend renovation work on a road into South Galkayo without consulting Galmudug administration. The clashes caused by a dispute over the road cost lives and displaced hundreds of people. The second clash between Puntland and Galmudug forces in 2016 was inadvertently resulted in by a US attack on Galmudug forces in Galkayo. The US apologised to Galmudug for mistaking forces of the federal state for terrorists. The ensuing clash between the two adminstrations made Galkayo a war zone before Galmudug and Puntland presidents had signed a ceasefire agreement in the divided city.
Puntland is the first regional administration to grant foreign companies fishing licences. There is neither clarity about revenues from fishing contracts nor details on who had been granted fishing licenses. Successive Puntland administrations have not subsidised fishing communities affected by overfishing by foreign trawlers. There is widespread perception in Puntland that the political class is unaccountable for policies that bring more hardship to Puntlanders. Next year, Puntland will celebrate the twentieth anniversary . There will be little to celebrate if Puntland leaders had not changed course on regressive policies by August 2018.
Corruption is rife in Puntland. In a statement on a study on corruption published by Puntland State University the Chancellor of the University, Mohamud Sheikh Hamud, said corruption affected almost all aspects of public, private and the third sectors. “The government, business communities, NGOs, an NGO and a University I head, foreign NGOs, religious leaders and traditional leaders are involved in corruption in Puntland.”
By aligning its development plan with the National Development Plan, Puntland administration has given corruption a new lease of life. Corruption is the primary cause of insecurity, unemployment and intra-clan hostilities in Puntland. Public consultations on changing political behaviours that empower unaccountable leaders could be the first step to fight corruption in Puntland.
When Horseed Media quoted from Puntland State University report on corruption, the University Chancellor, Mohamud Sheikh Hamud,accused the website of violating “the copyright of the University“. Mr Hamud gave in to pressure from the administration to respond to the Horseed Media report in question. Puntlanders need to remember that defending people working to expose corruption deserve protection and encouragement not bullying or threats. If Puntland leaders have given up on federalism Puntlanders should not surrender their right of holding their leaders accountable for bad political decisions.