Many of us, Somalilanders, in the diaspora, would like to wholeheartedly congratulate President Muse Bihi Abdi for the great success of being elected the president of Somaliland on November 13, 2017.
He deserves this pinnacle of achievement because he and others had put their lives on the line to fight for their country against the late President Mohamed Siad Barre’s armored divisions and mechanized corps which leveled Hargeisa and Burao, terrorized its inhabitants and forced them to flee their homeland in hundreds of thousands into refugee camps in neighboring Ethiopia.
We suggest that the citizens of Somaliland give the new president some respite and a few months of honeymoon to put his governing team in place and to do his homework in order to take advantage of what his predecessor had done right, and to avoid his mistakes.
Surely, the handling and management of the energy and minerals sector stands out as one of the greatest plunders of the previous administration. The former Minister of Energy and Minerals, with the conniving and blessing of a few powerful personalities, signed lopsided agreements with unscrupulous and predatory multinational corporations like Genel Energy and foreign governments without any consultation with the elected representatives of the people, the national media, much less from common citizens.
Political allocation of resources is usually corrupt. However, the poorest among the citizens have the same rights as the wealthiest and should have equal access to these resources.
It is a common knowledge that a greedy clique in the former administration and some supporters enriched themselves from shady and unfair deals with foreign entities and governments, but the citizens of Somaliland have nothing to show for the fire sale of some of their sacred land and natural resources in secret meetings held at fancy hotels in London, Istanbul, Dubai and Washington, D.C.
At this time, it is premature to start seismic oil exploration in Guben as the new Minister of Energy and Minerals announced last month with a Chinese company. Obviously, the new minister hasn’t had enough time to review the paperwork of the energy and minerals sector.
Therefore, it behooves the new president to closely scrutinize all agreements with foreign companies and governments by the previous administration, and, in the meantime, to suspend all operations like seismic oil explorations anywhere in the country until he assures himself that either these agreements are legitimate and for the best interests of the country, or if they are not, to cancel or renegotiate them.
Also, those involved in these transactions must be held accountable, and not be allowed to skip town with their loot in suitcases of cash, and if they already hid it in foreign accounts in Dubai, London, New York or offshore islands like the Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, they must be forced to repatriate the money back to Somaliland, or else they should be hauled in court, and, if convicted for fraudulently enriching themselves, then they should spend time in a penitentiary.
The best legacy for the new president will be to forcefully and successfully eradicate the widespread corruption in many parts of the society and to instill a culture of responsibilities, fair dealings, honesty and work ethics. The president already eloquently stated in his speeches before and after the election that there would be no free lunches.
Moreover, he should launch a vigorous campaign against mineral resources scavengers who are a plague to the country. This is apparently so lucrative that it has attracted droves of freelancers, hustlers, brokers, and ordinary citizens all over the country and beyond.
We trust that the new president will do right by the people of Somaliland, and that justice will prevail across the land so that the guilty will be punished in order for the innocent to live in peace.
Osman Sultan Ali
Horn of Africa Journal, Founder