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Published On: Sat, Aug 27th, 2016

Somaliland:Mayor Abdirahman Soltelco: Hargeisa’s Hardworking Mayor

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By: Robleh Mohamud Lafcanbe

Recently, the popular Q&A programme “Qanci Dadkaaga” that airs on Horn Cable TV, featured the Mayor of Hargeisa, Abdirahman M. Aideed “Soltelco”.

As usual, the programme began with a conference hall packed with enthusiastic citizens, eager to question the latest guest on “Qanci Dadkaaga”. Puzzlingly, by the end of the programme, the ordinary viewer watching at home found themselves wondering if this was a staged Q&A programme, attempting to undermine the Mayor.

The programme – from beginning to end – appeared to be more of a kangaroo court than a typical question & answer session. The “questions” from audience members consisted of numerous calls for Mayor Soltelco to resign and harsh accusations of negligence and mismanagement of public funds.

One might argue that these should be taken as valid claims. However, Mayor Soltelco’s solid track record strongly proves otherwise. Moreover, the Mayor’s overall public opinion significantly trumps what was portrayed throughout the programme.

The administration of this latest programme and HCTV’s video editing should also raise many eyebrows. To many, it seems quite clear that Horn Cable TV and the program host were intent on airing staged accusations and silencing any praise for the Mayor. This became evident early on in the program, when the host attempted to silence a young woman who was attempting to ask the Mayor a positive question.

In addition to that, the initial advertisement of “Qanci Dadkaaga & Mayor Soltelco” that was circulated on social media earlier this week, concluded with a clip of a visibly angry Mayor Soltelco – which led many people to believe that the Mayor was furious with the audience and couldn’t handle the questions being asked.

When the programme was officially released, the ordinary viewer was able to a witness a composed and articulate Mayor, responding to wild accusations.

Some of the many bizarre instances that occurred during the programme included several demands for the Mayor to declare his assets on the spot and to solemnly swear that he has not acquired wealth via public office.

According to Article 82 (9) and Article 85 (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland, the President and the Vice-President are the only public officials that are legally compelled to declare their assets – on specific occasions. That is, of course, legally compelled to providing financial documents to the Auditor General and not to the average citizen demanding numbers in Green Plaza!

The programme host should have told those individuals to direct their energy on campaigning for constitutional referendum rather than badgering the Mayor with unwarranted demands.

In today’s society, media plays a key role in forming public opinion. Sadly, in Somaliland, TV networks use this power by promoting irresponsible and unfounded accusations to form negative public opinion of certain politicians.

During the program, Mayor Soltelco also interestingly mentioned that many of the smear campaigns that target him, derive from those furious of him placing the public interest over private interests.

By taking a closer look at Mayor Soltelco’s achievements over the past four years, many can conclude that he has in fact prioritized the public interest above all other interests. The Mayor’s achievements also provide greater explanation as to why he has been subject to co-ordinated smear campaigns.

Some of Mayor Soltelco’s achievements include, but are not limited to:

1) Increasing the number of vehicles and equipment for the Local Government

2) The revamping and construction of numerous bridges and roads

3) Installation of solar street lights and traffic lights throughout the city

4) Successfully implementing decentralization (Local Government and Hargeisa’s districts)

5) Cracking down on bureaucratic corruption within district offices and Local Government Headquarters

6) Strengthening co-operation between Hargeisa’s local government and the central government and tirelessly advocating for the city.

7) Initiating municipal tax reform

Despite these achievements, there are still many pressing issues that need to be addressed. These issues not only require co-operation from the local and central government – but also from the residents of Hargeisa.

Issues such as the growing amount of garbage on the streets of Hargeisa, requires the public to play a much greater role. Many initiatives to beautify the city have been launched by the local government in the past, but have never reached its full potential due to constant littering by the public.

In order to successfully tackle these issues, co-operation between the residents of Hargeisa and the local government should be enhanced. The local government headed by Mayor Soltelco, should consider establishing a Citizen Advisory Board. The board will consist of ordinary residents appointed by city council to undertake studies and provide policy recommendations. This will bridge the gap between the local government and residents and strengthen their relationship for the better.

All in all, credit must be given where credit is due. Since Abdirahman Soltelco became Mayor, Hargeisa has become a vibrant and modern city. In order for Hargeisa to become a world-class city, its residents must stand united against those pursuing personal agendas – and support those who strive for a better Hargeisa like Mayor Abdirahman Soltelco.

The author of this article can be reached at robleh.m@gmail.com or on Twitter – @RM_Laf

Displaying 8 Comments
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  1. Yaaa says:

    OK robleh how much did the mayor pay you. Or did he pay you daan guud? He is crook of the highest calibre and every1 knows.

  2. Yaaa says:

    OK robleh how much did the mayor pay you. Or did he pay you in daan guud? He is crook of the highest calibre and every1 knows.

  3. Yassin says:

    Roble, the media is supposed to inform and educate the public. By inviting a public servant (which the mayor is by virtue of his position) for a Q&A session, HCTV merely fulfilled its public interest role. Leaders all over the world hold press conferences everyday. In fact, these public discourses encourage engagement and debates. For instance, Obama wouldn’t be the US President had he not addressed the democractic convention as a keynote speaker way back in 2004.

    I see nothing wrong with what HCTV did. Instead of whining and complaining, the mayor should work on his PR skills. If I were him, I’d’ve used this chance to thank them for inviting me over. Then proceeded to explain (with concrete evidence) my accomplishments while at the same time acknowledging where things might have gone wrong. Also, I would have taken this opportunity to ask for the city resident’s support for another term. Getting angry and annoyed hardly helps his cause!

    Finally, who told you that a mayor is not supposed to disclose his wealth? All public servants holding KEY positions are supposed to do it. I find your suggestion above very comical. Everyone knows the local government is as corrupt and rotten as any other institution.

  4. Sara says:

    I agree These people are who are insulting the mayor are only mad because they were not able to engage in corrupt practices with the Mayor!! Viva Soltelco

    • Yassin says:

      Sarah, no one is against the mayor. We all know that it is a difficult job, given the current circumstances. We are not politicians here. Instead, as readers of Somaliland Press, we see ourselves as proud and patriotic citizens who want to see development and progress.

      Yes, there are tremendous changes coming up in the city everyday. I see the ever changing skyline, with buildings coming up every day. This is good news. Regretably, in my view this has very little to do with our mayor. I believe it is the hard work and sweat of Somalilanders, especially from the diaspora. Despite their efforts, I feel the local government has not exactly matched the good work of this investors. I will give you a few examples below.

      Look at the roads. Very few are tarmacked. I am aware that some fall within the jurisdiction of the central government. The estate roads do not. Very few lighting. In fact, bulbs hang dangerously in place of street lights. Talking of traffic lights, many seem not to work. They strangely spring back to life when we have visitors.

      There is garbage everywhere. Plastic sheets hanging from trees and shrubs. When its windy, they fly into your face. You might be forgiven for mistaking them to UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects). Insecurity is rampant over the estates. Young unemployed youth lurk in the dark. Woe unto you if you meet them. There’s severe water shortage all over town. Visit Burco and you’ll be surprised to see water flowing 24/7 and is available cheaply.

      Perhaps the greatest danger is the hanging power lines. A local newspaper described it as a “disaster waiting to happen”. We survive by Allah’s Grace. Each time it rains, you find flying roof-tops, building materials etc.

      These are the things I expect the mayor to address in a public conference. He has to give us convincing reasons why he is in office and what he is doing about them. Of course, I realise he has no magic “wand”. All these do require time. He has to be honest about it. We understand.

      In developed countries, the city mayor is often a stepping stone to higher ambitions. We have seen this in countries like France. I want our mayor to see himself as a potential future president and act accordingly. Mere lip service hardly helps. We want to see concrete accomplishments and action.

      Is it a crime for a city resident to ask this from his mayor? I don’t think so. We are not businessmen interested in contracts. We are interested in results. There is no better way to answer your detractors by letting your results speak for themselves. Has the mayor done this? I’ll live you to answer that query!

    • Yassin says:

      Sahra, I may be wrong but I have this strange feeling that may be you are connected to the mayor somehow. Perhaps as an employee (Personal Assistant?) or his subordinate in the local government.

      By the way, I was not there during the live interview, although some of our young friends were there. I did watch it on YouTube though. Speaker after speaker took the mayor to task over his achievements. There was only one exception. A lady clad in black buibui. Was it you? Each time you stood trying to say something. Personally, I am a firm believer in giving others time to say their views. Which she did eventually.

      What I found strange was the mayor’s reaction. He appeared averse to constructive criticism. One lady even suggested he would literally shut his door on their face. She claimed to have waited to see him for over ten days and more.

      A mayor is supposed to exercise an “open door” policy. But his security are secluding him. No one wants a recluse mayor. We want a people-friendly man!

  5. Ahmed says:

    That was the most honest and most beneficial Q&A session to take place in somaliland, the fact that people especially the youth know about what goes on their city and want it improved from the current situation, it should be something that celebrated now frowned on.. Some of the questions were on point.. In fact they were all point.. Some came prepared and they never wasted anyone’s time, they got to the point, and others spoke out of frustration, like the guy who asked why is he spending money taken from women selling veg in the hargesa heat, and that money spent on new ministers dinners and parties…he seemed a bit arrogant, above questioning, like the whole exercise was a waste of his time.. Lastly I don’t think it should be the job of the TVs to bring these guys to answer questions from the people who elected them.. It should be like an AGM meeting once a year.. The people come and asks reasons questions of the elected members..

  6. Yassin says:

    Ahmed, nice observations. The youth of Hargeisa know the multitude of problems facing them like “tahrib”, unemployment, idleness and a general neglect from the authorities.

    Being the first youthful mayor of Hargeisa, they expected the incumbent to identify with their problems. Regretably, this appears not to be the case. He appeared to me to be arrogant and very abrasive instead of being calm and composed.

    In other countries like neighbouring Kenya for instance, the mayor (they now call him the “governor” there), the mayor is elected directly by the city residents who vote through the ballot. There is also a Senator who has an oversight role over the mayor. This acts as a system of self checks and balances to curb abuse of power.

    Also, the media play a very crucial role in that they organise public meetings and debates between the elected representatives and the represented. These are done in huge halls or conference centres nearly every month.

    Like one lady observed Mr Abdirahman Soltelco appeared evasive and did not want to listen to the grievances of the residents especially the women. Of course, I agree that he may probably not have the time to meet each and every city resident. But the least he could do was meet groups of local resident representatives just to hear them out.

    I am proud of what HCTV did. When the mayor proved evasive, they had to device clever ways to get him to respond to the wishes of the city residents. He had no time to do a pre-conceived list of Q&A session. He was caught literally with his “pants down”. In Auditing this is called a “surprise check”. He was caught offside. He never knew what had hit him. Very beautiful lessons to those who think they are in office to sleep on the job!

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