Somaliland:Minister Hussein Chose Seismic Oil Survey Over the Lives of the Starving in Saraar Valley

Since the arrival of Genel Energy, a predatory Anglo-Turkish energy company, in Somaliland in 2012, the inhabitants of Saraar Valley, the most coveted area for oil exploration, have sought attention and support from their government and the company to consider the desperate needs of their region for development. But both the government and the company ignored their pleas. The people then chose to repeatedly rebuff their efforts to unilaterally undertake oil explorations in the region.
That changed last month when a high powered delegation of four ministers, including Mr. Hussein Abdi Dualeh, the Minister for Energy and Natural Resources, some members of Parliament, scores of chiefs and other prominent delegates descended on Wiriir, to pacify the scorned and marginalized inhabitants who had peacefully stood up to the well-armed police and military forces sent to intimidate and threaten them if they would dare to challenge Mr. Hussein’s plans to start an oil exploration survey without consulting them.

Mr. Hussein, an intellectual snob, has run his ministry for years as his own due to the fact that he has the full support of some powerful members of the president’s family because, “he is the only one who brings money” by of course selling the natural resources of Somaliland to the lowest foreign bidders.
He has shown an utter contempt and disdain for the inhabitants of Saraar Valley and of others in the designated areas for oil exploration in the country. It infuriates him to encounter what he regards as riffraff and obstinate country bumpkins who don’t understand how the modern world works.

Well, what do you know? The honorable minister had to swallow his pride and intellectual pedigree and come down to planet earth to meet the traditional owners of Saraar Valley and to make peace with them to have the survey done immediately, and, in the process, he was obliged to throw a few crumbs to them. He had to sit down with them on dirt floors to negotiate with them on equal terms. No fancy offices. No cushioned chairs! He had to eat with them with his fingers! No golden forks and knives.

Earlier in the presidential palace in Hargeisa, he had been forcefully castigated in a hastily called meeting of the Council of Ministers, some members of Parliament and other high ranking officials. They squarely put the blame for the oil fiasco on him. The Minister made up his mind to redouble his efforts to get the seismic oil survey done expeditiously, and to ignore the plight of the people.

The Minister and the high powered delegation have failed to deliver the few crumbs they promised to the starving people like providing them with food and water. Now, people are literally dying of thirst and hunger.

But since the seismic survey is underway uninterrupted, he has reneged on his promises to them. He promised to dig a water well, which would be the most desperately needed commodity in the area because Saraar Valley lacks water wells. In a rainy season it is a lush savannah, but in a dry season it is a death valley for humans and animals alike.
Today, the inhabitants of Saraar Valley have been safely forgotten. Some local elders appealed to the oil survey operators but they rebuffed them. “In month or two,” they said, “we will hire some laborers among you for $5.00 a day each.” Meantime, they added, you are on your own.
Now, he has started a vigorous campaign to win over the inhabitants of Odweine region to conduct the seismic oil survey there. He brags about how he bested the backward and spineless people of Saraar Valley. He throws in, for a good measure, how civilized and reasonable the people of Odweine are unlike the idiotic country bumpkins of Saraar Valley.
Finally, Mr. Hussein Abdi Dualeh, is giddy about bringing the people of Saraar Valley to their knees with some help from a severe drought. The seismic survey will be completed soon and prized data will be delivered to Genel Energy, which will faithfully release the reportedly withheld millions of dollars to the Minister and other rogue elements of the Silanyo government.
The Honorable Minister for Energy and Natural Resources of Somaliland has clearly shown that carrying out the survey in the midst of a national catastrophe is more important to him and his cohorts than saving the lives of fellow citizens from starvation. Ultimately, it is all about money.
Osman Sultan Ali
Horn of Africa Journal, Founder


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