By: Mohamed Ahmed same
The fact that corruption is rampant in our country is not a secret to anyone. What you probably didn’t know is that corruption also goes higher up in the same organization that preaches good governance in our ears.
Enter,the Somaliland Business Fund: a project that has been largely successful and the Man of the Hour, Jim Duncan. Unless you have leaved under a rock for the past 18 months, you probably have heard of the Somaliland Business Fund and the many projects they have funded in different regions of the country. The legacy it will leave behind will be long lasting. Not so much, for its finance manager, Mr. Jim Duncan. Jim Duncan has tried to bamboozle the government, the World Bank and most importantly the very entrepreneurs he was supposed to assist.
He quickly learned that people of Somaliland are divided not along ethnic, religious and language but CLAN lines. So he used that old colonial ruse of divide and conquer. I actually met the man in Mansoor Hotel one night and was fascinated by his many stories about his love in fishing, his previous work experience in Afghanistan and favorite football team. But once we got to know each other better, he got very comfortable talking about other topics closer to his heart. It seems like he didn’t think much about the government, he would usually babble in length about how weak and spineless is the Minister of Planning, Saad Ali Shire, and then will move on to his disdain toward the arrogantMr. Mohamed Abdillahi Omar, the minister of trade and investment. There were not a single of word of respect toward this country and its people. Like a clumsy spy, in a low budget movie, he was always searching for the latest gossip in town.
Then the worst came. I introduced my aunt who wanted to apply for Round 2 to Mr. Duncan. Right away, Mr. Duncan suggested that the quality of writing is what makes or breaks a project and we should check out his friend who is a top consultant. When we went to see this consultant, who happened to be a Kenyan national, who owns a consultant firm, we were first amazed by the line-up at this office. There must be something that this guy is doing to get all his business, we thought. In fact, we figured out later what every lady in the street of Hargeisaknew that if this consultant blesses your proposal with his pen, you are sure to be selected for funding.
In fact some of the applicants that were shortlisted by the SBF were contacted by this specific consultant to engage his service before they even got the news from SBF that they were shortlisted. How? You guess it. Jim Duncan printed the list of shortlisted names of applicant and passeda hard copy to his friend – which means he get to contact all these clients before any other business consultant. Furthermore, the consultantnegotiateswith the client a specific price for writing the proposal and a premium, usually between 20% to 30% of the grant amount, for extra insurance that his proposal will be selected. So for example if you are looking for a grant of 150,000 from SBF, you pay a sum of 30K to 45K to the consultant; some of the money up front and the rest after you signed the contract. Understandably, the consultant and Jim Duncan can find 45000 ways to fairly divide all that cash.
A scandalous act that has made the community take matter into their hands. Fortunately, the like of Jim Duncan aren’t too manyin the country. I remember few years back, there was a lady you used to work at UNDP which was promising claimant of refugees a guarantee of their refugee claim being accepted if they pay $10,000.
In this particular case, I was glad to hear to hear that the unsuccessful applicant from Round 1 and Round 2 organized themselves to complain directly to first the World Bank, the donor organization, then the government of Somaliland. There is a petition of more than 200 people which have been passed to the courts detailing the account of this rogue consultant. Then the police, while being careful to use the legal framework in place,investigated the conduct of the consultant. Once it was obvious that in every corner there was a victim and the complaints were just too loud to ignore, the government then asked the concerning organization to replace thisunethical consultant. For the first time, I was proud of how swift the government reacted.
Jim Duncan was conniving individual who did not care one bit about his clients, in the contrary was working against the interest of the people. The organization he represented didn’t know much about his underground activities. He was always driven around in a dark, tinted-windows Crown Toyota and cut most of his deals at Fish & Steak restaurant, away from the sight of his comrades. Most of his colleagues didn’t know about his activities.
In this unprecedented act where a Manager of development consulting firm has been found unwanted and expelled from the country for unethical activities, the message was very clear to all the war-junkies consultant who came to Somaliland to make money on the back of the under-developed and bribe public official regularly: The people of Somaliland is the most hospitable in the horn of Africa;they would open their homes and hearts for anyone that shows respect for them,their culture, theirs laws and theirs institutions. But to the sowers of deceit, they say: BEWARE.
Mohamed Ahmed same