By Ali Mohamed
October 31, 2014
Lewis Center, Ohio—The Somaliland voters will go to the polls to elect a new leader in 2015. To save the country from plunging into abyss, first, we must find a presidential nominee that could send President Silanyo to retirement. That person needs to unite the majority of Somalilanders with a bold agenda to build Somaliland’s economy and a vision to move Somaliland forward. With economic growth we are able to tackle many challenges our country is facing such as lack of basic services of water and electricity, ill-equipped health care system and poor infrastructure.
But the presumptive 2015 Wadani presidential nominee Speaker Erro is not that person. The Speaker is a decent man, who deeply cares about our country; however, he is not yet ready to be president, because of his inept and failed leadership to run the parliament and the lack of legislative accomplishment. Erro, a former civil servant, was elected the speaker of the parliament in 2005, not on the merit of his political skills or policy expertise but because he was willing to advance the political agenda of then candidate Silanyo.
However, holding the 2015 presidential election on schedule looks uncertain .After Somaliland parliament failed to vote for the confirmation of the electoral commission. The parliament fell short to get the quorum required to conduct its business. The majority of the legislators, who support Silanyo, did not show up for the vote because of a dispute with the speaker. They are accusing him that he submitted to the upper house a different version of the voter registration bill than the one they originally passed. This is the second time within this year; the parliament was shut down because Erro failed to get the support of the majority of the legislators.
Since Erro does not have the backing of the majority of the legislators, he should not be the speaker of parliament. The Speakership does not belong to any particular individual, party or Clan. In fact, Erro does not even deserve to be 2015 Wadani presidential nominee.
Erro’s first term as speaker expired in 2010. Since then his term has been extended so many times. But his legislative record is truly dismal. Erro’s parliament never passed any major piece of legislation that benefited the struggling Somalilanders, dealing with such important issues: land reform, water, security, public health and foreign policy.
The Parliament Erro has been presiding also never checked the massive corruptions, power abuses and the excess of former Riyaale administration and the current Silanyo administration.
Erro is an ineffective speaker and he made the parliament an irrelevant institution. Whatever legislative agenda, the special interest groups both domestic and foreign demanded such as communications, banking, and piracy, were passed without any hearings or debates.
Moreover, the speaker receives close to $1 million as a budget for his office just to make laws for the country and oversight the executive branch. But instead, of representing the public interest: to check and curb and the power abuses of the Silanyo administration; he chose to work closely with Silanyo and made the Parliament as an extension of Silanyo administration. That is why Silanyo’s party controls all branches of the government including the parliament.
The speaker is also partly to blame why the current Somaliland political system became rotten, corrupt and dysfunctional. He could not be an agent for a change.
Consequently, today, our government is not working for ordinary people. Our judicial system is broken. Corruption is rampant. Health care for women and children does not exist, for instance, in Hargeisa; infants are dying because of lack Hepatitis B vaccine. Basic services such as water or electricity are not available or most residents could not afford because of the cost. Even the local governments are not able to keep our towns clean.
I know, no matter what his miserable record as speaker is, there are people who would always support him. Because of the parochial, Clannish politics and the susceptibility of the Somalilanders to the Clan and the special taste they have for it. But the sooner the Wadani supporters face the bleak prospect of Erro becoming a president, the better chance the party would have a shot winning the presidency.
Finally, the 2015 presidential election is not far away. Somaliland people could not afford five more years of massive corruption, bad governance, power abuse, and denied opportunity to improve their lives. They want a change of leadership for a better future. But Erro who failed to manage the parliament, is not capable defeating President Silanyo. Instead, Somaliland needs a charismatic nomine with a political plan to save the country and to send Silanyo packing.
Ali Mohamed is co-founder of the Horn of Africa Freedom Foundation in Lewis Center, Ohio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.