The problems that Somaliland people share in common are many. Poverty
is one. Ignorance is another. But bad leadership is unshared problem
of Somaliland people. The effects that are immanent in each vary.
Poverty, anywhere, on any scale, is a potential strife. But poverty is
not beyond repair and remedy. Human development and its mobilization
can make miracles. No country can overcome poverty unless its people
beat it. Proverbially people who have a why to live for can find
almost any how.
Ignorance is also very strong in everywhere, but it is not a shame.
All people are born ignorant. The shame can be a refusal to admit
ignorance and start learning.
Good leadership gets eroded for a variety of reasons. But do we know
when and how disgrace and downfall begin? When we hide our lack of
faith. When biases and prejudices control our minds. When we hail
predators and robber barons as heroes and start to rant and rave after
those who are pure and pious.
Leadership is a very tough assignment. It needs maturity and
mentality. It needs vision and future-mindedness. It needs integrity
and audacity. It helps to have had on-the-job training.
History judges leaders on their handling of the national interests,
not on their passions for power and privileges. The credibility of any
leader is revealed by what he does for his country and his people
specifically when the moment is hard. This credibility depends on the
quality of nobility, ideas of dignity, of unself-interestedness, of
largeness of spirit and of a rising above spit, faction and greed.
Presidency, the highest post of any nation, will always have unlimited
responsibility. It is a profession that is as hard as a rock as
anybody might think. It is too intellectual and far rigid in its roles
and requirements for the average person. By its essence therefore it
requires an extraordinary person with extraordinary skills – a
person that can maintain a steady course with the quality of being
honest and upright in character. .
That is a unifying skill that almost all Somaliland past presidents
did not have and the present one, Siilaanyo does not have. Siilaany’s
incapacity to pacify his policies and organize his administration is
his most personal weak power house characteristic. What Siilaanyo
appeals to is what those before him appealed to – a paranoid strain in
Somaliland politics that the past must always control the present.
The problem Somaliland finds itself in is always reminiscent of the
past, because whoever becomes a president for the country inherits his
predecessor’s awful legacy. Why everyone yearns naively in the past
legacies rather than new political patterns, cherishes over
undignified politics over the dignified polities and is not concerned
about how he could see a nation reshaped and reformed?
As anyone who is lucky enough to be a successful leader understands,
the abuse of power and evasion of national responsibility is a road to
disgrace and downfall. The better light of the faculty of ruling is
built on mutual respect, openness, honesty and a willingness to listen
Describing how the faculty of listening and learning is important for
leaders, Niccolli Machiavelli wrote in his masterpiece novel, the
prince, “A prudent man must always follow in the footsteps of the
great men and imitate those who have been outstanding. If his prowess
fails to compare with theirs, at least it must have an air of
greatness. A good man must behave like those archers who, if they are
skilful, when the target seems too distant, know the capabilities of
their bow and aim a good deal higher than their objective, not in
order to shoot so high but so that by aiming high they can hit the
It appears that Somaliland political leaders do not understand these
gems of truth too well and never practice them in both their political
and personal lives. If they understand and practice to learn and
listen, the picture we see these days in Somaliland should have been
better than the one we observe today.
It is not important who one is as a leader and which family hails
from. The important thing is who one has become and what one has done
for his own country. For the prosperity and progress of any country
depend much on how the rulers read their ideas and arrange their ideas
and envision the sense of tomorrow. Simple reasons explain
Right thinking leaders look at their time with a measure of suspicion
and circumspection. In conditions of widespread poverty and communal
strife, they increasingly work on how best they can get these problems
licked. They pace their policies and patch the holes and put things
together in a way that gives a good start. They think not of how to
clean the country’s roads; instead, they pick up a bit of garbage on
the road and drop it in a litter bin. They think not on how to feed
the country’s millions of hungry children; instead, they help the kid
on the corner to get a cup of milk.
Mohamed Mahatir of Malaysia did just this; he thought very small when
he rose to the power of his country. From his thinking small came
rural micro-credit and Malaysian projects, a powerful instrument of
social change, opportunities for Malaysians in Malaysia.
Obviously, nations will not develop unless the leadership at all
levels reaches some minimum standard of maturity. The matured leader
always picks up a talented team. If there is no talent on the team the
leadership chooses, the system does not work well.
It is by a collective effort, by bringing together the best minds in
the country, by following the reasonable norms of contacts and
cooperation that people can preserve their home, can make better and
Somaliland is a country that has seen great cruelty and hardship in
its time. It has seen the illusion of power and its ignorant
organization. The lessons of yesterday have been that illusion was a
laggard and blind. With this fact before us, Somaliland needs a
leadership that is too wise to understand that the problems of today
are sufficiently different and that the attempts to solve them require
fresh thinking and remedies that even the most detailed events of the
past will not provide.
The dogmas of the past are inadequate to the stormy present. The
occasion is piled high with challenges, and we must rise with the
occasions. The question is the need of this arid time is what?
The need of our time is nothing more than a leadership that is
intellectual if we are wise, analytical if we are ambitious, humane if
we care enough, considerate if we are kind, honest if we want to live
in an honorable life, prudent and pragmatic if we want to beat the
problems and the poverty we share. We need a leadership that must
think anew, and act anew. The imperative to act wisely and well is
just as urgent.
Arrogance, and the illusion to occupy positions and amass wealth
through illicit means is not a substitute for having the skills and
ideas and talent required to prevent the problems causing pains in the
first place. That is something we should be well advised to bear in
mind. If we won’t, Somaliland leadership will not flourish, any more
than a potato, if it be planted and replanted for too long a series of
generations in the same worn-out soil. What this means is that
Somaliland will always find itself in where “what is leadership” is
not the first question from impresario considering an ethic
Remember, any home filter has to be changed regularly to work right
and keep from becoming a health hazard in itself.
The ability to turn on the tap and take a long, cold drink of clean
water is something Somaliland people have not seen for so long. We may
have to begin thinking hard about what needs to be done about
Siilaanyo and his likes..
By: Jama Falaag.
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.