4 Lessons new Mayor must learn from his predecessor -UM

Former Mayor of Mogadishu Thabit Abdi

Mogadishu (UM) – Following a day and night of high drama, the former Mayor of Mogadishu Thabit Abdi was sacked in spectacular style by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo. This is perhaps the most fitting ending for one of the most media obsessed Mayor in the city’s history.

The very public manner of the former Mayors dismissal sends many messages that the new Mayor and former Information Minister ought to take note of. If he does not, he is likely to go the same way.

  1. Know your place

Former Mayor Thabit Abdi let power get to his head. He thought that by simply having senior contacts in Government his influence extended beyond what it really was. Mr. Abdi also saw himself as one of the people that successfully campaigned for the success of President Farmaajo and unfortunately presented himself as an international figure which he was not. During his short tenure, the Mayor deviated into roles otherwise reserved for Cabinet Minister’s and political advisers at the Federal Level making himself unpopular and many political enemies along the way. Instead of waiting for the constitutional process to determine the status of the Benadir region, Thabit Abdi sought to force a decision by attempting to mobilise Mogadishu residents, including elders, without much success.  Embarrassingly, the former Mayor unsuccessfully attempted to get himself elected by unelected District Commissioners he handpicked himself before he was sacked.

If only Thabit knew his place he would still be employed today.

  1. Focus on your job

As a Mayor, the real duty of Thabit Abdi was to ensure that the Benadir Region was well governed, and its residents provided with the necessary public services, including, security, infrastructure and economic opportunities. Instead, Mr. Abdi focused all his energy on politicking with the Federal Government and highlighting a few small projects which benefitted a few rather than the many. Thabit Abdi’s obsession with wearing a red band after the tragic October Zoobe attack did nothing but to remind the people of the failure of the security services. It did nothing to improve security, provide public services and assist the remaining victims to recover their livelihoods. This should have been his focus as a Mayor. If only Thabit Abdi just focused on the boring day to day tasks of local government, he would not have been dismissed. He would have been the hero he dreamed of been.

  1. Do not rely on clan

It was funny to see the new Mayor having lunch in Liido with the same elders and community leaders that only hours previously were supposedly threatening unrest in Mogadishu if Thabit Abdi was dismissed. In relying on clan, Mr. Thabit Abdi, miscalculated their loyalty and their influence in a diverse, multi-clan capital which is not controlled by any one family. It is a fact that all that have replaced his group are from one family, but this is a hasty error made by the Federal Government which must be corrected given the capital’s diversity and the scale of the challenge ahead to reform them.

The new Mayor will only succeed if he recognises, promotes and celebrates the diversity of the Capital of the nation. Mogadishu is the heart of the Somali nation and belongs to no one and everyone that is Somali.

  1. No short cut to success

Thabit Abdi’s career has been one of luck and favours. He was appointed as Chief of staff by the former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, his father in law, after returning from the UK where he was reportedly unemployed. Then they fell out publicly. He was then transferred as a favour to the President to Washington DC as Deputy Ambassador. Following this, he was appointed Mayor by President Farmaajo. Listening to the praise of the ill-informed “yes men/women” around him and believing his own publicity, Thabit Abdi made the grave error of believing he could play a greater political role in an already occupied position. Now he is sacked with no real professional and political experience which leads easily to another career. It is plausible that he will join the disorganised and disgruntled Naiobi based opposition made of former Government employees and political figures waiting to be called in from the wilderness like in the past. It is unlikely he will ever see the warmth of this government again.

The new Mayor, Eng. Abdirahman Omar Osman Yarisow, is only a day into his new role but he is an experienced political player with a calm personality who is not easily fooled by “Yes men/women.” Still, he must learn from the mistakes of his predecessor and provide the leadership the residents of Mogadishu need to turn this city into the successful one it could be. He needs to also focus on the financial transparency and good governance to gain public trust to finance public services.

UM wishes the new Mayor, Eng. Abdirahman Omar Osman Yarisow, every success in his new role. UM also wishes Thabit Abdi learns the lessons of his mistakes and pursues his private ambitions with success.