Fix the pressing problems at home, Mr. President – UM

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo Speaking at Somali Islamic Scholars conference in Mogadishu. Photo courtesy: Villa Somalia

Mogadishu (UM) – President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has once again gone off in his private jet to Egypt and Eritrea at a time of political paralysis at home. Parliament and the Upper House are still not talking to each other, the opposition are mobilising in Nairobi and the public remain tired of this chronic political failure. When he is needed most at home, the president has shown bad judgement by travelling to irrelevant meetings which does not serve Somalia’s interest.

In his speech to the Somali Islamic scholars, the president was very honest about the challenges the country faces. These are huge and spread across politics, economics, security and social integration within Somalia. What the president seems to always forget is that he is in charge of fixing this complete mess because he is the elected president. Somalis are not relying on a Prime Minister whose cabinet is failing and who has become obsessed with his own personal image. They are also not waiting to be rescued by a disorganised and confused opposition whose sole purpose is settling disputes with personalities in government rather than proposing alternative policies. The Somali people are waiting for the president they celebrated enthusiastically after his election in February 2017 to re-appear.  Up to now, the Somali people have a right to be disappointed with the leadership of President Farmajo. He is the president and therefore the buck stops with him.

After this round of pointless international travel for obscure reasons, the president must focus on the pressing domestic issues. Somalia is expected to hold universal elections, yet nothing is prepared or agreed to date. Any extension will be a failure in the eyes of the Somali public and international partners. The Federal member states have decided not to come to Mogadishu to meet with the president, despite his invitation. This is something he must take seriously and work hard to bring back on track, otherwise, Somalia’s challenges will never be resolved. There are some reforms which are going well but as the president recognised himself the economy is in a miserable state with insecurity and corruption hurting businesses. Security is the key to all of Somalia’s problems and the president as the commander-in-chief must take personal responsibility for this.

The government is entering the second half of its term at a difficult time in which Somalia has fewer international friends than ever before. Somalia is no longer the poster child for anything of interest to the world and traditional and new allies, including Turkey, UK, Qatar and the EU are growingly frustrated by the slow pace of reform and the Somali government actions. Yet, president Farmajo still has political capital which he can use to transform Somalia’s pressing challenges into successes and opportunities. However, to do this, he needs to get out of his comfort zone, take personal responsibility and step up to the domestic challenges. The Somali people have seen enough of a tired and disillusioned president Farmajo who is always chasing after the public agenda rather than setting it. They no longer want to see the president defending failure he often was not involved in. The public want to see a president leading the agenda and delivering real results for the people he chose to serve. Mr. President, it is not too late; just focus and get back to the issues that matter, quickly.