Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Light at the end of the tunnel for Somalia

The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born -- that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born-Warren G. Bennis

The greatest problem bedeviling Somalia thus far is not how to rule the country but how to find a competent visionary leader who excels in the art of governance. Somali leaders lack faith in themselves; they have failed to create articulate visions and they have failed to present themselves as role-models. Lack of moral conviction, deficiency in inspirational communication, and being short of moral-correctness has been the determining factor that disqualified the abilities of many who attempted to govern Somalia in the past.

The absence of situational interaction, charisma, knowledge, and the skills required to effectively drive the nation to its right course have all led to the formation of enormously absurd power vacuums. The notion that leaders are born is no longer accepted in academia; instead, leaders are made. Heaping blame on tribalism and the legacy of imperialism, colonialism, and foreign meddling is not an excuse. Somalia needs to get out of the current quagmire. It is time to head-hunt for transactional, transformational, laissez-faire, task-oriented and people-oriented leaders who will get the country back on track and return its lost glory.

Since the collapse of the military regime in 1991, Somalia has seen several Presidents and an equal number of Prime Ministers come and go. Of the Prime Ministers, two were Professors. Of the Presidents, some were military men while others were civilians. Unfortunately, the Prime Ministers were used as one-time-use instruments while the interim Presidents left without finishing their official mandates. The last President, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, an uncompromising colonel and ex-guerilla fighter, bowed out a few days ago in a pensive mood without fulfilling his dream of pacifying and uniting the country. In fact, he hurriedly left behind convoluted networks of mysterious splinter groups with varying levels of unrelenting militancy. Pressure from the international community coupled with pounding political entanglement with his then Prime Minister, Hassan Nur Hussein, forced Yusuf to pave the way for a better breed which to me seems hard to create given the tribal, stubborn, spurious, egotistic, and nomadic paths Somali leaders have chosen to follow. The acting President, Sheikh Aden Madobe, who has been speaker of Somalia’s bloated parliament before Yusuf’s departure, is a former warlord lacking the administrative skills required of a leader. If there is any truth to it, the claim by unreliable sources that Sheikh Aden Madobe intends to hold on to the Presidency is obviously an outright infringement of the Somali constitutional charter. Sadly though, the power sharing agreement recently signed between Somalia’s otiose Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and some resistance groups in Djibouti is, according to some political analysts, an irrelevant enterprise. How a beleaguered, impoverished, and war-ravaged nation of 10 million foots the bill required to maintain a 550-member parliament is a question worth deliberating. The calculated departure of over a dozen parliamentarians allied to the former President from the government seat in Baidoa and the subsequent evacuation of hundreds of military personnel and their families from Mogadishu to the State of Puntland, is equally worth debating. Concern for their safety or fear of retaliation from antagonistic forces in the aftermath of the power vacuum, may have been the major reason for their swift departure. Also, the announcement by the Ethiopian government that it is withdrawing its forces from Somalia culminated in the creation of an impending threat for anyone associated with the former President regardless of tribal, political, and ideological affiliation. Thus, allies of the former President, Ethiopian forces included, as Franklin Roosevelt echoed in one of his inaugural addresses, had “…nothing to fear but fear itself.” Consequently, this out of the blue encroachment of revolt resulted in the creation of psychological reactions and distortions, inexistent mental creations and titular hardships that could lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for many fallen warlords and their on the guard followers in the long run.

The greatest threat after the departure of Ethiopian forces from Somalia will likely come from the armed religious group known as Al-Shabab. This is the militant group that has vested authority over almost the entire south of the country and henceforth there is the fear that if left unrestrained, Baidoa and Mogadishu will fall immediately when Ethiopian forces pack up and leave. The creation of Al-Shabab, a religious faction regarded as a terrorist organization by western governments, evolved not as a result of Somalia’s protracted war but as a deterrent to the TFG and the heavily-armed Ethiopian occupation forces immediately the Islamic Courts Union disbanded in January of 2007.

In conclusion, the world is ready to celebrate the 2009 Gregorian calendar while Muslims, followers of the Islamic faith, are rejoicing at the birth of the year 1430 of the Anno Hegirae. Equally and hopefully, the people of Somalia will be pleased to see the formation of a government based on justice, peace, and liberty a short time from now Insha Allah.

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