By:Presidential Candidate Ali Haji Warsame
Somalia will elect a new President on February 8 as the country strives to overcome its history of decades-old conflict. About 24 candidates have been cleared to run for the top post and their fate will be decided by 329 members of the Lower and Upper Houses who will elect the new President.
But the question dominating political discussions among Somalis is whether the legislators will heed the public’s heightened calls for reforms and elect a new reformist technocrat to steer the country’s destiny for the next four years. This comes amid deep public frustrations over failure by current and past career politicians to fix security, runaway corruption, restore vital services and enhance good governance.
A host of former top leaders are seeking another chance in office including incumbent President Mohamud, former President Sheikh Sharriff Ahmed, and former Prime Ministers Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, Mohammed Abdullahi Farmaajo and Ali Mohammed Gedi among others.
But time has come to bet on a technocratic and reformist leadership in Somalia. Currently, there is a serious leadership crisis in Somalia that is unable to tackle pressing challenges including the perennial drought that has left at least 3.5 million people in dire need of food.
All the elements needed to rebuild Somalia are there. The only element lacking is a visionary and technocratic leadership. For instance, the management of public resources under successive Somali governments has been dismal, with government resources getting lost through corruption and bureaucratic wastage.
That’s why even the security forces and civil servants often go for months without pay despite the government getting considerable revenues. Much of the funds received from the international community are not reflected in the official budget. There are no effective accountability systems to ensure prudent use of public resources.
Somalia and the region needs peace and stability, hence significant investments are required to build a unified national army well-paid, equipped and trained. The security forces are not only poorly funded and trained but are also built along clan lines, making them less effective. Somalia cannot depend on Amisom to secure the country, indefinitely.
A new leadership also needs to tackle unemployment, reconciliation of Somalis and restore social services like education and health. That’s a why Somalia needs a reformist and technocratic leadership more than ever before.