Main problem facing Somalia's government
Fri 21-02-2014 08:35:56

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I wanted to share with you my observation of  my recent stay in Mogadishu, in regard with  main problems facing the Somalia's government.   There are many problems facing the Somali government but I think the most striking  and observable one , I found, is lack of low and middle ranking qualified human resources. When I say low/middle ranking, I'm referring to any government employee below ministerial  level. Let me explain this.

Any institution in the world, including governmental institutions, relies  heavily  on the low/middle rank officers to carry out its day-to-day duties properly.

In the government's case, it is the policemen/women, army soldiers, tax officers, immigration officers and civil servants that carry out the actual government duties. The top government officials are mainly to manage, direct  and set  the vision and strategies.  Top level officials also make sure their subordinates perform and be accountable. It is low/middle level officers in each department that carry out the actual tasks. Low/middle level personnel are at the heart of the institution.

Unless Somali government improves the quality of rank-and-file members, the top guys including the president and council of ministers cannot make the government function as government. It is specially very important in the security sector. They need to hire people with good personal, mental and physical quality,  giving priority to those with at least high school education for police and national security.   Good behaviours should be enforced including  khat/drug-free policy.

If you look at the people who are currently employed by the government specially those in uniform, you can definitely see why the government is  never  able to function as a government. Majority of the so-called Somali police and military  seems to be from the worst   in the society.  What really shocked me was not their ungodly and common criminal behaviours but  their  extreme vulnerability to their enemies; their lack of basic survival thinking and threat assessment. Forget about protecting the population or enforcing the law,  I called them “hilib meel saran”. Their lives are cheaper than the notorious flies of Mogadishu. They never learn from their deadly mistakes. They repeat the same deadly mistake day-after-day.  They destroyed the reputation of positions they hold. I'm talking about the majority of them.
The relationship of Mogadishu population with Al-shabaab is one of hate and extreme fear. But people’s relationship with the police and military is one of contempt and disgust.  People in Mogadishu call military/police personnel as "Calal Uus ( people with filthy garments)". This name came about during Ethiopian invasion, referring to those who were in government uniforms and  were working with Ethiopians. That name stuck with police and military.
For these reasons, it is hard to find anybody in Mogadishu,  who is  known to have some decency in society,  applying for a job in the police and military department. As a result  of this bad reputation, people who are seeking or currently occupying  these positions are the worst in the society.
To give  you a real example that shows the bad reputation of police and military,  there is a cousin of mine who finished high school and qualified to sit for some Turkish scholarship exam. Some time after the exam, he  went to the exam office and he was given  a package.  His initial excitement turned into disappointment when he  found out the package contained an offer of two-year scholarship in police academy in Turkey. He ripped the letter apart and threw it away!

When I was told what he did, I was surprised at the opportunity squandered and asked him why he did that? He said "I did not go to school to become ‘Calal Uus' ". Some people may think this guy could be al-shabaab sympathizer but I know  he is not. This gives you a hint of how low people think of such important and crucial jobs as becoming police officer, an army officer or regular civil servant! National Security Service has slightly better reputation that the police and military because they are mostly unknown  to the population.

In contrast with the government, when you go to offices of one of  the private businesses in Mogadishu, you will find reasonable and  well-mannered young people working there. Now,  try going to a government office and you will be so sad-stricken at quality of the people who are there! In every way you look at it, people  who fill in low/middle rank  government offices are the worst in the society! Take the airport, for example;  there are two types of Somalis you will find  working at  the airport;  people who  work for  different airlines and people who work for the government such as police, immigration officers, military and tax officers.   

The people who work for the airlines are reasonable and professional.  But is hard to describe  the appearance and  manners of those who claim to be government employees.  The question I asked myself was why the government is not able to find people who are at least as good as the ones who are working in the private sector? Isn't  same pool of people available for both private and government sectors.

Until the government improves its reputation, attracts and employs those normal and reasonable young people as the ones working in the business sector, things will not improve from the top!

In my opinion, all  meagre resources of the government should be directed addressing this issue.
Another phenomenon that I observed  is that  people with degrees, who  are looking for jobs in the government sector,  want to start from the top. Every one wants to be a be a minister, MP or ambassador! It is highly likely, in a normal situation, this guy/girl is not even qualified to be director/manager or even an officer, let alone a minister or MP!

We need to find a way to make serious people start from the bottom.  Both in government and corporations , most high ranking officials  started from the bottom and climbed their way up the ladder in many years of service. Nobody starts from the top!

Nour  Omar,
Dallas, Texas.
nour2005@gmail.com
 

Qoraaga: Nour Omar