Scholarly proposal by Mohamed Farah Abdi (BA, MA)
Somalilandsun- Somaliland has come across challenges to achieve grassroots of development, functioning institutions and democratic governance. Lessons learned from different authorities over the last two decades highlighted the need for more efforts to improve quality of administration, effectiveness and efficiency of government and address major development constraints. Trust of citizens with the government deteriorated recent years. Current Kulmiye authority, spearheaded by Muse Bihi, faces critical challenges to improve value of government and trust among the government, citizens and international partners.
This paper proposeseleven major solutions to improve trust between government and citizens, good value of government and rapid economic growth, as well as to improve transparency, efficiency and effectiveness, enhance engagement of citizens, strengthen the rule of law, and fighting with corruption.It highlights challenges facing thenewly elected government to achieve effective performance of public service delivery and sustained growth of economy and good governance.
Government of Somaliland (GoSL) has been growing from ashes since 1990s. During state collapse and civil wars, only the physical buildings and office blocks did not go below the dust but also social ethics, trust and integrity of government faded away. With the involvement of private institutions, Diaspora and few NGOs, some of the ruined houses were being reconstructed, but the disintegrated system of government and social norms still needed repatriation and rehabilitation. The disintegrated system of government came up unsatisfactory performance of public offices and discontent of professional ethics, whereas most of qualified professionals went away, retired or ignored. Roles of government in delivering public services; such as education, medicine, water and electricity, were taken by private businesses with unregulated profit seeking practises. Public value of government weighed down by clan structures, dominant of the dependence to private services, and generally culture of corruption, tribalism and mistrust amongst the clans and government have been breeding for decades. Discredit of government effected government service delivery and the relationships between government and citizens and provision of a legitimate environment for government and citizens to interact. Clan balance of government created bad governance and poor democratic fashion of government.
During years of hostility of former Somali government, trust of government amongst civilians went down – shaped turn upside down culture of post conflict society in a fragile environment where citizens lacked trust with the governments. Distrust of citizens raised with the perception, ”the government is corrupt and non-responsive to their needs”, and so trust of citizens to pay tax, national sacrifice or take part and even invest their land corrupted.
Destitution of public services built up with differencesof development across the regions of Somaliland and scaled up difficult to bridge the divide and disloyalty amongst clans and the government. Context of distrust instituted an opportunity for bad guys to mislead citizens with misinformation, erecting further blockade of mistrust, and it strengthened assurances between sub-clans and within sub-sub-clan structures and governance of traditional leaders alongside with government authorities.
Misuse of media further contributes to the mistrust between the GoSL and citizens. Lack of proper regulations and limited professions of journalists impaired power of government to track and control them. Growing mistrust of citizens add up to the obstacles of citizens to understand and adhere to policies and strategies of government. Government officials misuse local media in a defragmented and inconsistency manner. They deliver conflicting messages to the public which further aggravated mistrust of citizens because of the unreliable and rootless discourses.
Disharmony within government structures grounded mistrust of citizens due to poor or lack of: administrative and accountability regulations, public sector protocols, qualifications of staffs, performance monitoring procedures and limited capacity in service delivery.
Missing laws and contradiction of regulations, uncertainty of legal actions, unfinished acts and policies, overlapping and unclear mandates and job descriptions between and within individuals and institutions: all contributes to the disgrace of government. Understanding and Implementation of rules and regulation is the principal measures to achieve engagement of citizens.
Even though GoSL went to the positive direction of development in recent years, still, there is a need to enhance citizen orientation and start valuable communication of government to the public. If the GoSL did not establish active public orientation, the naysayers would inform citizens, benefiting the gap, and they may raise hysteria of the people to protest against developmental agenda of government as seen in Somaliland. Good examples of protests to development programs are mining and oil explorations attempts, UAE investments, Somaliland Development Fund (SDF) funded projects, local factories, and many more investment programs. There is a need to regulate media and communications of government to the public, as well as, roles of traditional leaders in governmental issues and politics.
Public orientation is an important pillar for nation’s building and it’s an effective strategy to transform citizens and empower them to adhere government’s policies, abide the law and support the developmental interventions. Similarly, Nelson and Wright (Nelson, 1995), emphasize the citizen orientation is a transformative tool for social change. Lack of effective public orientation is a major obstacle towards the implementation of rules, investments and development interventions in Somaliland. Citing former government of Somalia, public orientation program was exercised to inspire civilians to play transformative roles in the rapid economic growth in the early 1970s. If we stand the positive corner in that orientation program, it was just public awareness raising plan which successfully resulted national unity; once citizens were participating public development a rapid economic growth was achieved.
Number of professional experts consulted by government is another important foundation for good governance and leadership to do trust of citizens. GoSL used to establish outnumbered temporary committees with presidential decrees with the aim of seeking solutions for the crucial problems . For example, former president Silanyo appointed more than 20 committees. Outputs and effectiveness of those committees are challenged bylack of coordination, availability of time – as most of them were busy ministers – and limited resources, the level of technocrats involved and methods of research utilized. Additionally, GoSL uses to appoints fired ministers and failed government officials as advisors of the president regardless their competence and qualifications. All those measures of seeking advices lingered into fruitless in solving critical national issues. But, appointment of senior technical advisors for the president and top class technocrats with high intellectual capacity would improve good outcome of solving critical issues.
Scholarly Proposalsto GoSL toEngaging Trust of Citizens
To attain trust of citizen, good value of government and rapid economic growth, newly elected government of Kulmiyeshould necessarily launch below scholarly proposals:
Mohamed Farah Abdi (BS, MA)
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