“Worshipping a dictator is such a pain in the ass” complains IkemOsadi, the Editor of National Gazzette in Chinua Achebe’s novel, Anthills of the Savannah, published in 1987. His outburst is prompted by the fickle conduct of a president who has grown from false messiah to monster as explained by Martin Meredith, the author of the struggle for democracy in The State of Africa.
Thirty-two years later, President Faramaajo of Somalia has campaigned on the false premise of nationalism and anti-Ethiopian rhetoric and within the first two years of his tenure turned into a despot, how prophetic and befitting a description on the state of democracy in Somalia!
In his first year he has displayed his true personalities by snuffing out any sign of dissent, closure of political space and denying political opponents to hold public gatherings in Mogadishu in violation of articles (18, 19, 20) of the provisional constitution and the use of excessive and undue force against political opponents.
Hitherto, exposing his autocratic tendencies by consolidating power through the elimination of independent institutions of judiciary and the office of auditor general and ushering them into the executive, while suspending all other government functions and political programs of peace-building and state building efforts. With that backdrop, three important incidents (points) that reflect the autocratic behaviour of President Faramaajo are worth explaining;
1. The blatant attack of his political opponents is demonstrative of a dictator in the making; the misconceptions created by the lack of reaction on the part of the victims- (the attack on Senator Qaybdiid and Abdirahman Abdishakur) for instance, is construed as a show of state power against its political opponents, this indeed is false narrative to mislead and change public perception. While the attacked opposition politicians could have responded in kind, they opted to remain passive and showed political maturity, knowing well such coercive measures by NISA will only undermine government legitimacy and eventually help the political position of the opposition groups. Should they have opted to resort to violence, the public perception would have been different, and they would have been perceived as spoilers, but are now regarded as responsible and credible opposition politicians.
2. Notwithstanding the system of federalism, the current political squabble that engulfed the relationship between Federal Government and Federal Member States is indicative of President Faramaajo’s disdain with decentralization of power. Changing the course of state building project through the use of state authority to bring FMS at the whims of Villa Somalia sets a dangerous precedence. The interference of FGS with FMS elections as reflected by the use of state resources by Villa Somalia to oust South West president is intended to consolidate power through centralization. President Faramaajo is working on destabilizing Galmudug State, by establishing an illegal administration, a sort of parallel president to challenge the legitimate administration of Galmudug, just to show case the federal system is not working in Somalia, thus consolidate power in the center. Similar scheme is at work in Jubbaland, credible information received by MOL indicates that the FGS is arming clan Militia loyal to president faramaajo in Ghedo region to destabilize the security of Jubbaland, thus challenge the legitimate authority of President Ahmed Madobe of Jubbaland.
3. The blatant personal attack against former Minister of Internal Security and current member of federal parliament,who has been a staunch critic of Villa Somalia reflects the extent Villa Somalia is willing to go to violate the provisional constitution and other laws of the land. He is one of few MPs who have critiqued security strategies and other policies of the government and is considered as one of the most effective critics of Villa Somalia. The machination of National Intelligence and Security Agency to silence opposition politicians and particularly, provoking former Minister of Security has exposed how low this inept leadership can go, by using state security apparatus to silence dissent voices. His press conference on November 4, 2018 dispelled the concocted lies by NISA and he strongly called NISA an oppressive state security apparatus bent on intimidating anyone with an opposing viewpoint.
If history is a teacher, many who have tried to rule with power in Africa have succumbed to the tide of protest by the people. When former Dictator of Nigeria president Babangida of Nigeria failed to garner the support of his people, he resorted to “Babangida-must-stay” campaign, and at the centre of his campaign was a proxy organization called the association for Better Nigeria (ABN). In the end Babangida lost the election. This same strategy is now at play in Villa Somalia to mislead the public by spending international aid resources on social media trolls to propagate for Villa Somalia, with “Faramaajo-ii-Geeya” and “Nabad-iyo-Nolol” campaign slogans intended to dupe the public and international community.
In the interest of the Somali people and to move the country forward, federal government of Somalia must change course as the trajectories of state building is messy and requires political inclusivity, transparency, accountability and delineation of independent government institutions such as the judiciary. These are just few of the core ingredients of good governance and basic foundations for peacebuilding and state building initiative. It is imperative that Villa Somalia engages with the oppositions groups and political parties to form a unity government that will pave the way for one person one vote in 2020 – 2021, in order to avoid a relapse to insecurity.