What kind of Nation do we want to be? the Challenges of Nation Building in Somalia
30 March 2017
The referendum is all about the kind of nation we want to be, do we want to be a nation that is willing to build on the values we share with our global; that is open to partnership, and that has a contribution to make that is Somalia, its neighborhood and rest of the world?Or do we want to be limited, a country going it alone, aloof and self-serving?
Choosing what kind of government we want to govern us as a people is the whole point of free and fair, democratic national elections.The people of this country want a government – and they deserve it – that respects good governance; cares that every Shilin of State-funds is spent with carefulness and sound accountability; is transparent and open; that respects the ordinary workers; that opens the State-owned media to their voices; that develops equality of opportunity for economic, social and career advancementSomali people deserves good government that is accountable and fair, where every individual has access to a professional justice system.
Nations are an important part of modern society. If we go back into history, we see that the world used to be divided into empires and kingdoms. In the modern period, however, nations or nation states have replaced empires as the basic unit of human political organization.
Concept of building a Nation:
Nation-building is always a work-in-progress; a dynamic process in constant need of development and re-invention. Nation-building never stops and true nation-builder never rest because all nations are constantly facing up to new challenges.
Nation-building has many important aspects. Firstly, it is about building a political entity which corresponds to a given territory, based on some generally accepted rules, norms, and principles, and a common citizenship. Secondly, it is also about building institutions which symbolize the political entity – institutions such as a bureaucracy, an economy, the judiciary, universities, a civil service, and civil society organizations. Above all else, however, nation-building is about building a common sense of purpose, a sense of shared future, a collective imagination of belonging.
Nation-building is therefore about building the tangible and intangible threads that hold a political entity together and gives it a sense of purpose. Even in these days of globalization and rapid international flows of people and ideas, having a viable nation remains synonymous with achieving modernity. It is about building the institutions and values which sustain the collective community in these modern times.
In today’s world, skills, industriousness, productivity, and competitiveness are the determinant factors of national greatness. Not even the possession of the nuclear bomb is enough to make a nation great without reference to the industriousness and creativity of its citizens. Since the time of Adam Smith, every serious nationalist and politician has come to know that the wealth of a nation is not based on the wealth and opulence of its rulers, but on the productivity and industriousness of its citizenry.
The real question is why has the task of nation-building been so difficult in Somalia for the last 57 years (1) threats and challenges posed by the environment for nation-building; (2) the quality of leadership that has confronted these challenges; and (3) the fragility of political and development institutions. We need to understand the environment for nation-building in Somalia, so we can clearly identify our strengths, weaknesses, and core challenges.
Challenges before Somalia Nation-building
Somalia faces five main nation-building challenges:
(1) the challenge from our history; (2) the challenge of socio-economic inequalities; (3) the challenges of an appropriate constitutional settlement; (4) the challenges of building institutions for democracy and development; and (5) the challenge of leadership.
The Challenge of History
The historical legacies of colonial rule create some challenges for nation-building in Somalia. Colonial rule divided Somalia into five with different land tenure systems, from this historical legacy; therefore, regionalism has been a major challenge to nation-building in Somalia. Unfortunately, the lack of consolidation of Somali federalism around commonly shared values and positions means that this challenge of divisive historical legacy continues to undermine our efforts at nation-building, the creation of tension about clan federalism that abolished (Somalinimo) this division has been a source of domestic tension and undermined our efforts at creating a common nationhood.
While we should learn from history so as not to repeat its mistakes, we must never see ourselves simply as victims of our history; it is our responsibility to overcome the challenges posed by our history.
The Challenge of Socio-Economic Inequalities
An important aspect of nation-building is the building of a common citizenship. But how can we have a common citizenship when the person in Garowe has a radically different quality of life from the person in Kismayo? Or when the woman in Baidao is more likely to die in childbirth than the woman in Galhareri? Through the development of the economy and equal opportunities for all, or through the development of social welfare safety nets, mature nations try to establish a base-line of social and economic rights which all members of the national community must enjoy. Not to enjoy these socio-economic rights means that the people involved are marginalized from national life.
In Somalia, however, not only are many of our citizens denied basic rights such as the right to education and health, there is also serious variation in the enjoyment of these rights across the country. As a consequence, the citizen is not motivated to support the state and society, because he or she does not feel that the society is adequately concerned about their welfare. Secondly socio-economic inequalities across the country fuels fears and suspicious which keep our people divided.
The Constitutional Challenge
Since the independence of the country has been facing the challenge of crafting a constitutional arrangement that has the backing of foreign experts. This is the historical background of Somalia constitution from 1949 until 2012.
The Challenge of Building Institutions for Democracy and Development
One of the greatest challenges of nation building is the challenge of institution building. Whether nations are able to manage their political and social disputes peacefully, without lapsing into conflict, or sustain economic growth without creating huge inequalities, critically depend on the quality of the relevant national institutions.
There are two important components to institution building: setting the rules; hiring persons with the technical expertise and moral competence to interpret the rules or implement the goals of the organisations; and ensuring that the institutions inspire public confidence by being transparent, fair and consistent.
These are also the standards by which the performance of any organisation, in particular, public sector organisations should be measured. This shows that the act of creating the organisation itself is not as important as its proper functioning and overall effectiveness. In this regard, Somalia needs to create or strengthen institutions that would help achieve the national goals of democratic governance and sustainable development.
(a) Institutions for public service delivery
The civil service is the main instrument and institution of public service delivery. Traditionally, the civil service performs three functions: supporting the policy making function of government at the federal, state and local government; facilitating or regulating the private sector; and providing managerial leadership for operating public sector enterprises. The capacity of the Somali civil service to perform its statutory functions is critically dependent on its ability to attract and retain competent and highly skilled persons in the professional category; the willing to offer attractive pay and benefits package; and the modernisation of the office infrastructure.
(b)The Judicial Institutions
The Judiciary is an important institution is any democracy but they are essential to the functioning of the country. The judiciary not only arbitrates disputes between the various levels of government, between government and citizens, and among citizens but also among private sector agents. Given its pivotal role in national stability and economic prosperity, some of the major features of good institutions noted earlier are particular relevant. These are that institutions should have persons with the technical expertise and moral competence to interpret the rules or implement the goals of the organisations; and ensure that the institutions inspire public confidence.
(c) Institutions for Economic Governance
The functioning and effectiveness of a market-based economy such as Somalia relies on several institutions. It requires an institution to regulate the supply and flow of money and the financial system (Central Bank); to allocate capital to firms and individuals (Banks and Stock Exchange); to insure against commercial risks (insurance firms); to insure individual bank depositors against loss of up to certain amount (deposit insurance); to enforce contractual obligations (courts); and to collect revenue for the government (fiscal authorities).
The Leadership Challenge
Leadership is a critical factor in nation-building and it should be understood in two important but related ways. Firstly, there are the personal qualities of integrity, honesty, commitment, and competence of individual leaders at the top. Secondly, there are the collective qualities of common vision, focus, and desire for development of the elites as a whole.
The standards for recruitment and the performance of our individual leaders over the years have left much to be desired.
We do not need leaders who see themselves as champions of only some sections of our population. We do not need leaders who do not understand the economic and political problems of the country, not to talk of finding durable solutions for them. We do not need leaders who are more interested in silencing their opponents, than in pursuing justice. We do not need leaders, who preach one thing, and do the exact opposite. We do not need leaders who place themselves above the constitution and the laws of the country, but leaders who lead by upholding and respecting the law. We do not need leaders who have no sense of tomorrow, other than that of their private bank accounts.
If we are to succeed in nation-building, we must have a leadership that is committed to the rule of law and has a demonstrable sense of fairplay and democratic tolerance; a leadership with ability and integrity; above all else, we must have a leadership that can see beyond the ostentatious pomp of office. We must have leaders who have a vision for a Somalia better than the one they inherited; leaders who will lead by deeds and not by words; achievers, not deceivers. We need a leadership that will not only leave its foot-prints on the sands of time, but one, which by dint of hard-work, fairplay, dedication and commitment, will live forever in the hearts of Somalis.
Leadership is not everything, but it is an extremely important factor. Unless we have leaders with ability, integrity, commitment, and vision, we cannot succeed at nation-building. It is gratifying to note that within the judiciary, the National Assembly, and within the Executive, the issue of the quality of leadership is currently receiving attention. We must not relent in this struggle for quality leadershipas it is the key to building our nation.
Beyond the qualities of individual leaders, however, there is the equally important question of the quality of the collective leadership offered by the Somalia elite class as a whole. After all, a tree cannot make a forest, and an individual leader cannot do everything alone. When I talk about collective elite leadership, I am illustration attention to the collective vision, focus, and discipline of the elites as a whole. Do we have elite that is collectively committed to nation-building?
When a Somali leaders, by words and deeds, is able to convince a large enough section of the Somali elites and the wider public about a vision for a greater tomorrow, then Somalia will truly be on the way to national greatness. While our experiences in the past have been disappointing, we have every reason to believe that the future is likely to be better.
I would like to end my article by reiterating that nations are built by men and women who have the will and vision to accomplish greatness, not for themselves, their immediate families and friends, but for their country. I believe that if we can find the will to offer such a leadership, and support it by strong and dependable political and economic institutions, we will find a way to our national greatness.
Garad Yusuf Mohamud, is researcher and Author of Politics, a bachelor Degree of Social Science; Program of Public Administration in SIMAD UNIVERSITY Mogadishu-Somalia, and also holds Postgraduate Diploma in Law, Muqdishu University, and the current employment is member of Galmudug State Parliament and Chairperson Committee of Finance, Economy, Business and Industry at Galmudug Legislature, you can reach.
by Garaad Yuusuf|