Ilhan 728×90
Ilhan 728×90

The Magic Power of Devolution and its Related Benefits

By Billow Abdi Hassan:

mandera roads-nepjournal

on going construction of a tarmac road in Mandera, the first of its kind in the area.

To start with, by the grace of God, in August 2010 Kenya had discovered a remarkable path to lasting development and balanced regional growths. In fact, to be precise, the middle economy East African state became the first of its friends to disregard the long serving document of the rule of law drafted by the British substituting it with a more powerful and locally specific constitution. During that time when the young and intelligent Kenyans were drafting it in Naivasha or in other parts of the biggest East Africa economy, they were determined and successful, to make it the document that will serve Kenyans with fairness and just.  If I am not wrong the 2010 constitution was mainly drafted and adapted to make equal Kenya’s eight diverse regions. Proportional sharing of natural resources and regional balance are the most significant missions of the document that I am interested in.

To some extent, this has come to be true.  Economic analyst from North Eastern  Kenya I once talked to about the benefits of the new constitution were generally summative to  the high budgetary allocation the regions has received from the national  treasury compared to what  we used to receive from independence to before January 2013, the period when the constitution was properly put into practice. Currently, the budgetary allocations for the county governments budget is shared based on population (45%), basic equal share (18%), poverty index (20%), and 8% and 2% for land area and fiscal responsibility respectively.  In total, from 2013 to date the three North Eastern counties have received close to Kshs52 billion on average less the constituency development funds and the local county revenue collections.  Although there are some corruption and fraud claims reported people have seen some development projects being started.  For instance, in my home town Wajir, I always give credit to the governor for the visible projects like the 25kms tarmacked roads besides the numerous jobs created, local investments and growth and advancement in the structural as well as the physical development by the locals.

Given that devolution is just three years and some months old, a lot of needed changes are in the pipeline. Can you imagine if we get connected to Garissa and Mandera from Wajir by just a two way class B paved road? And I think that’s a development goal of our governors although there is a dispute of who should do that, either the national or the county government?

Somalia Moving Fast to Stability

Since the federal government of Somalia graduated from being an interim government we have witnessed a chain of changes in terms of institutional developments and restructuring.  Also the Mogadishu based federal government has managed to establish itself in many of its provinces through the state administrations since it was inaugurated as an internationally recognized federal government in August 2012.  With the support from AMISOM forces and the international community, the Somali National Army has managed to regain control of many areas from the outlawed militia group Al-shabaab, known as UGUS by the federal government. Consequently, the federal government got a slightly favorable environment to establish some state governments commonly known as Maamul Gobaleed in Somali and strengthen ties with pre-existing ones.

Under the leadership of his Excellency president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the federal government of Somalia has managed to institute three states (Galmuduug, South West Somalia, Banadir and the under-development and almost ending Hiran/Middle Shabelle state) and strengthened ties with the Jubbaland State that was still progressing during his election in 2012. The formulation, creation and of course the firm-put foundation of these state governments has made people of Somalia feel some sense of statehood around them. At least there is something to call a government now. And with the August 2016 elections nearing speedily, majority of the Somali communities are in a preparatory mood and many are eager to have a full-fledged government.

And this time is going to be elections across six states; I am not sure about Somaliland. Given that the 4.5 power sharing formula has been adapted in the aforementioned states with Puntland adapting it temporarily you can imagine how strong that government will be.

Somalis Felt the Severe Effect of Conflict and National Instability

Another good reason I have to show that Somali is not going to be the same again is about the realization of the need for order and calmness by the various Somali communities. In my childhood or even beyond, although I can’t exactly remember how things used to work, there used to be a form of firm, cohesive and adhered to (by the community members) social leadership in all Somali communities. Under the lead of a Boqor for some and Ugas for others, orders used to flow from up downwards, there used to be a social law in place and resolution of inter-clan disputes was done with ease and efficiency. Neighboring communities lived happily together and there was love and brotherhood between them.

I think this form of social fabric was strongest when Somalia had a central government up to when the civil war started in 1992. There after we noticed social destruction, inter-can clashes, rampant and deadly violence and the list is endless. But there are reliable signs that Somalis have realized the need to reverse back to the origins or what we used to be.  I don’t know if I am the only person seeing this happening, but still that does not matter.  In the past close to ten years, we have being witnessing socio-political movements in numerous Somali communities. Many communities have appointed an Ugas together with his Ugasate.

In NFD in Kenya, nearly every community has one and the same applies to others in Somalia.  This is a good trend, indeed it is what we have been waiting for. And, sincerely, we have already seen the fruits of this initiative; communication and conflict resolution among Somali communities has become easy both in Kenya and in Somalia and thus political co-existence and inter-community dialogue has been alleviated. Isn’t this a credible move towards lasting stability and togetherness for Somalis?

More Focused Support by the International Community

Lastly we have the recognition of the federal government by the international community. Today, after the regrettable down-fall of the late President Siyad Bare’s central government, the sitting government of Somalia spearheaded by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is globally acknowledged. It is not an interim or transitional. It is a formal government with a voice in the United Nation’s assembly of state governments. There are also other signs of the UN agencies acknowledging the ability of the federal government to man chief institutions and soon administration of some sectors like health and education may be handed over to the federal government.

There is something nice that I don’t want to leave out. After the down-fall of the last central government of Somalia, international aid for Somalia was commissioned as humanitarian crisis responses. In fact, in the first ten of the national disaster and when the immigration was at its peak, the international community focused to deliver assistance in form of essential needs; shelter, food and medical help for the affected persons. Although the provided support has done a lot to save lives, the chief cause of the disaster was not addressed accordingly and that’s why humanitarian calamity has been repeating in the country. To overcome this perennial holocaust, as we could see in the recent years, as supplementary efforts, new and reliable measures have been introduced by the international community to move the country towards reconciliation and stability.

The community has refocused its aid towards restructuring institutions of governments. Personally, although I don’t know the exact history, I supposed that from the 31 January 2009 at Kempinski hotel in Djibouti, Somalis got re-directed towards better conditions and a sense of nationhood when Mr. Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Hassan got sworn into power to head the transitional government that delivered into existence the hopeful federal government we have now.  Besides, the increased humanitarian support of the international community for Somalis, we have also witnessed the determination of the same affiliation to support the only unstable East African state stand on its feet.

Leading my argument is the military support from the right neighbors and fellow African states; Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. To defend itself from the numerous terrorist groups operating in the war torn country Somalia National Army got military support from the deployed personnel and they have already managed to liberate many strategic centers from the Alga-eda subsidiary, the anti-stability and anti-statehood organization. Besides the aforementioned support I can’t also leave out the financial as well the logistical and technical support to the AMISOM troops by the European Union, the United Nations and the United States and their allies.

Consequently, relative stability, peace and conspicuous development (both structural and institutional) have been realized in Somalia in the past few years. A number of Somalis have returned to Somalia bringing back capital and technical know-how to re-establish Somalia with a mindset of making it the leading economy in the region. In addition to the available labor and skills of the locals, importation of skilled human labor is doing a lot in re-energizing the country of about ten million with a higher portion still living in the diaspora mainly Kenya. To hit the hammer on the nail, Somalia, though in a slow pace, is regaining its position in the universe as Alex Chamwanda of Citizen TV once said in his news coverage from the second largest African city that there is some glamor of hope as the sound of the gun is being replaced by the sound of the hammer (Citizen TV, September 2013).

The Assurance of the Third (time) or the Third for the Fourth (time)

Summing up this section is a theory I believe is reliable. I call it Assurance of the third or the third for the fourth Time. This is a simple theory and may be many of us have experienced it. In simple terms, I can state it as success, graduation (in varied forms) or perfection mostly comes in the third time of trial for a strongly intended person or the third time will give you the assurance for it coming on the fourth time. It is an important rule of the thumb when it comes to observing calmness or being non-violent, success for determination and right to executing one’s defense. Let me start this with an Islamic teaching that I knew since my childhood. Suppose someone is infringing on your personal safety and right (as a Muslim). If someone confronts for two consecutive times like you are slapped or boxed, it is a good habit to warn them against that in intervals between the first and the second times. What if the same action is repeated for the third time? Then Islam gives the right to defend yourself.  And that’s an example of the assurance of the third.

Secondly, when Prophet Mohamed (S.A.W) got visited by angel Gabriel in the cave of Hira for the start of the revelation, he (S.A.W) could not recite after he was asked to read (by the name of Allah) by the angel for the two times until when he was shaken before the angel left him alone. Thereafter, it became easy for him (S.A.W). During my childhood, I used to hear about it from my mother after getting stuck while memorizing verses of the Quran. She would advise me to try for three times and it would be okay for me either in the third or the fourth time. Personally, I like the third time graduation or the strength and assurance one secures from it for the final needed outcome on the fourth time.

In the arena of politics, most of the famous African politicians (among those I know), is the current president of Nigeria Buhari and the former president of Kenya Mwai Kibaki.  I will use their political paths to power to bring the theory closer to be comprehended. Mwai Kibaki first ran for presidency in 1992 on his Democratic Party which he lost to the second president of Kenya; the dictator, Daniel Moi after becoming third candidate behind Keneth Matiba.

Mwai did not lose his interest and ran again in 1997 when he again lost to the same Moi. I suppose, with a high confidence level, that the subsequent times have enabled him culture his political weapons and agenda and in 2002 under the strong political campaign of Kibaki tosha, he did succeed. Through acquired experience and consecutive trials, he was assured of a win in the third time.

Let’s now talk about the assurance of the third for the fourth. The sitting president of Nigeria also went through a similar political path; ran for presidency in 2003, 2007 and 2011. Successfully, he won in the 2015 November elections from Mr. Goodluck Jonathan.

Basically what I am trying to allude to is the August 2016 general election in Somalia and the transition to the third legitimate president and the second full-fledged government (internationally recognized) are the test points we have.  It is either going to be the assurance of the third or the third for the fourth. What Somalia needs to realize is an operational government that is able to bring Somalis together. We need a government that can overcome internal rivals and stand on its institutions which are well instituted and managed. Regarding the theory we just discussed, I am properly convinced that we will use the assurance of the third for the fourth.

Given that Somalia is far away from the assurance of the third (fully operational government) a third term of a reliable stability as we witnessed in the past two terms will automatically give Somalia the ability to put into office a powerful government in the fourth term; 2020-2024. The litmus paper we have is the August general election. If the August general election goes smoothly and the next government assumes office without dispute it is going to be the assurance of the third for the fourth. The next government, in fact with the continued support of the international community and the nationhood desires of the Somalis, will be able to breed the much awaited government with some form of self-reliance.

Keep it Nepjournal for the final part of this analysis – “What a Stable Somalia Means for North Eastern Kenya” to be published next.

Billow Abdi Hassan is Food Security and Livelihoods Analyst and Researcher with interest in Developmental and Social Research. He is the founder and Executive Director of Center for Research and Prosperity (CentReP) and contributor of Nep Journal.

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