Fadumo Dayib: Economic development, Security, Truth and Reconciliation define my presidency

In the first of our series on the road to Elections 2016 in Somalia, Goobjoog News engages presidential candidate Fadumo Dayib on her development pillars, her thinking on Somali politics and what she has in store if elected president.

We delved into economic recovery, security, foreign policy, electoral model for 2016 polls, challenges in her quest for presidency and way forward.

GN: Your entry to the Somali political scene inspires a sense of change in the Somali political narrative. What are your key development pillars for Somalia to effect this change?

My key development pillars are security, which is the first development pillar and the second is economic development. The foundation for these pillars is peace and reconciliation. Without this we can have neither security nor economic development.

There’s no way Somalia can develop as a country until and unless it addresses the root courses of underdevelopment. It boils down to issues that emanate from peace and reconciliation. Bad governance, insecurity, poverty, inept leadership, injustice, inequity and inequality are widely rampant. We have witnessed and even at times abated the ostracization, marginalization and violation of vulnerable clans.  These clans have been effectively cleansed off their lands, their women raped and their properties stolen. We have to atone for every mistake, we cannot live in denial

GN: Somali government largely depends on foreign funding to support virtually all its functions. How do you intend to reverse this trend to create a more sustainable and less dependent economy?

If you look at the remittances from Diaspora, it is in the amount of $1.5 billion annually. This is triple the foreign aid we get. That tells you, maybe the information we are giving about the potential that Somalis have is a bit biased towards why we should continue having foreign funding for the country.

My solution to reversing this heavy aid dependency is to redistribute our funds. We have to live within our means. Even if the current administration relies on foreign funding, we need to ensure it uses the resources it has in a prudent and sensible manner.

We need to not only collect revenue from the ports and airports but also tax. For example in just the port of Mogadishu alone, according to reports published two years ago, the port received $60m annually. Of that 35% is given to a Turkish firm for maintaining the port and the rest goes to government. With that alone we should actually fund our national army if we are really very serious about tackling insecurity.

We have a booming private sector which we need to tax if we need to be economically independent. But in this current climate the private sector would not want to be taxed because they believe the money goes to corrupt politicians’ pocket.

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Our industries and factories should be running, our livestock and agriculture sectors which are doing a good job should be strengthened even better. I will seek to create jobs so that the almost 75% of the Somali population which is under the age of 30 and of which 67% is unemployed have jobs to ensure the economy is up and running and they can contribute productively, not just as tax payers but also productive citizens in all spheres of our society. The Somali youth will be the demographic dividend that will put Somalia back on the world market.

Our oil and gas reserves will be exploited to build the country. Somalia sits on abundant natural resources, a burgeoning youth dividend and so doesn’t need aid. But unfortunately because of corruption, inept leadership and bad governance, this why we wholly rely on foreign funding because it doesn’t come with accountability, it enables people to steal so nobody is held accountable.

GN: Four years is a short time as you have alluded to before. What is your strategy to establish a secure Somalia?

Often times when we talk about security we allude to the fact that we need arms. I would like to address this very flimsy excuse used to justify insecurity in Somalia. This arms embargo issue should not be used as an excuse. On the contrary, if you look at the Security Council Resolution 1744, it allows the import of some weapons and military equipment for the purpose of supporting our security sector. We should also make sure our national heroes in the security sector are treated with dignity. They should be paid well, on time, trained and retained. Their families should be cared for and given all the perks accorded to national heroes.

Another way to tackle insecurity is to sit down and negotiate with Al-Shabaab. To invite Al-Shabaab on the table provided they stop killing, provided they renounce their affiliation to international terrorism. If they can meet these conditions, they can come to the negotiation table.

I am not diplomatic like many Somali politicians who regale Somalis with semantics and poetry; bewitching them with empty words. No, they will always find the truth, integrity and conviction in everything I say and do.

This is imperative because we can see that force hasn’t worked all these years. If they refuse to meet our requirements then we shall deal with them militarily. To do this requires a strong national security sector consisting of the Somali army, functional police and robust intelligence sector.

And as long as we don’t negotiate with Al-Shabab, other elements will continue to use them as an excuse to instigate trouble in the country. Currently what is happening is that even political and business motivated assassinations are all attributed to Al-Shabaab. So you have other elements hiding under Al-Shabaab and once you start negotiating with these people some of these other elements will be exposed then, leaving us to separately deal with them.

Another way of securing Somalia is to have our forces integrated. We cannot have some forces in Central Somalia, others in Puntland, others in Jubbaland, scattered everywhere. In Somalia, we should have one Somali National Army and one Police.

I do think even if four years is a short time there are structures you can work with and strengthen. If you have the vision, capacity and competence as I believe I have, a lot can be achieved in four years.

GN: AMISOM is set to exit next year. With your coming into office do you think we can safely let go AMISOM?

No, I am saying that while we are building our national security sector, AMISOM will also be doing a safe drawback. This must be done in a phased manner whereby they are handing over responsibilities gradually while exiting.

Amisom has done to the best of their abilities the much they can do. But I believe that no country can be independent and sovereign while it has foreigners running its security sector. It is vital if we are to have a stable and secure Somalia that our national security sector is at the forefront and is the entity protecting Somalia. That is the hallmark of an independent and sovereign country.

GN: Some people see you as someone with a privileged position (despite your humble and difficult background) bent on just making history as the first presidential candidate (at least in recent history) against odds. How do you convince this people your decision is real and devoid of self interests?

The people, who think like this, although they are a small minority, have every right to their opinions because they are used to seeing corrupt politicians and corrupt candidates. It is hard for them to fathom my existence.

By the way, this is what applies to anyone who wants to bring change to our country. There are certain groups that fear genuine change, that fear for their livelihood, that find fault with everyone and everything if it isn’t by them or their clan members. All I can do is to reassure them that change is inevitable. My arrival ushers in meritocracy and that is what this privileged minority fears.

I came from humble beginnings and had to fight for everything that I have achieved in life. It is because of my humble beginnings that I am taking this bold step. Everything I have done, I have because I believe I am a servant. I am here to serve humanity. I am joining Somali politics because I actually have the skills, the capacity, the capability, the vision, the integrity, humanity to do the job. I believe I can do a better job than what we currently see. That’s why I am putting myself forward as an option, an alternative.

GN: It’s no doubt the hurdles on your way are humongous and some life threatening. How do you intend to face this and keep your campaign focused?

No doubts hurdles are there. It is no coincidence that am facing the same challenges in Somalia that Hillary Clinton is facing in the US. These are global challenges every woman who is running for public office or who stands up for her rights or to bring social change faces. This comes with being a woman.

I will not back down and that’s how I deal with it. No one will threaten me and expect me to crumble and stop right there. On the contrary, the more people threaten me and the more they tell me this is impossible, the more determination and focused I become. It doesn’t lessen my conviction but instead amplifies.

I announced my campaign in 2014 and I have stood by everything I have said or promised. I am not a politician; I am not going to lie to people. I am not diplomatic like many Somali politicians who regale Somalis with semantics and poetry; bewitching them with empty words. No, they will always find the truth, integrity and conviction in everything I say and do.

I said when I declared my candidacy that I am running because we are having universal elections. And I said explicitly if we do not have one person one vote democracy elections, I will not run because getting into office through corrupt means is not my ultimate goal.

Because I have said right from the beginning I am not interested in maintaining a structure that is oppressive, that subjugates the majority of the Somalia, I detest this apartheid system and I am going to fight it for as long as I live.

GN: But the government declared 4.5 as the electoral model for electing the Lower House which with the Upper House will elect the president. Are you saying therefore you are dropping your bid?

Still this has not been clarified that is why you don’t see any movement in government. They haven’t had the final say. They are yet to come back to this. But we are all pragmatic enough and we can see where we are heading to.

One man one vote is not viable now just as it has not been for almost a year now. And this is what the international community has been funding. The International community assisted Somalia to come up with Vision 2016. It had clear milestones and goals but the international community has been funding this inept, incompetent government despite their inability to fulfill vision 2016. The International community has been sitting there, watching while this government did not meet its objectives because all they care about is ticking the boxes, about furthering their careers.

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In the real world, when someone is hired and they are given deliverables which they do not meet, they are fired. In Somalia the international community rewards this incompetency, they continue to encourage it and allow it to function without holding it accountable.

That is why you have an administration which has failed miserably in the past four years, and which will go down in history as the most inept administration ever, having the audacity to run for elections again in 2016. In the real world you will be fired but in Somalia you have the gall to run for office again and added by the taxes collected from Western countries as foreign aid to Somalia.

Therefore I am not running in the 4.5 clan apartheid election system.

GN: On foreign policy front, Somalia has had a difficult history with Ethiopia and relations with Kenya have been somewhat sour in recent years. How do you plan to address this issue even as Somalia aspires to join the East African Community?

It is interesting you should raise the issue of the East African Community.  The EAC has, I believe conditions that it has made in order for countries to join it. South Sudan which hasn’t met some of these conditions is a member.  So I wouldn’t see Somalia having a problem joining the EAC. But do you think Somalia and South Sudan can be functional in the EAC?

Coming to the relations between Somalia and its neighbours Kenya and Ethiopia, I see a lot of African countries with similar difficult relations but who have overcome them and who coexist side by side peacefully. I don’t see why Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia couldn’t do the same.

But if we are going to have friendly relations then I think Ethiopia and Kenya will also need to respect the sovereignty and independence of Somalia. They have to respect its territorial integrity. No doubt Ethiopia and Kenya feel threatened because of the insecurity inside Somalia. That is understandable; it is insecurity that spills over sometimes to neighbouring countries and that threatens regional security. I do understand where they are coming from because they need to tackle this insecurity so that it doesn’t destabilise their countries. But there are ways, proper and considerate ways of going about doing that.

On foreign policy I believe in having very good, cordial relations with neighbouring countries provided it is one that is respectful; that respects Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. So if I came into office, I would work very closely with these two neighbouring countries and the EA community to come to the common understanding that we have a common enemy and the common enemy are people against progress that cause insecurity. We should work collectively towards ensuring that there is regional stability through mutually reciprocal cordial relations.

GN: Since your announcement for presidency sometime 2014 you’ve hit global headlines but haven’t seriously made inroads into Somalia. Do you intend to set base in Somalia to launch intensive campaigns?

No one campaigns inside Somalia. With the 4.5 system, we are not talking about conventional campaigning as is the norm globally. Crudely put, all you need to do is meet with ten to 15 clan elders and stuff their mouths with cash. That is why I was alluding to the fact we need to use our clan elders in a meaningful manner. We need to give them the dignity they deserve and make sure they do things they are actually good at such as reconciling warring sides. We should not demean them to just a gaping mouth that is stashed with cash. This is how we are tarnishing the image of our elders. Most of them are nationalistic and have been working tirelessly to make sure peace is attained. Unfortunately a few corrupt elders involved in the corrupt 4.5 system have tarnished the whole image of our grandfathers and great grandfathers.

So even if I did all these expensive campaigns inside Somalia, our citizens would not have a say in who gets into office. This is the sad reality inside the country and that’s why I fight against 4.5 system. I want people to have the choice to be able to choose who leads them even if it isn’t going to be me. Had this been the case, I would be in the country campaigning and meeting my constituents.

For now, I will campaign where it matters. That is at the international level to try and cut that funding, that lifeline of this corrupt system, so that we can salvage what is left of our country and dignity.

GN: You detest 4.5 but remain passionate about change. Don’t you think you should join the system and work on reforming it from within rather than from outside?

If you look at the 4.5 clan structure, it is structure which is incompetent, corrupt and inept; it is a bloody structure. If you come in into such a structure do you think you can effect that change? Can one person change it? You will eventually end up being co-opted. I thought about this and it has been a moral and ethical dilemma. I came to Mogadishu early this year to get some guidance on this issue. If I join this 4.5 structure it would change who I am. That is why I decided I am not going into this structure in the hope I am going to make a change and then leave myself in it and end being the same way this structure is. I choose to stay true to myself.

GN: Finally, do you think Somalia would have done with a strong unitary system as opposed to federalism which critics say is creating strong regional administrations and a weak centre?

If we do not come together, the country will be balkanised further along clan lines. We cannot have 18 independent states inside Somalia. This is clan balkanisation. This is not federalism. There is one Somalia, one national flag. I support the decentralization of administrative, political and fiscal functions to the region under a centralized system. I support something akin to the federal model used in Switzerland whereby the presidency is rotational. This way, resources are distributed equitably. You will also have regions intermingling, and we’ll have diversity, clans living together as before.

 

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