SOMALIA: Somalia Should Declare War on Two Enemies

I used to think that what keeps a rank-and-file officer motivated to behave in a certain way is highly different from what layman’s attitude of thinking toward the world around could dictate. I realized that the idea of civic irresponsibility is grown within societies, and when younger generation is put to work, a mentality of pedestrianism and of recklessness comes into play.

This incident shaped my thinking toward political irresponsibility this week. A man left his 2-year-old child sleeping in a car with the engine running on a cold night for a happy-hour in Montevideo, MN, USA. According to the media report, Christopher Jasperson’s blood alcohol content ran at 0.23 percent. Not only did this father behave insanely by leaving his child in a locked car but endangered other lives on the road as well.

If you examine this incident closely, you will realize that this story resembles Somalia’s status quo. Because when recklessness is created at the bottom it can do more harm at the top. My thesis here is that Somalia’s broken system is not about bad leadership, nor is it about foreign intervention. It is about bad, irresponsible civil service system.

When you have innocent- and tribe-fueled employees in public institutions, personal and group interests are almost always put before the interest of the nation. And when that happens, policies and developmental agendas get stuck because the mainstream channel that is supposed to transport and execute public policies is in incredible dysfunctional.

I am persuaded to believe that even if you put the sharpest minds in the executive branches of the government, this country will never get far until you fix the civil servant issue. Right now, the country is like beautifully laid-out and electronically engineered sports car without fuel. No matter how hard you try to accelerate it, the situation is not going to get any better.

Needless to say, political responsibility starts with recruiting qualified personnel to public institutions. This is so because the current name-carrying bureaucracy won’t change dime in the face of a flat world where assertion and courageous seeking of interests are staged.

We are in dire need of authentic civil service commission. We need civil service apparatus with a capacity, especially the ability to build the nation from the bottom-up. This is the only way to achieving solutions to Somalia’s big problems of the century. Something is very broken in Mogadishu, the nation’s capital.

Instead of depending on clan-propelled force for public labor, the government should build a web of dependable, committed and educated workforce. The values which should govern hiring policies must be publicly defensible. The logic that says Somalia lacks resources to build on is just a myth. The country is tired of back-door hiring practices. The case is even truer when international NGOs contribute the hiring process.

And in so doing, the government should declare war on Somalia’s two prime enemies: tribalism and ignorance. In choosing a civil servant, the government should choose to set aside all personal and tribe morality and strive to find those reasons which best serve the public interest. It should not permit assisted dying, the politics of aid and humanitarian mission in the Horn. Anything short of this will translate into sustaining the status quo. Aside from the embarrassment of possibly defaulting on our nationhood, the country will most likely fade away sooner than later.

The best way to make sure the government is hiring the right people is to put in place a system that talks to the people, rather than having a person talk to prospective employees. What this means is that a system of recruitment in which decency and fair-play overtakes nepotism and favor-oriented moves will minimize corruption and back-door deals. While electronic hiring platforms are impossible in Somalia at this time, a meritocracy-centered system can hugely lessen the impact of wrong hiring.

Maybe the following can be a benchmark for next five or so years. The Ministry of Labor must think outside the box and create an over-the-art system that makes sure the right people with the skills and qualifications take public jobs. In fact, hiring an able workforce cannot be an accidental. A deliberate system of hiring and improved mechanism of workforce selection is necessary. Similarly, the division in the executive branch can never be an excuse for not building responsible institutions. After all, these are political hot waves that come and go. They are not to affect the civil service system.

On top of educational qualifications, there have to be some sort of tests (both psychological physical) that mirrors the personality traits, intellectual ability and the capability of candidates. Like it or not, this is the only to make sure the public workforce is in alignment with the evolving needs and wants of the nation. This is really a basic that should get the government going in the short run. But for the long haul, a complex system of selection is inevitable.

And make no mistake, this can be applied to the military, the police and all forces in uniform, too. If you are going to depend on untutored, undisciplined and misaligned civil service, the suffering and prejudices in this country are regretfully going to stay forever. I hold the view that if you are planning to rule a nation indefinitely, you have to build the foundation for it.

Abdiqani farah is the founder and manager of The Straighter, a research and public relations firm based in Minneapolis, MN.