A Leader is a dealer in hope: Who can lead Somaliland today?

Most Somalilanders believe that the late president Mohamed Ibrahim Egal was the only president who led the country in the right time. His confidence, competence and political experience saved the nation from the hands of SNM colonels and put it into political strategy with long-term vision. Thanks to his team who served the nation without any regular payment. They served their people voluntarily with the hope of recognition, economic development and prosperity. Their expectations were not based on wishful thinking. Rather it was marked with hard work, persistence, honesty and commitment.

Unfortunately, the two succeeded presidents failed to lead the nation to that predetermined vision or beyond. One simple instance. President Egal transformed the country from traditional system to democratic one. He formulated constitution and put into practice the multi-party system. Economically, he created the central bank and printed out Somaliland Shillings. All these policies were aimed to pass over the old fashioned, tribal based, traditional system and put law and order into effect. Frankly, Rayale and Silanyo administrations took few steps forward as far as few specific issues of the above mentioned policies are concerned. However, it is apparent that tribal-based system is still powerful and effective. You accept this as true when you see that clan leaders are more powerful than government as well as opposition leaders, when you realize that democracy is dominated and ruled out by tribalism, when you comprehend that we have faith in and act on tribalism and still believe that we are democrats, so on and so forth.

After taking all these realities into consideration, we come up with a number of questions to be answered. Are we beating a dead horse? Did we bite off more than we could chew? Are we shooting in the dark? Are we barking up the wrong tree? Is democracy going right over our heads? Are we putting the cart before the horse? What is wrong?

For me, the problem is that we don’t have the right leader. And to move forward we need the right leader. All we need today is a leader who can get rid of tribalism, poverty, bad governance, corruption and other underlying problems.

Who can lead us today?

I am not hereby mentioning a particular person or name, rather I want to highlight the necessary qualities and skills of the desired leader. Firstly and most importantly, the leader should be honest. Results from a November 2014 Pew Research Center Survey showed that 84 percent of the 1,835 respondents considered honesty the most essential personality trait for any leader. A dishonest leader can misguide as well as mislead the whole nation. He will also put self-interests before common interests.

The leader should be visionary. Leadership is all about having a vision of where you want to be and working to achieve that vision. That vision of Somaliland needs to be beyond tribalism and towards democracy, peace and prosperity. In the world of personality evaluation, openness is one of the big fivedimensions of personality that psychologists use to evaluate individuals. It refers to how open an individual is to new experiences and how imaginative and insightful an individual can be. This is necessary as well.

A good leader is confident. In order to lead and set direction a leader needs to appear confident as a person and in the leadership role. We don’t need a person who follows the guidance of clan leaders and fails to achieve his manifesto because of external forces. Decisiveness is another important quality. Good leaders make important decisions based on what is best for the nation-and they make them confidently. Perhaps the most important skill a leader needs is to be able to think strategically.

Along the way to achieving their vision leaders will come upon many problems. Effective problem solving is therefore another key leadership skill. With a positive attitude, problems can become opportunities and learning experiences, and a leader can gain much information from a problem addressed.

What about competence? The key problem facing our politicians currently is incompetence. They are lacking the ability to implement their policies, solve problems and make effective decisions. And most interestingly, they can’t even be on duty for ten consecutive hours.

Other vital qualities that leaders need include creativity, which enables the person to think outside the box, charisma, that quality of ‘brightness’ which makes people want to follow a leader, assertiveness, which enables that person to make his point without aggression, but firmly, and empathy, understanding of how others feel.

In summary, let me clarify my position on current political situation. I believe that none of the presidential candidates demonstrated necessary good leadership qualities. Nevertheless when you have dilemma where you have elect among three predetermined candidates, there is no choice other than electing the best among them. But we have to keep in mind to give a chance to those who can lead us to a better future without considering his clan, party or other minor factors. Eventually I recommend the youth particularly educated group to stop following and supporting candidates with the same clans. We need critical analysis and logical reasoning. Let us think of our future instead of short term interests. Today Somaliland needs an honest, visionary, competent, decisive, confident, creative and charismatic leader.

Muhumed Mohamed Muhumed (Khadar)

Ankara, Turkey