The most brutalized and terrorized region of Ethiopia is the Somali Regional State (SRS) with its capital Jijiga. The scale of state brutality and oppression against Somalis by successive regimes is indescribable by the imagination of a normal human being.
Then, something unimaginable happened: August 2018, the murderous regime of Abdiileey came to an unabrupt end–unceremoniously removed by the federal government.
Abdiileey, the former tyrant ruled SRS for almost 10 years. His egregious human rights violations and reign of terror were supported, financed, and supervised by the then EPRDF dominated by TPLF.
Prior to Abdiileey’s disgraceful fall, an internal power struggle erupted within EPRDF giving birth to new world order by Ethiopian standard, crowned with a Noble Peace Prize amid ethnic violence and chaos.
It’s in this backdrop that Mustafe Omar came to power in the Somali region. The overwhelming majority of people supported Mustafe as he took the presidency. A fresh wind of freedom blew off the faces of millions of people, sparking debates of what SRS will look like after the ignominious exit of Abdiileey.
Millions of adoring and ecstatic Somalis in Ethiopia hoping for a better future placed their aspirations and dreams on his shoulders; the stakes for the Somali region– to develop the dysfunctional institutions and recover from years of devastating atrocities– were high.
Many hoped the new leader will lead his troops like a commander-in-chief to the battleground and fight the thousands of enemies plaguing the people: poverty, corruption, the rotting basic services, locust, flooding, institutional incompetence, and injustice– with clear strategy and vision.
Sadly, the bitter disappointment of his almost 2-year rule is palpable and is slowly degenerating into political turmoil with increasing intolerance to criticism. The consensus is his administration has utterly failed the expectation of the public.
Mustafe knows he is grossly underperforming. Yet, a mixture of arrogance, incompetence, and complete denial of the situation means he drives on to the cliff, cheered on by cronies, yes men and clan foot soldiers.
Browsing Facebook and indulging in luxury at the expense of serving the poor public has become the greatest sport and entertainment for the corrupt elites leading the Somali region, adding salt to festering public wounds left by years of EPRDF/TPLF abuse.
Under his Laissez-faire leadership style, his regional
bureau heads have established their own clan fiefdoms micromanaging zones, districts, and villages creating their own puppets at every level.
Such detached, reckless leadership that lives in an ideological bottle means decreased productivity and services by state institutions and an unparalleled cocktail of graft, fraud, and corruption.
Equally disappointing is the performance of ONLF and other opposition parties to present a unified voice to shade light on the lack of basic services, the endemic corruption, or the lack of seeking justice for the thousands of survivors struggling to cope with psychological scars and trauma inflicted by Abdiileey and his sponsors.
Mustafa has already wasted a golden opportunity, and he will bitterly regret sooner than later. SRS is relatively peaceful and this is what Musatfe should have used to speed up expanding essential service delivery to rural areas and improving existing basic service infrastructure to increase coverage and access, and holding his administration accountable for any failure to meet set targets.
The whole SRS looks chaotic, deranged place. Everything seems disorganized, unsystematic, and confusing. From the filthy roads and garbage on the streets of Jijiga to how SRS runs its business. Why?
When those leading SRS are confused and disorganized in their heads and thoughts, it’s reflected on the streets of SRS.
Unfortunately, Mustafe is foolishly fixated with TPLF and Abdiilley– as if pointing the finger at TPLF will transform magically into the water, education, or health services to meet the dire needs of his people.
This constant and childish shifting of his own failures to deliver results onto someone else ridiculously exposes holes in his argument.
He lacks the basic skills to connect with ordinary citizens, including the youth in order to find a joint workable, local solutions to SRS’s problems. Instead, he is retreating into a meaningless, lonely ideological battle boxing his own shadows.
What’s the Greatest Problem of the Somali Region?
Basic services; basic services and basic services should be his SLOGAN. Unless Mustafe goes back to the drawing board to address the appalling lack of essential services he will be a ZERO president in a time of golden period. This is a do or die.
Mustafe needs to ask himself few hard questions and seek urgent, honest answers to find durable solutions: why Somali region has lowest immunization coverage; why SRS has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates; why SRS has the lowest school enrollment; why SRS has recurrent measles and frequent cholera outbreaks; why SRS has the poorest WASH indicators.
Ironically, SRS is flooded with V8 Landcruisers despite having the poorest health, WASH, education, and infrastructure indicators in Ethiopia, diverting millions of birr from public services. Why is this so?
That’s the problem you need to tackle with urgency, energy, and political will, Mr. President.
If you can’t FOCUS and change these grim statistics for the better in the shortest time possible, you better find something else.
Otherwise, from a HERO TO ZERO is a befitting description of your legacy; this LOGO may already be hanging on your door.
You reap what you sow. It’s not too late, though.