‘How I Plan to Fix Troubled Somalia’ Mohamed A. Nur
In May this year, a Somali former top diplomat Mohamed Ali Nur, announced his presidential candidacy in the General Election initially scheduled for August 20. All indications are the poll will be pushed back due to general unpreparedness. But as the day near, Political Platform caught up with the Dar es Salaam-based politician-cum-businessman, a favourite in the seven-horse race:
Tell us about yourself – a brief background. Who is Mohamed Ali Nur?
I was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. I am a family man, well established in business and community affairs with over 20 years’ experience in business in both corporate and international trade and a firm believer in job creation and investment in Somalia.
You are a businessman based in Dar es Salaam. Do you believe you have what it takes to bring peace to Somalia?
I have been actively involved in community building and peace making activities since I was a young man. I do believe that a peaceful society is a productive and just society. Over the years I have served the community in different roles and capabilities. I served as the chairman of the Somalia Association of Tanzania, a community-based association whose main objective was to give back and provide free community service to its 25,000 member strong Somali community in Tanzania.
You are contesting the Somali presidency at a time when the country is almost a failed state. What’s your motivation?
My biggest motivation is that I am a Somali. My cultural heritage is from Somalia. I find it unacceptable, the way things are. Somalia currently is a recovering state, but with a lot of potential and an amazing goodwill among its people.
There is potential of its people, there is potential from the vast resources. A lot of problems currently facing Somalia are easily identifiable and they can be easily solved. One of the main problems we face in Somalia today is poor leadership. We have leaders who are unpatriotic and are not committed to solving the problems of the people.
In the recent past, The Federal Republic of Somalia registered poor performance mainly due to mismanagement of resources and rampant corruption within the government as felt by all citizens of Somalia.
This is also as per the report of The United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia & Eritrea pursuant to Security Council resolution 2111 (2013): Somalia.
Given the mandate to lead my country, my government will build on the areas of good governance, justice, economy and social well-being for all Somalia citizens. I am confident that I am the right person to bring peace, unity and prosperity to Somalia. We do have a clear roadmap for the future of Somalia. A Somali nation that is at peace with itself and with its neighbours, a Somali nation that is united and prosperous. This roadmap is achievable, workable and offers us a hope for a united, prosperous Somalia.
The problems of Somalia are not new. Why now?
Somalia has been facing internal problems for the last 25 years. However, we should not wait for a miracle to happen. We need to offer new leadership and act today as it is never too late for change. I encourage all my fellow citizens to join hands and get involved in our vision of change. Peace is the only solution. Somali refugee are scattered all over the continent. Why should our people live scattered all over, looking for hope elsewhere while we can create that hope and peaceful solution in our motherland?
You are talking of failed leadership. It looks like the system does not work there. What is your vision and strategy to make it work?
Somalia’s biggest issue has been that we have had a culture and history of having a strongman at the expense of having strong national institutions. My vision to bring peace and stability in Somalia involves building strong, gender inclusive, and transparent national institutions that will function effectively. Key to these institutions is the resetting of our national security and justice systems. We will rebuild the army – the Somalia National Army and our Somali National Intelligence Agency. We also need to have an independent judiciary which will dispense equity and justice for all.
Do you trust the legal system, specifically the electoral process, that it will be inclusive?
Our electoral and justice systems are still in the infancy stage, which is why I said we need to work to build the judicial system. In order to build a strong, healthy nation, you must have an effective and efficient justice system.
We need a parliament, the executive and judiciary with clear separation of roles and duties. Without it you cannot have a nation. As previously stated, all the past regimes have failed to recognise this important aspect of all-inclusive nation building.
Our roadmap for Somalia, and our vision is clear on these key aspects of nation building. We need to ensure that all people understand and know that Somalia is going to change, it is going to be peaceful, all-inclusive, united and prosperous and open for business.
The biggest problem in Somalia is peace. What is your strategy for peace restoration?
One of the key focal points of our campaign is to bring peace to Somalia. However, you cannot have a peaceful nation of people who are not united, and not prosperous. You can only have a peaceful nation if the youth are educated and employed.
Many of Somalia’s problems are easy to see – and many of the solutions to them are simple, and commonsense. Our strategy is simple but bold – my government will start with the basics of what is wrong in our country. We will put an end to the pervasive corruption that grips our public life, increase investment in infrastructure and public services and above all kick- start a real economy to create new jobs and put an end to the endemic poverty that scars our country.
We will rebuild a strong, modern economy and diversify our economy to maximize on our strength. We know this can be done because Somalis have many advantages, not least our immense natural wealth and the ingenuity and enterprise of our people.
The current government operates in the interest of a tiny few – while failing to provide even basic services or simple personal security for ordinary Somali’s. The weak and confused response to the insurgency has made it clear to any that doubted, that the Somali government does not work.
I believe it is time for a new direction. It is time to restore sanity to our government, time to restore honesty in our politics. We have a new vision for Somalia – of a prosperous, modern country where every citizen can live their life free from fear of poverty and safe in their own homes.
That new vision is based on providing a new government that is willing to both tackle the problems our country faces and seize the opportunities that are available. A new government that will bring a simple solving approach to doing its work not endless excuses. That work will be based on four key points in our roadmap:
Good governance: Good governance, national unity, economic production, development and rebuilding the national economy, and to speed up sustainable economic development through increased direct investment.
Justice: To build a great nation where people respect the rule of law, human rights and justice for social wellbeing.
How are you going to unite more than 100 Somali clans?
The odds are actually in my favour. Those more than 100 clans do share one common heritage and history. The only reason we never have unity is there has been no leadership that preaches unity. And there has been no leadership that is fighting corruption.
Politics of division will never unite a people. We will make sure that our national resources are meant to benefit and educate the people and the resources meant to provide health and services to the people actually go there. Democracy should be for the people by the people and the average Somali should have decent living and benefit from the democratic system.
We have developed a roadmap for development that we believe can be replicated in all communities and areas in the Federal Republic of Somalia. Together we will usher in a new era for the people of the Federal Republic of Somalia. If given the mandate to lead my country in the upcoming general elections, we will immediately usher in our roadmap targeted to grow hand in hand with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets that were agreed globally, and propel us towards our Vision 2030 as a new Somalia that offers hope, development and quality standard of living to everyone in the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Having resources is one thing and distributing them equitably is another? How will your government distribute these resources equitably?
This shall be done through justice. If you have a resource which is not distributed equitably it means there is corruption. We are going to have zero tolerance against corruption.
Resource distribution will not target the top rich but the common man on the street. Our people need decent jobs, employment opportunities, hospitals, schools, safety and security.
Our government will give maximum support to the Somali business community, and we encourage them to invest more in home grown local talent, build factories, and create more jobs and opportunities for the youth.
The Somali community in the diaspora contributes almost $1.5 Billion in remittances annually. This can be significant to the economy of approximately 10 million people. How are you going to tap this capital?
There are about 4 million Somalis worldwide consisting of investors globally who are into manufacturing, real estate, oil and gas & the service industry. There is a huge potential in the diaspora community. Once they see that Somalia is now peaceful and corruption-free we can attract most of them to come and invest in the country.
Our diaspora is a great untapped resource and we need to encourage Somalis in the diaspora and provide them with a safe environment and regulatory and judicial systems for them to expand business and create growth back home.
Based on your campaign, it seems you have great support among the people?
Our campaign has received a lot of support and warm wishes especially from the youth, women, religious leaders and men in Somalia. It is a clear sign that everyone is invested in the future of Somalia and it is a great advantage when people know that you have great ideas to make their lives better.
I have played a key role in conflict resolution in the past and that is why I am coming with fresh ideas that will offer peace and prosperity for Somalia. I have seen what other countries are doing. I have seen the challenges countries such as Rwanda faced during the genocide and I have first-hand information on how they recovered from their problems. We have rich ideas that can motivate and build our nation as we move forward together. I am challenging my fellow Somalis that if we are one community why can’t we be a united people? Something is wrong with the Somali politics. It is not the communities that have the problems; it is the way the country has been managed in the past.
I am in Tanzania where it is a fountain and wellspring of renowned African icons and leaders. Most African leaders have been raised and groomed here for example South Africa’s Nelson Mandela was once based here in Tanzania, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni was raised and educated here in Dar es salaam, Tanzania, both the former and current President of the of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kabila senior and junior have been residents of Dar es salaam, Tanzania. Mozambique’s Samora Machel was also a resident of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The United Republic of Tanzania has always been at the forefront of African unity and has exported leadership and ideas of African unity and togetherness for all Africa. I will definitely not be the first or last leader to come from Dar es Salaam. Tanzania as this country has contributed immensely to Africa and its people. Indeed the whole world should recognise and reflect on its rich contribution to global leadership and national unity building.
Final question: Somalia has recently discovered huge oil and gas deposits on-shore and off-shore. How can the country and Somalis benefit?
We have been blessed with immense natural resources, key among them the recently discovered huge oil estimated to be 120 billion barrels and huge gas deposits both onshore & offshore.
My government will engage in transparent Public Private Partnerships (PPP) with potential investors to develop these resources to generate revenue for our country. Key to these developments is support from international players in the oil & gas industry on how we can speedily start the exploitation of these resources.
Revenues earned from these resources will be a key driver of our diversified economy. We will ensure that local communities on the ground are trained so as to take opportunity of jobs in the oil and gas sector. Revenue will be managed in a transparent manner to ensure equity and fairness to all.
This is in line with our roadmap to the development of the economy – To speed up sustainable economic development through increased direct investment.