Good leadership gets eroded for a variety of reasons. But do we know when and how disgrace and downfall begin? When we hide our lack of faith. When biases and prejudices control our minds. When we hail predators and robber barons as heroes and start to rant and rave after those who are pure and pious.
Leadership is a very tough assignment. It needs maturity and mentality. It needs vision and future-mindedness. It needs integrity and audacity. It helps to have had on-the-job training.
History judges leaders on their handling of the national interests, not on their passions for power and privileges. The credibility of any leader is revealed by what he does for his country and his people specifically when the moment is hard. This credibility depends on the quality of nobility, ideas of dignity, of unself-interestedness, of largeness of spirit and of a rising above spit, faction and greed.
Presidency, the highest post of any nation, will always have unlimited responsibility. It is a profession that is as hard as a rock as anybody might think. It is too intellectual and far rigid in its roles and requirements for the average person. By its essence therefore it requires an extraordinary person with extraordinary skills - a person that can maintain a steady course with the quality of being honest and upright in character. .
That is a unifying skill that almost all Somaliland past presidents did not have and the present one, Siilaanyo does not have. Siilaany’s incapacity to pacify his policies and organize his administration is his most personal weak power house characteristic. What Siilaanyo appeals to is what those before him appealed to – a paranoid strain in Somaliland politics that the past must always control the present.
The problem Somaliland finds itself in is always reminiscent of the past, because whoever becomes a president for the country inherits his predecessor’s awful legacy. Why everyone yearns naively in the past legacies rather than new political patterns, cherishes over undignified politics over the dignified polities and is not concerned about how he could see a nation reshaped and reformed?
As anyone who is lucky enough to be a successful leader understands, the abuse of power and evasion of national responsibility is a road to disgrace and downfall. The better light of the faculty of ruling is built on mutual respect, openness, honesty and a willingness to listen and learn.
Describing how the faculty of listening and learning is important for leaders, Niccolli Machiavelli wrote in his masterpiece novel, the prince, “A prudent man must always follow in the footsteps of the great men and imitate those who have been outstanding. If his prowess fails to compare with theirs, at least it must have an air of greatness. A good man must behave like those archers who, if they are skilful, when the target seems too distant, know the capabilities of their bow and aim a good deal higher than their objective, not in order to shoot so high but so that by aiming high they can hit the target.”
It appears that Somaliland political leaders do not understand these gems of truth too well and never practice them in both their political and personal lives. If they understand and practice to learn and listen, the picture we see these days in Somaliland should have been better than the one we observe today.
It is not important who one is as a leader and which family he hails from. The important thing is who one has become and what one has done for his own country. For the prosperity and progress of any country depend much on how the rulers read their ideas and arrange their ideas and envision the sense of tomorrow. Simple reasons explain
Right thinking leaders look at their time with a measure of suspicion and circumspection. In conditions of widespread poverty and communal strife, they increasingly work on how best they can get these problems licked. They pace their policies and patch the holes and put things together in a way that gives a good start. They think not of how to clean the country’s roads; instead, they pick up a bit of garbage on the road and drop it in a litter bin. They think not on how to feed the country’s millions of hungry children; instead, they help the kid on the corner to get a cup of milk.
Mohamed Mahatir of Malaysia did just this; he thought very small when he rose to the power of his country. From his thinking small came rural micro-credit and Malaysian projects, a powerful instrument of social change, opportunities for Malaysians in Malaysia.
Obviously, nations will not develop unless the leadership at all levels reaches some minimum standard of maturity. The matured leader always picks up a talented team. If there is no talent on the team the leadership chooses, the system does not work well. It is by a collective effort, by bringing together the best minds in the country, by following the reasonable norms of contacts and cooperation that people can preserve their home, can make better and prosperous.
Somaliland is a country that has seen great cruelty and hardship in its time. It has seen the illusion of power and its ignorant organization. The lessons of yesterday have been that illusion was a laggard and blind. With this fact before us, Somaliland needs a leadership that is too wise to understand that the problems of today are sufficiently different and that the attempts to solve them require fresh thinking and remedies that even the most detailed events of the past will not provide.
The dogmas of the past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with challenges, and we must rise with the occasions. The question is the need of this arid time is what?
The need of our time is nothing more than a leadership that is intellectual if we are wise, analytical if we are ambitious, humane if we care enough, considerate if we are kind, honest if we want to live in an honorable life, prudent and pragmatic if we want to beat the problems and the poverty we share. We need a leadership that must think anew, and act anew. The imperative to act wisely and well is just as urgent.
Arrogance, and the illusion to occupy positions and amass wealth through illicit means is not a substitute for having the skills and ideas and talent required to prevent the problems causing pains in the first place. That is something we should be well advised to bear in mind. If we won’t, Somaliland leadership will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted for too long a series of generations in the same worn-out soil. What this means is that Somaliland will always find itself in where “what is leadership” is not the first question from impresario considering an ethic representation.
Remember, any home filter has to be changed regularly to work right and keep from becoming a health hazard in itself. The ability to turn on the tap and take a long, cold drink of clean water is something Somaliland people have not seen for so long. We may have to begin thinking hard about what needs to be done about Siilaanyo and his likes..
By: Jama Falaag (Jeddah/Saudi Arabia).