Abdi Mohamud Omar came to the presidency of the Somali region on mid-2010. Starting from those early days of his administration, he has been the most consequential Somali Regional State President of all time.
He has put on an undeniable mark on every aspect of the region’s political, social and economic aspects. He is such a domineering feature on the region’s politics not to mention the leadership charisma and political courage he has shown over the years. When I see this and coupled with his endless ambition and enthusiasm I sometimes wonder what drives the man so much that he is so invincible.
To go through some of the most important legacy defining political undertakings, a little context will all be but a justice to the man and his accomplishments.
The Somali Region has been in turmoil in terms of peace and security for the better part of the two and half decades since the inception of the new modern Ethiopia. On top of that, political dogfights by the region’s political leaders have been the hallmark of the region’s political scene leading all the way to beginnings of this administration.
Then put the Liyou Police and Abdi Mohamud Omar to the political mix; and a new era has ushered. The Liyou Police has more or less secured the peace, stability and tranquility of the region while President Abdi Mohamud Omar has silenced the political gunfights. To that aspect he has also earned the admiration of every rational observer who has a keen interest in understandings of the inner workings of the politics of the region.
The other thing that he will be remembered forever is that he was the first to understand the power of media and public relations. He masterminded an intensive media campaign to uplift and change the narrative of the region from a worn torn, backward to a model of governance and symbol federalist democracy.
He was also the one who spent a significant political capital on the early days of his nascent administration to ensure the decentralization of governance much closer to the people they are supposed to serve than ever it was. The creation of new Woredas, City Administrations and Zonal administration and the landmark reshuffle, dubbed ‘Dib-Ucurasho’ or Renaissance, were vital to ensuring the security, development and the good governance the region has been longing forever.
It was on the premise that the service delivery, development activities and civil engagement will astronomically increase when, say, a new City Administration is established. This is only possible because of the availability of this government entity closer to the people. To that credit, there are some vindications already that this initiative has an already evident impact on security; services and the daily lives of ordinary citizens.
It is a well document fact by now that every president that preceded him was busy on centralizing power and fighting their political detractors while enriching themselves in the process. In a stark contrast, President Abdi was the first, I can say, to align his political survival and agility to that of a progress in the Somali Region. To that end he helped create a narrative in which people of all background, domestic or diaspora should play their role in the quest for prosperity and advancement of the region.
It is was a very simple but also a complex and powerful philosophy that if we do good enough work to satisfy and address the need of the people; then people will reward their loyalty and trust back to the government.
Above all he is also the one who has masterminded the political stability for more than six years now__ the longest serving regional president. That is a remarkable individual achievement by itself. Every president who has preceded him was busy on surviving on the top. The region’s political scene looked more like you are watching the grand finale of Game of Thrones than a leadership who was entrusted on the lives of millions of people.
It’s no brainer that if you are always busy fighting an endless political fights that are only intended to survive rather than to marshal political muscle needed for development and all the good things a government should do for its people, then you will be more or less end up being a loser. It’s just a matter of time.
On the contrary, as has shown by President Abdi, if you have political stability over extended period of time; then your energy, time, enthusiasm and your spirit will all be directed to developmental activities that are really needed to lift masses of Somali people from abject poverty, backwardness and indignity.
In light of all these legacy-defining acts, he deserves a tremendous credit for not only establishing and ensuring peace, stability and tranquility but also for promoting decentralization, prioritizing public relations and public diplomacy. More importantly, he single handedly deserve to be uploaded for the political stability that has prevailed in the Somali Region of Ethiopia.
With that long peace of mind, of not worrying who is the next president? Who is in charge? Who is fighting who? Who is detracting who? Then, we can all focus on important work in front of us, which is transforming the Somali Region of Ethiopia to that of a model regional government that prioritizes the lives, the need and the progress of its people.
Editor’s Note; Mohamed Olad is a Somali Commentator and Writer whose works have appeared on different media publications. He was a former Academic Staff and Faculty Fellow at Jig-Jiga University. Now he as an entrepreneur based in the the United States.