In this interview, Alleastafrica talks to one of the leading Somali presidential candidates Abdullahi Ali Ahmed, known as Addow Ali Gees on his plans for Somalia if he’s elected as the president of Somalia.
Alleastafrica: You’re among over two dozen candidates running for the presidency, so what’s your key purpose in vying for the country’s top seat and do you believe you can help turnaround the situation for the better?
Gees: My key purpose is to protect our country and her future. Today, we face many challenges including threats from Al-Shabab. We also have corruption problems and high unemployment rate, that are pressing challenges to our country and people but with a dedication and hard work, we shall overcome them.
My administration is to be a corruption free, that would grow to be a nation of opportunities of stunning minds, and of course, a key priority is to defeat Al-shabab. We want build ties with other countries and partners to face this menace in a collective manner. With a good vision and commitment, I strongly believe we can make a positive difference and contribute to the welfare of our people within a short time. A key part of our work will be sincere reconciliation and political stability.
Alleastafrica: You have recently been elected as a lawmaker for the second time that you are in the parliament, but it’s worth mentioning that you are also a very successful businessman who has given much attention to the politics and always states that country needs a change, especially in the previous government. So how come you are interested in this country’s top seat now?
Gees: I think my people deserve a positive contribution by a frank leadership, so I thought this is the right time to move to help them and take my role. The Somali people led by the legislative body must make a fundamental decision and take this nation towards a new direction. Do we continue the 27-year chaos and call for of good government, or do we fight for a new beginning that gives every citizen of this country, security, education, economic agenda that creates jobs, protects the environment and provides healthcare for all? Are we prepared to take on Al-Shabab and political power that is not taking this country anywhere, or do we continue to elect same on same regimes and put this country on the hands of political oligarchy? These are the most important questions of our time, and how we answer them will determine the future of our country. At this critical time in Somali history and overcoming challenges from the current political structure of the country is why I put aside my business and personal life to run for President and why I strongly consider it is so important that we the people of Somalia win.
Alleastafrica: Your political motto says country first, why and what do you mean?
Gees: This is our movement. Somalia needs a game changer. We are the people and we have to join hands to move this country forward. We don’t have to wait longer than this only to bring sham leadership aboard. We don’t have to repeat that mistake. Together we can reclaim our country and there’s nothing we cannot achieve collectively.
Alleastafrica: If elected what will be your key priorities be, so please put it in plain words so that our audience can get a better picture of you.
Gees: If I am elected as president, my government will put emphasis on (A) National security (B)Social-Economic Development (C) Justice System (E) Education and Health (D) Completion of the Constitution and Democratization.
Alleastafrica: Under your leadership, what do you want Somalia be like? Of course, you are aware that this is a long chaotic and somehow polarized nation. How would you fix it?
Gees: My government’s greatest responsibility will be protecting the Somali people. It is essential, sustainable security for any steps that we need to take as a nation, it is fact today, and insecurity and terrorism are threatening to our territorial integrity and state sovereignty. Terrorism is today’s challenge for every nation on the globe particularly in Somalia. It’s creating a hub for global terrorism strong hold; therefore, we need to empower our security forces to eliminate Al-shabab terrorist group. On the other hand, we need to de-radicalize our youth through consistent job creation, social and religious activities aimed at preventing and confronting them ideologically. In my watch, I will make sure our armed forces and security officers get paid on time, this will not only make their job attractive and effective, but it will also increase their moral and their reliability.
Alleastafrica: What would your security arrangements be like? The security threats are so immense and little has since been done to bring a tangible change into Somalia – so how would you go about the security issue?
Gees: I have necessary steps to take, A) Quick capacity building of our security forces and providing them necessary tools which will enable them to protect our people and save-guide our country. B, empowering our law enforcements to take the necessary measures to prevent terror attacks, and fight organized crimes throughout the country, C, creating sustainable long-term counter terrorism and de-radicalization strategies that will eliminate terrorism as whole. D, implementing de-radicalization programs which the Islamic scholars, local imams’ clan elders lead the fight against extremism ideologies and their distorted views of Islam. This strategy will broaden access to media to empower local imams to allow young people to express their views. E, giving full respects the human right principles and protect child soldering. F, Creating jobs and educational programs for our young people in order to mitigate the economic grievances that terrorists exploit. H, Welcoming and support those who denounce terrorism and violence to re-integrate them into the society.
Alleastafrica: Again, I want to ask: Somalia has been facing protracted security threats and chaos for over two decades, so what’s your plan for the security and antiterrorism efforts?
Gees: There’s a comprehensive security plan in place that we shall put into practice once we take charge of the country’s leadership. But in the meantime, a collective effort and inclusive security plan is important for us. Therefore, my administration will have many fronts including religious experts who can invalidate extreme and violent view of Islam, through cultural and public education, will also create a mindset favorable to correct interpretation of Islam and Sharia, with the help of our international expert to prevent our vulnerable young people from embracing international terrorism and joining Al-Shabab.
Security sector policy overlap in Somalia is the most dangerous security breaches in the coming future and now; in my first day in office, I will direct my cabinet to come up clear security architecture and policies which details roles and responsibilities of all security sectors and national Security Council. We will focus on a series of interior threats that the country confronts, security policies and strategies will be adopted to address them, and their limitations and prospects. It is unacceptable Somalia become safe haven for international terror and peace in Somalia means a lot to the neighboring countries and international partners. I believe what happens in Somalia will affect other nations and as a leader I have to take this responsibility very seriously. My priority is a well-governed security sector, which comprises the civil, political and security institutions responsible for protecting the state and the Somali people within.
Alleastafrica: A significant number of young people in Somalia are unemployed, forcing them to flee the country and take perilous journeys in deserts and sea to reach Europe, so is there any plan your government would implement to tackle the rampant unemployment rate in Somalia?
Gees: There is direct coherence link between poverty and violence. Therefore; I will build the infrastructure through public private partnership and open local and international investors to invest Somalia, this will enable as the improvement of roads, ports, airports, clean water supplies, schools, hospitals which will make easy government service delivery in rural areas. I will create a space that small business’ to operate by removing all unnecessary license barriers, and outdated regulatory environment. I will strengthen the core economic institutions and diversify the economy to become less reliant on aid. I will encourage our citizens and business owners to pay taxation. Agro-pastoral is the backbone of our society and I will give the care they need and do a market research to our domestic product. I will promote a regional economic integration and attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to help achieve economic growth.
Alleastafrica: What about the education sector? This sector remains vibrant but so fragile and messed up as result of lack of state regulations, so how would you help reorganize it?
Gees: Our education record is incriminating as only less than half of primary school age children and haven’t access to any kind of educational service, in addition to that only about a third of girls have access to those services. I will commit to remove these barriers and prepare better future for our children by creating an effective educational which is accessible to every child. In order to achieve that we will create an educational system that promotes equality, inclusion and social harmony in its national curriculum. My administration will promote both public and private educational sectors. Such system should also aim to improve employability of graduates.
Alleastafrica: Somalia’s healthcare system is largely private and lacks regulations, so do you think you’ll be able to provide a national health system that’d aim to provide universal basic healthcare to all citizens?
Gees: Somali Health Sector needs complete revival. Therefore, I will commission an expert team to come up with the best affordable health system for all. Our people require medical care that is reliable and affordable. My team will work to form a health system to improve not only access to basic healthcare, but the quality of care itself. I will order my first day in office to improve the capacity and quality of health services which provides to all citizens.
We have collective responsibility to rebuild our National Health Service system and I believe we can do that because we did it before we use to have universal healthcare for every citizen.
Alleastafrica: There are always issues in the justice system in Africa, so what is your plan for the Somalia case?
Gees: One of the most insecurity contributors in Somalia is lack of justice system. We must build a justice system which is workable, independent and free of interference from our politicians. The independence of the judiciary system needs democratic system that allows checks and balances. It is important that our citizens believe in our justice system, and that our judges and jurists have the confidence of the people. It is equally important that such system is able to hold the government and corporations accountable for their actions.
Alleastafrica: On the democracy, explain what kind of democracy system you’d want to see in Somalia?
Gees: Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect his or her life and should not be subject to the will of another. Therefore, I will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them.
I will also work to create political organizations which expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision making process. I will have legitimate institutions with consent our people, and it is a necessary condition for the legitimacy of political authority, I will seek our people’s recognition and acceptance of the validity of our entire political system, it will be our political obligation to pursue the permission to govern from people, through democratic representation by people themselves.
Alleastafrica: Which kind of steps would you take in your first year as a president?
Gees: Yes first step is completion of the constitution, making Electoral laws, forming political parties, making sure we reach one person one vote in 2020, introducing and implementing democratic principles through cultural norm and educational activities, giving women equal participation in the political arena.
Alleastafrica: Finally what is your message to your fellow MPs since they are the ones who will have to decide who’ll become your country’s president?
Gees: I request them to reject cynicism and reject fear by liberating our country from Al-Shabab. Let us rebuild this great country, and to summon what is best in us; giving me a vote as the next President of Somalia, and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great Nation.
Alleastafrica: Thank you very much for your time and interview, Mr. Gees.
Gees: You’re welcome. My pleasure.
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