New Mogadishu mayor hopes to create new momentum

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The new Mogadishu mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman

Mogadishu residents hope that the new mayor can bring the town out of the shadows of corruption and waste no time in getting to work in delivering serious reforms by ensuring corruption-free services delivery, something he said he must work out because time is not on his side.

By Judy Maina, judy.maina@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI –  Somalia’s seaside capital has a new mayor, but he is a familiar face to the city’s 4 million residents.

Abdirahman Omar Osman who had served in the Somali government for over ten years has been there for the city’s post-war transformations, becoming one of first few diaspora returnees who packed up for a trip to a city which until recently has been ranked as the most dangerous city in the world to participate in the first state-rebuilding efforts for the horn of Africa nation which is recovering from decades of a bloody civil war.

It wasn’t an easy time that such a decision which remained an absurd topic for many in his fellow diaspora community could have been taken. But for him it was more of sacrifice for a motherland that could have benefited from his expertise, with the belief that his contribution would have a positive impact for his country’s future than a flight of the imagination.

It was a sacrifice he believed would never go down the drain.

Despite potential security threats, Mr. Osman who considered a range of options to help the Somali government overcome key challenges had proved his critic friends back the UK who warned him against his trip to Somalia wrong, climbing rapidly through the country’s political hierarchy, by becoming one of Somalia’s prominent politicians.

Political analysts see Mr. Osman’s strong political instincts and his non-partisan political views as a reason for his quick rise in Somalia’s complex political scenes where nearly all politicians are deeply entrenched in the traditional party system, cementing his reputation as a trusted and favourite for several former and current Somali leaders.

He’d soon been appointed as the information minister, a position he held twice in recent years during which he had also taken up several important posts including the president’s spokesman and a senior advisor of the prime minister.

THE BIGGER TASK  

Last month. Somali president has appointed Abdirahman Omar Osman as the mayor of the Somali capital, sacking Thabit Abdi who held the position for nearly a year.

Mr. Osman, 45, a Mogadishu native hopes to revive the liveliness of the city he held in his youth, promising to engage all stakeholders, including residents of overlooked neighborhoods, to provide basic services including medical facilities.

Laying out his priorities vision for the city, Mr. Osman who had served as the information minister just before he was appointed the Mogadishu mayor and took the city’s helm in a swearing-in ceremony last week said that his administration would swing into action by being vocal and engaged to the welfare of his city.

“Improving the livelihoods of the city residents, the constructions of roads, sanitation, fighting poverty, building hospitals for IDPs and fighting corruption will be key our key priorities.” he said, promising concrete plans for addressing them and encouraging “spirited discussions on all issues”.

Meanwhile, Osman’s long-held stand and denunciations of corruption over the years that he worked in public offices is viewed by many as a promising way of ensuring tighter control over state resources and funds.

“I am so confident that he’ll be the crusader for transparency and accountability We need to put our history of corruption in the past and clean up our city.” said Ahmed Mohamed, a university lecturer.

Despite the general improvement in the country’s finance system, corruption remains a major challenge which has had a devastating impact on an already weak Somali economy, substantially dependent on foreign aid.

Last month. Somali president has appointed Abdirahman Omar Osman (pictured in the dark blue suit) as the mayor of the Somali capital, sacking Thabit Abdi who held the position for nearly a year.

However, Mogadishu residents hope that the new mayor can bring the town out of the shadows of corruption and waste no time in getting to work in delivering serious reforms by ensuring corruption-free services delivery, something he said he must work out because time is not on his side.

“We shall commit ourselves to being vocal, engaged and collaborative, and to lead with energy and urgency.” he said at his swearing-in ceremony in Mogadishu.

Rolling out his action plan, he said that he’d offer the leadership this pivotal moment demands by making the local government approachable and administration’s operations more transparent to residents.

According to analysts, security challenges, crumbling infrastructure, public confidence and corruption are among the major hurdles that need to be cleared if Somali capital is to achieve meaningful recovery, something the new mayor has to work out to set in motion the paradigm shift that’s needed to change things.

“The idea is to give Somalis a quick taste of a stable livelihoods and a functioning local government. Given his extensive experience about Somalia’s governance, i think he can contribute to the realization of those goals.” said Mohamed Muse, a retired former central bank employee of the new Mogadishu mayor.

(Additional reporting and editing by John Thiongo in Nairobi, Kenya) 

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