Past the garbage ridden streets of Bosaso, it is hard to decide who is responsible for Puntland's ills; the oblivious Somali or the 'rulers' who have gone missing. Disregard for human and territorial rights have led the way to disorder and bad blood---to name just one of the many horror stories that need undoing, few, if any, honorable men are nowadays left in LasAnood, and what's left of normal population consists primarily of destitute women and children.
Choosing the right leader is of vital importance, not just for Puntlanders but for Somalis everywhere.
Following our prophet's death, it became incumbent on the companions to appoint a leader that would steer the ummah in the right direction. Although some of the companions preferred Ali, ultimately, due to factors that favored Abu Bakr's leadership, the responsibility of leading the Muslims, fell on Abu Bakr's shoulders. If lineage was the only advantage, Ali would have been the obvious option. He was the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law. However, the majority of the companions selected Abu Bakr, as he was at that point in time the perfect choice.
Umar Bin Al Khattab's address to the companions testifies to the importance of this selection and the care with which it was executed: "I expected that the Holy Prophet would out-live us all, but it was the will of God that after having fulfilled his mission he should return to God. Verily, the Prophet came from God, and to God he has returned. He has left with us the Holy Quran from which we can always receive guidance. And we have in our midst, Abu Bakr, Companion of the Prophet, and the "Second of the two in the Cave", who is undoubtedly the worthiest among us to conduct our affairs. To strengthen his hands and to maintain the integrity of the Muslim community, it is necessary that we should repose our confidence in him and offer him our allegiance. Now come and offer bait (allegiance) to him."
As is apparent from this example, the need for direction and a common goal is a must for every Muslim community. If we are looking for a political climate where justice and logical reasoning are the characteristics of our leaders then we need to have the courage to remove anything that is disruptive to that goal.
Expanding on the virtues of selecting the right person for the right post, Imam Alghazali, in his book, Muslim's Character, quotes a hadith related from Abu Zar, who reported that he once asked the Prophet for a position of governorship whereby the Prophet replied:
'O Abu Zar! You are weak, and this responsibility is a trust. On the Day of Judgment it will be a cause of loss of honor and ignominy. However, those people will be spared who will have accepted it with all its responsibilities and would have fulfilled whatever responsibilities they had in this connection.'
Islam is a code of conduct that places great importance on all aspects of a Muslim's life, nothing of importance is left to chance, every aspect is safeguarded and put in its proper perspective. Man is an honorable creation, his life, honor and dignity are precious and sacred. A genuine leader is one who understands the weighty responsibility of running other people's lives.
A sincere leader is not removed from the needs and aspirations of his people. He is a benevolent servant, not a feared tyrant. He is truthful to Allah and to the people, has zero tolerance for injustice or partisan politicking. And he himself is by no means beyond correction. He consults the people, listens to their voices, and is tolerant of differing opinions.
Moreover, contrary to the 'until-death-do-us-part' syndrome that glues the typical Somali leader to the seat of power, the honest leader is kind and considerate. He knows his limitations and abilities. He knows he is an earthly leader with an expiry date. He is accountable to his people, and should know the consequences of his actions; the earlier an incompetent ruler steps down, the easier it will be on his conscience.
Voters also have an obligation to themselves and their people for they too will be held responsible for the actions of the kind of person they put in power.
Obviously reviving Somalia will take more than the vision of a single man or the desires of any one single clan. To govern this broken land in its entirety, we will need the presence and trust of each and every citizen who calls Somalia his home. Moreover, there will be many mouths to feed, roads to build, wrongs to right. A leader who stands up to serve Somalia at this point in time will have his plate full. This is not the time for emotions or absentmindedness; we must appoint dedicated Somalis who understand what steps are needed to get the country back on its feet.
(c) Safi Abdi