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Is the Mayor of Hargeisa, Mr. Moge, A Political Opportunist or the Savior that Somaliland Needs?

The blind embrace of personality cults and a propensity to swallow heavy dose of empty rhetoric whole has led to the calamity that is President Bihi’s tenure, possibly the worst President since the reestablishment of our Republic. While we won’t dwell on the train wreck that is President Bihi’s place in the history books, the crux of the matter is Somaliland’s public has troubling tendency to fall head over heels for charismatic figures with minimal substance.

The Somaliland public, evidently slow learners in the school of political disappointments, now entertains the absurd notion that Hargeisa’s Mayor, Mr. Abdikarim Ahmed Moge, is the panacea to all their ills. Before we start dancing to the premature tunes of his supposed salvation, let’s examine what Mayor Moge has accomplished so far as the mayor of Hargeisa since his election in 2021.

Credit is due to Mayor Moge for surpassing his predecessor, Mayor SOLTELCO, with notable initiatives like monthly city garbage clean-ups, tree planting, and public roadway rehabilitation, earning praise from Hargeisa residents. His early crackdown on corruption within the local municipality is commendable. However, let’s peel back the charismatic facade and delve deeper.

It’s important to remember that SOLTELCO is an insanely low bar to clear. In fact, Hargeisa would have fared better if it had no mayor at all. He was one of the worst mayors in recent memory, and because the public is so accustomed to horrific leadership, even mediocrity is mistaken for salvation. Mayor Moge has barely moved the needle in making Hargeisa the capital it deserves. He has promised that Hargeisa would rival world capitals and two years on, that seems like a pipe dream.

Mayor Moge has failed a basic litmus test as a true leader, an anti-corruption champion and the reformer he sold to the public as a candidate as he chose to look the other way on the mass-looting of public land and institutionalized corruption put in place by his predecessor that still puts money in SOLTELCO’s pocket at the expense of Hargeisa residents.

Former Mayor SOLTELCO privatized key funding sources—land management and refuse collection—to companies he had personal stakes in. Mayor Moge, two years in, turns a blind eye, allowing SOLTELCO to to continue to bleed Hargeisa dry even when he is no longer the mayor. This makes Mayor Moge another politician who will say anything to get elected and a willing accomplice who will put his political ambition over the public interest without hesitation.

Mayor Moge has proven himself a shrewd politician, although this attribute hardly deserves commendation. His mastery of political expediency is evident in his adeptness at rolling over and playing dead to avoiding confrantation and difficult battles. An example is rebuilding the Waheen Market, a matter falling squarely within his municipal jurisdiction, which was astonishingly, it was effortlessly wrested away from him by the Ministry of Public Works, a move presumably orchestrated to accommodate a lucrative contract awarded to a company from Estwini in less than transparent manner. Strikingly, Mayor Moge remained silent, offering no protest in the face of this blatant corruption.

His conspicuous silence and absence from public view continued in the ongoing surge of public asset sale to private hands, such as the sale of Police Lane land and the forced displacement of residents, predominantly comprising families of current and former police officers, and the basketball playground in Jijiga Yar to make way for a parking lot for the adjacent hotel, further showcases Mayor Moge’s inexplicable disappearance from public scrutiny when confronted with potential negative publicity.

In these instances of questionable dealings involving public land that falls within his jurisdiction, Mayor Moge has perfected the art of vanishing into thin air, leaving the impression that his political acumen is not directed toward championing the public interest but rather towards self-preservation and conveniently avoiding any controversy that might tarnish his image. This pattern of behavior raises serious concerns about his honestly, commitment to transparency, accountability, and, ultimately, the well-being of the constituents he purportedly serves.

Despite Mayor Moge’s ostentatious use of the slogan “it’s your taxes” on billboards, his two-year tenure has been marked by a glaring absence of transparency. Shockingly, not a single report detailing the revenue, expenses, and budget of Hargeisa Municipality has been published under his leadership, mirroring the opacity of his predecessor. Compounding this lack of transparency are allegations that the municipality been heavily borrowing from Somaliland’s Central Bank. Mayor Moge attempted to deny this fact but callously admitted it in the same speech, underscoring a concerning pattern of obfuscation and potential fiscal mismanagement under his watch.

Moreover, Mayor Moge’s about-face on anti-corruption and freedom of speech, coupled with his newfound apathy towards these critical issues, indicates a leader more concerned with self-preservation and appeasing President Bihi’s than the well-being of his constituents and Somaliland in general. His toned-down bravado may suit his role as mayor, but it raises serious doubts about his suitability for the arduous role of leading a nation.

Leading the Republic of Somaliland, an unrecognized country grappling with monumental challenges, is a far cry from overseeing the Hargeisa municipality. Unfortunately, Mayor Moge, shrouded in a record of political expediency and a blatant disregard for transparency and accountability, not only falls catastrophically short as the leader Somaliland needs, but practically serves as the embodiment of everything wrong with Somaliland’s leadership. His current rightful place seems to be nothing more than standing behind President Bihi, smirking and complacently witnessing the central government pillage whatever meager public assets remain.

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