SOMALIA represents everything about failure. It is the epitome of a failed state. Since the exit of General Said Barre’s government 20 years ago – he later died in Nigeria – Somalia has had no central government. Warlords carve out their space and impose their authority.
Among the fairly well known ones are:
· Abdi-nuure Siyad is Ayr, a sub clan of Habargidir of Hawiye.
· General Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdid belongs to the Sa’ad sub clan of Habargidir of Hawiye and is a former police commander, a former aide of General Mohamed Farah Aideed.
· General Abdikarim Gacma-dulle, belongs to Wa’eysle, Abgal clan of Hawiye, and is former militia leader in the northern parts of Mogadishu.
· General Barre Aden Shire (Hirale) is from Marehan, a sub clan of Darod, and is a former defence minister recently released from an Ethiopian detention centre.
·Mohamed Omer Habeeb, a former Mayor of Mogadishu is Abgal, a sub clan of Hawiye.
· Mohamed Qanyare hails from Murunsade, a sub clan of Hawiye, and is currently a lawmaker.
· Mohamoud Sayid Aden from Mareehan is affiliated with a sub clan of the Darod and is a prominent politician from the Gedo region.
· Yusuf Hagar (Daba-geed) belongs to Hawadle, a sub clan of Hawiye, and is a former warlord in Hiran region.
· Yusuf Mohamed Siyad (Indha-Adde) belongs to the Ayr, a sub clan of Habargidir of Hawiye clan. He was promoted to general in the Somali military.
The Shabab, which pledges allegiance to Al Qaeda, drought, pirates, are the regional threats that issue from Somalia. A 10,000-strong African Union force is doing a great job battling Shabab in Mogadishu. Not even the 25,000 American troops in the 1990s did a better job. Shabab are hardly giving up. Younger, newer messianic insurgents resist the AU troops. Casualty figures are heavy.
Somalia’s eight million people are assaulted on all sides. If militants are not attacking them, the uncertainties of famine make life miserable for them. The world sermonises about Somalia and the evils that piracy around its waters represent.
Nigerians do not know that Somalia is around them. We have our small Somalia everywhere and it shows everyday. Unlike Somalia, we have a central government; we have 36 state governments, and 774 local governments. All of them have been functioning at full civil steam in the past 12 years to the deceitful commendation of worshippers of democracy.
Only on Monday, tanker drivers blocked the Lagos-Apapa Expressway for more than four hours. Apapa, with its ports, is central to the survival of Nigeria’s import-based economy. The tanker drivers operate above traffic laws, they are creating Somalia around us, but the authorities do not see the warlords sprouting.
Still on the roads, commercial motor cycle riders make their own laws. They too are warlords, turning our environment into Somalia.
Nobody will punish the warlords who disrupted life on Monday, cost the economy billions in lost opportunities, and reminded businesses that uncertainties of these likes are Nigerian. They vandalised a toying van belonging to the Lagos State government. They generated panic well aware that they are lords. Instead of punishing them, we plead with them.
Weak governments – governments that cannot enforce laws – are primary steps to failed states. The Somalia of Monday will grow if every lawbreaker is treated differently before the law. There are more warlords in Nigeria than the hundreds terrorising Somalia, but we have a choice – stop lawlessness in all its forms or wait until it totally overtakes us.