Over 50 million Birr was plundered from the Pastoral Community Development Project Coordination (PCDP) office’s account. According to our sources, few junior staff from the PCDP are rounded up and investigated for this crime while the head of this department remains unscathed with no accountability measures taken against him so far. The head of this office must be suspended and an investigation on the reported scandal had to be initiated at the earliest possible time before this practice spreads to other regional offices during this sensitive transition period.
In another investigation, authorities arrested this week four directors and two deputy directors from the finance bureau. These men are accused of removing more than 500 million Birr from the finance bureau’s account in a dubious procurement projects during the period the region was in crisis, when Abdi Iley was removed from power and Ahmed Abdi (Ilkacase) was interim president.
When President Mustafa Omar pledged in his inauguration speech in August 2018 to fight “at any cost” the corruption that was slowing down Somali region’s public service delivery institutions and undermining public confidence in the system, the general response from the public was positive and appreciative. There was a sigh of relief and people thought that he is the man who will transform and change the way politics was conducted in Somali Region. But all of that seems to be in vain now as we are discovering new scandals every other day.
For as long as most Somali region locals can remember, incoming heads of state have made similar promises but then did little to actually tackle the cancer of systemic graft.
Meanwhile, the scale of corruption and looting of the regional government’s offices has drastically increased for the past two months as many regional bureau heads and high-ranking department directors worry that they may not return to their current position after the ESPDP elective congress is held; hence, they’re using this transition period as an opportunity to proceed with large scale looting from their respective government departments.
President Mustafa, who had been serving as humanitarian before replacing the infamous Abdi Iley, was widely viewed as an accidental president. He appeared to lack the charisma needed to confront the old-guard’s entrenched interests, particularly the remnant of the ex-Heego who dominate regional offices, ESPDP party apparatus and the nominal legislature, fervently defending the status quo.
Finally, president Mustafa’s decisive response to graft, and how he clamps down the runaway corruption scandals engulfing the highest tiers of the regional offices will be his litmus test and the only in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore integrity to Somali public life and revive citizens waning faith in Somali regional government institutions.