His Excellency the Somaliland Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources, Hussein Abdi Duale, embarked on a solo-awareness campaign ahead of an upcoming seismic oil survey to be conducted by the Chinese BMP firm in the regions of Saraar and Daadmadheedh.
The Minister, a charismatic, western-educated technocrat, has succeeded to talk Genel Energy, DNO and a number of other companies into investing in the extractive sector of oil-rich Somaliland.
He is tireless, creative and pro-active in canvassing for support of his pet-project: drilling for oil in Somaliland in order to project its status to an international pedestal which can no longer be ignored or sidestepped.
His most vivid dream is to make the world sit up and notice an oil-rich Somaliland that even OPEC cannot overlook.
The Minister, however, has proven to be inept and ‘uncultured’ in a number of other fronts.
Minister Duale has no in-depth knowledge of the mechanisms of clan politics and cla structures. More often than not the absence of consideration and/or sensitivity to clans makes him fall on his face in his endeavors. Despite being advised to give clan elders and other notables in areas of interest time to mull offer the ramifications of oil exploration in their pastoral areas, Mr Duale plunges in head-on in what he calls one-day awareness seminars. Even during these meetings, his body language and the entreaties he makes mostly in English are far from convincing, leaving attendants more confused as ever to the real objectives behind the explorations tabled. His appearance and the words he uses do more harm to his cause than anything else.
On the other hand, the Minister always tries to convince people that his drive is purely ‘national’ and there is no conflict of interest implicating him in the matter anywhere. That is not true.
Now and in 2014, the minister granted awareness contracts to his own brother-in-law – a man called Saed Sheekeeye. If the man was an expert in that field, the minister would have succeeded even though the contracts were awarded through nepotism. He is not.In this present awareness campaign, Saeed drafted contracts for media institutions allocating to some sums of money that was not negotiated on beforehand, where he totally ignored others critical to the success of the venture. He, for instance, allotted US$5000 to major television stations such as Horn Cable and Universal TV without consulting them on schedules, scope of work or rates-per-minute beforehand.
The awareness campaign also left out Somali-read websites in both languages.
Another failure of the minister is that he did not plan to pan out the generation of jobs so that income reaches – even if it is uneven – residents in the areas targeted and in adjacent, outlying ones. The Somaliland society, being a predominantly nomadic society, customarily shares meager resources without rancor as is dictated by their age-old, unwritten customary laws.
the combination of these factors have already started a massive opposition to the minster’s latest drive to prepare the ground for the scheduled seismic surveys. According to a story on karinnews website, an undercurrent of strong opposition is mounting in the Saraar areas where the Minister planned to start the surveys on soon.
In Burao, itself, the capital of Togdheer region, unemployed youth in large parts of the region protested against the planned employment of young people that discriminated against them. They said the minister has done more harm than good to a national cause by not spreading out available, employment resources.
Ironically, in both of these regions, the Minister, himself, directly carried out the awareness and negotiation activities with the locals without using the requisite clan diplomacy needed or a massive media campaign that would have broken all barriers by reaching out to all hearts in order for the project to succeed.
By not doing either of the above, Minister Duale put the whole oil extraction venture of the Republic of Somaliland in jeopardy. Instead of coming out a hero, he is now seen as a failure who compromised national interest for personal gain – a situation that he has to blame on himself alone. After all, it will be very hard for Genel and other companies to trust Somaliland with their investment or resources again if the negative tactics of the minister are not reversed soon.
Mr. Duale, in fact, is well into another ‘self-destruct’ course again.
By A Runney, Stuttgart, Germany
The Opinions Expressed In This Article Are Those of the Author and Don’t Necessarily Reflect the Opinions of Somaliland Editorial Board