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Clan based system of administration versus renaissance in Ethiopian Somali regional state

By Mohamed Abdidheere - Jijiga, Ethiopia
Tigrai Online, June 21, 2018


For this article I will examine and unmask the clan-based system of governance opted by previous governments and how the region has crossed that line. also I will discuss the renaissance system of administration adopted by the current government and how it help to change the former appearance of the region.  I argue renaissance system of administration best known (dib u curasho) in Somali language is the right decision made by the government and very fit to developing regions.

Clan-based system of administration

Somali people were originally clan based society for a since their existence this system is informal social organization that most human being are life most commonly nomadic-pastoralist societies; because of its social identity that tells who person belongs to clan is sub part of ethnicity, which is the idea give birth to nationality. Its key organizing principle is kinship—initially of blood, and later also of brotherhood.  Its key purpose (or function) is to render a sense of social identity and belonging, thereby strengthening a people’s ability to band and survive.  A society cannot advance far (at least not in developmental terms) with a tribal organization.  The tribal form is particularly limited and inefficient for dealing with problems of rule and administration.

In Somali region of Ethiopia one of the main factor that was consider as a source of backwardness of the region was the clan based system of governance the region have adopted. It is a system that manipulates the head and heartless clan politicians and prevents honest politicians and nationalist from accessing power by any means. Political elites and other government officer are selected by clan identity rather than qualification and merit base. It is not secret that this system of clan based system of administration has deteriorated security, devastated development, violated justice and social interaction.

To cite a concrete example, I can point out factors like corruption and maladministration that reached where even thermometers could not read is the fruits inherited from clan-based system of governance.  Check and balance is not in place. Government officers were very loyal to their clan agenda rather than the common one. Meanwhile members of his clan will be a guard to keep in position.  It was a less opportunity to see a functional administration who is serving to its people equally.

Resource is not benefited equally to the dwellers of the district or the region.  Some of them were concerned as a first class citizenship and higher and powerful positions were reserved to them. Also the rest were considering as a second class citizenship, which do not have a right to lead higher offices.  On the other hand, those who have heavy muscle inside the politics will benefit all resources of the government to his clan. Having this culprit system of governance made the region backwardness and unstable region. It is a widespread believes clan-based system will not defeat anti peace elements rather it requires a concerted effort of Somalis’. Absence of that option eventually invited anti peace elements to make their base inside the region.   A system that can assure quality and justice among people is impossible under the clan based system of administration also nepotism was the only plausible thing.

Misuse of power and other public resources also amplified and augmented grievances among clans and reinforced insecurity and paralyzed development.

There was no a single district that had utilized government’s budget intended for development projects and salary of the district staffs. At that time jijiga commercial bank was the only bank that had been providing service to all districts. Soon after the district collected the money from the bank they will not go far. One of the jijiga hotels is used to rent by the district. There are a number of district staffs who have never seen the district but appeared on the pay time only.  If these ghost staffs got full amount of their salary, it was good, if not happened, they had no problem even they were ready to accept half of it.

Renaissance (dib ucurasho) administration system

Ethiopian Somali region was at a crossroads, and headed towards complete disintegration and the risk of being wiped out of the map of the world by two major forces: clannish politicians whose interest is to fill their bellies and a clan based system of governance. An honest politician and qualified person had no chance to hold a government position because of his clan or identity.

A few individuals agitated by the serious problem of the region caused by the unholy clan based system that we have opted, had launched a campaign to fight tooth and nail to end odds of maladministration, corruption and nepotism.  Among these heroes one was the sitting president of the region Mr. Abdi Mohimud Omar. In 2003 the first regional consultative meeting attended by regional elders, youth and woman took place in Jijiga capital city of Somali region.  A ten days of debating and discussing the serious problems that the region have experienced, both the government and representatives of the people have reached a conclusion of diagnosing the driving force of the long standing problem of the region is the clan based system  of governance that the region had been operating.

After elaborating, the devastating problem of clan based system, Somali region have started to search another means or administrative system to replace the clan system. The government of Somali region and the ruling party counseling with the segments of the community-elders, youth, and woman have agreed to set a new system of governance or administration  that can heal the wounds resulted by clan based system. Renaissance system of administration, best known in Somali language (dib u curasho), become the choice of all. Contrary to clan based system leaders are elected by merit base and qualification also his loyalty to the principles of the ruling party. Based on the renaissance system, it stated, No one will remain and work his place of birth where his/her clan settled. Each and everyone were replaced to another woredas randomly. With in short period of time development achievements was seen by everyone.  Problems of corruption, maladministration, and inequality decreased. Since they do not have close relatives, administrator’s threat people they ruled equally. Districts and government institutions that used clan and tribalism as a faith turned into a public office where no one claims his/her ownership. For the last seven years that Somali region have been practicing renaissance system have registered a tremendous achievements in areas of development, good governance and security improvement.

Social interaction was enhanced. Everyone moved from his/her turf and reached somewhere else where his behavior and character is the key to survive. He/she acquainted new people some may married his new working place which creates a linkage of two communities.

I myself got a golden chance to get out from the traditional box. I had been served as a finance head of Tuli-Guled district where the umbilical cord of this author was buried. At the time of Tuli Guled we were 20 cousins, despite we had different roles, and we did not act as government officers with regard to that we were vanguards of our sub clan agenda.  Most of our time was spent by quarreling to each other rather than setting a single timetable to develop our people. Fortunately enough, due to a policy adopted by the region I moved to Qubi district with same role. It was my first time I thought independently without the influence of clan elders.  I have begun to exercise my knowledge and competency. I learned a lot of knowledge about the culture and socio-economic of that people. If that is not a good friend of mine named FARHAN MOHAMED used to serve as a general manager of FIK WOREDA REVENUE AUTHORITY.  After a short period of time Farhan got promotion as direct general of Ethiopian Somali mass media agency. As soon as Farhan took the official letter of assigning as a director of mass media the first person he called was AMIN and hired as staff of ESTV.  So this is the least one that was benefited the system renaissance (dib u curasho)

To mention a few historical achievements and radical changes that has occurred in the region for the last seven years I can cite a vivid examples.  DDSI have registered impressive steady progress- road construction, building haferdams, airports, bridges and other significant jobs were implemented. Nepotism was eradicated-today graduate students do not face problems of hiring like nepotism. Students simply submit their document to concerned bureau. As writing this piece I watch news from ESTV covering 454 students that have hired on 20 June, 2018 by a system of taking a drop from a junk. Somali region embarked a new hiring system which applicants took a dropped letter.  Your luck will determine with whom office or district you are working. Also the wrong ideology of recognizing a group of people as a second class citizenship was ended. Today those who were considering yesterday as a second class citizenship are leading power full institutions. All of the People of the region are Utilizing resources irrespective of their clan and race. Anti-peace elements were defeated by the Somali people, and the region is as safe as other regions of the world. Corruption has been reducing for the last seven years.


The last one is the finance system of the region. It is clear as day light the improvement of finance made by the regional finance bureau. Today microfinance institution is working every district. Regional finance bureau sent district budget through microfinance which is open in all the district of the region. Ghost workers are not in place at this moment, so this it stands watershed.

The miracle and success stories of DDSI did come by nepotism and corruption but irreplaceable brothers and sisters have sacrificed their blood. Good governance and a way of welcoming and respecting the rights of everyone is main force behind the success of the DDSI.

My argument would be worthless if fail to mention the architect behind the miracle. A decency leader with conviction can turn a hell place into paradise place. The great leader who made our dream true is none but only the incumbent president ABDI MOHOMUD OMAR.



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