Not yet clear if SOLJA would challenge the government on the damning revelation it sprung on the media or remain silent
For the first time on record, the government of Somaliland revealed that it has a list of more than thirty Somaliland-born journalists on Villa Somalia pay working throughout the country but mostly in Hargeisa, the capital of the Republic of Somaliland.
Both Mohamed Kahin Ahmed and Suleiman Yussuf Ali Koore, ministers for Interior and Information, respectively, unveiled a list which had been kept under wraps until now.
“I have a list of TV and other media outlets reporters in the pay of Somalia,” Kahin stated holding aloft an official-looking A4-size paper. “Until now no government official has disclosed this to you. That is because we preferred to deal with it not as a criminal act,” he added.
Minister Koore added that all the details of why and how Mogadishu was paying the reporters was in their hands.
“Payment comes from the office of the Somalia Deputy Prime Minister. We have not acted on it out of deference for the young, gullible reporters in the report in order to give them time to correct their ways,” he said.
“We know how much of the Somalia budget goes to Somaliland budget. Among the list in the report are well-known media figures working with TV stations, newspapers, websites and on social media and yet,” he said, “we did not take commensurate action”.
And this disclosure happens in the presence of the police commissioner. In matters if this enormity, only a court of law should have convicted or absolved said reporters of the grave charges directed against them.
The two ministers and the Chief Commander of the Somaliland Police forces, General Mohamed Adan Sanqadhi, attended, Saturday, the opening ceremony of a training held for 50 media practitioners on ‘role of media on peace and national stability’.
Mogadishu’s ‘Somaliland sabotage budget’ has never been a well-kept secret at Villa Somalia since President Farmaajo, PM Khairre and his Somaliland-born deputy, Mahdi Guled, have taken the helm of the Somaliland Federal Government in 2017.
Immediately after takeover, a programme called ‘Somalia societal Integration Program’ was devised which aimed, primarily, to find support for Villa Somalia’s Greater Somalia drive within Somaliland society segments. It started with what many called ‘The Farmaajo-100’ which targeted young media practitioners starting with social media ‘journalists’.
The Program, soon enough, spread its wings to cover traditional leaders, university lecturers, ‘teashop stool political fighters’, business people and, even members of political parties. The program – in part – succeeded to demystify culpability of Somaliland-born citizens travelling to and fro Mogadishu or ‘finding work’ there. It succeeded to lobby for arrested individuals and to question the very basis of Somaliland sovereignty, unity and stability.
The program, taking heart from its ‘successes’, metamorphosed at end of 2019 to a full-blown department with offices, agenda, personnel and budget which came under the direct supervision of the Deputy Prime Minister – former Hargeisa University lecturer and legal advisor to the Somaliland National Electoral Commission.
“Office to Link ‘Northern’ Youth to Federal Somalia” was openly inaugurated in December 2019 in Mogadishu. To encourage the flight of more and more youth, the educated, playwrights and political figures to Mogadishu was, reports revealed, at top of its day-to-day tasks.
It is not yet clear – at this stage if SOLJA – if the main media watchdog in Somaliland – would challenge the government on its hurtful, damning ‘revelation’ or remain toothless. At a time which the public has accepted the ineffectual, clichès of the organization in defence of an independent media climate as mere pantomimes, expectations for it to take the issue up with the government is thin – at best.