Students debate on federalism and good governance

Debate Winners

Debate winners from Simad University in Mogadishu hold a trophy awarded to them by Somali Interior State Minister Abdulrashid Hidig. The dialogue was organized by Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs (MOIFA) and UN officials. Credit: UN PHOTO/Omar Abdisalm

Somali university students participated in a vibrant, day-long open dialogue on federalism and good governance that culminated in a debate contest. The aim of the dialogue held in the capital Mogadishu was to strengthen the students’ understanding of the Federalism and the state-building process in Somalia.

The dialogue covered important topics such as federalism, democratization and good governance – issues that feature prominently in the government’s Vision 2016, which forms the building blocks of Somalia as a nation state. The dialogue drew members of parliament, academia and UN officials.
The lively discourse was followed by an inter-university debate organized by the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs (MOIFA), supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). The top orator of the day was Simad University’s Alinor Abdi Osman who beat participants from nine other universities to win first place for her university as well as in the individual category.

Somalia International University and University of Somalia were first and second runners up respectively. In the individual category, Abdul Kadri Hussein Hassan from Hope University and Sumaya Elmi Duhulow from Somali International University took second and third positions respectively.

Sumaya Elmi Duhulow made an impressive argument on federalism and won the hearts of many students. She argued that Somalia had in the past paid a huge price for failing to choose federalism: “I believe that federalism is the only solution in Somalia after a long war based on clans and groups in Somalia. I believe that federalism can bring a good solution in Somalia, because the population has a history of public administration for over 70 years based on clans. So we cannot neglect that. We have to put that in mind. We cannot repeat the same mistakes that happened in the 1960’s, when they refused to take federalism as the manner of administration in Somalia,” she said. 

Addressing the students at the end of the debate, the State Minister of Interior and Federal Affairs Abdulkadir Hidig emphasized the role of the youth in the country’s democratization process. “These are scholars from universities and they are very welcome to give us their advice, give us direction and work with us. Actually they are playing their role. So without the youth we cannot move at all,” he said. He noted that the young people, who form the bulk of Somalia’s population, need to engage with the political processes in the country by choosing a system of governance that would be beneficial to the people. 

He disclosed that the Ministry of Interior planned to extend the dialogue to other regions, starting with the port city of Kismayo, the capital of Jubbaland.