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Issue 510/ 5th - 11th Nov 2011
The Teashop Scandal That Shook Somaliland
By Adam Madar
Somaliland’s prima donna minister of civil aviation and air transport, Mohamoud Hashi, has finally shown his true colors when on Monday 24th; he illegally ordered the arrest of a Somaliland citizen named Abdi Ibrahim- the proprietor of a teashop situated in the arrivals lounge at Hargeysa International Airport.
The minister falsely accused Abdi (known by his first name) that he was “plotting to murder a government minister [Hashi]”. As a result, Abdi was immediately arrested and thrown behind bars. It has now become clearly evident however that the plot to kill the minister was completely a red herring and a fabrication. In fact, Hashi was trying to find ways and means by which to evict Abdi from his teashop at the airport, which falls under the jurisdiction of the ministry of civil aviation and air transport.
Abdi ekes out a precarious living by selling soft drinks, juice, teas and coffee to passengers arriving at the airport in the arrivals lounge where, unlike the departures lounge, people barely buy anything from his teashop. Previously he owned the teashop in the departures lounge but, owing to nepotism, he was unfairly moved to the arrivals lounge following a terminal revamp. The meager income which Abdi scrapes out of this teashop was barely enough to support his family. For this reason, Abdi was offered to take up a stall in the VIP lounge to compensate for the loss of earnings due to his moving to the arrivals lounge. Abdi readily accepted the offer.
Abdi is a disabled man and an SNM veteran who still bears the scars of the injuries he sustained during the struggle to liberate Somaliland against Mohamed Siyad Barre’s military junta.
For the past twenty years, Abdi had a teashop serving passengers at the airport. He has become like part of the airport. The late president of Somaliland, Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, rewarded Abdi with the shop by giving him an assured tenancy agreement for an indefinite period.
Also Egal’s successor, Dahir Riyale Kahin, equally allowed Abdi to continue to keep the teashop although he was later moved to the arrivals lounge. Much to his credit, president Sillanyo equally told his minister in no uncertain terms: get your hands off this man’s [Abdi] teashop. But Hashi is the sort of man who won’t take no for an answer.
Unbeknownst to the president however is the fact that the minister keeps coming back like boomerang and still harassing the poor man in an endeavor to evict him from his teashop at the airport.
One wonders, therefore, where this minister, Hashi, got the authority to challenge the president’s explicit order to “leave Abdi alone”. For sometime, there were rumors swirling around that Hashi and the minister of presidency, Hersi Ali Haji Hassan, who unscrupulously usurped a project run by Idriss Abbas’s (formerly known as John Drysdale) Somaliland Cadastral Surveys company, wield undue influence on the president.
On many an occasion, many people including myself brushed aside of these wild rumors but the conduct of this minister indeed lends weight and credence to these rumors.
What is so disgraceful and absolutely dishonorable is the fact that a cabinet minister would stoop so low as to unscrupulously usurp a teashop from a poor and disabled war veteran like Abdi and trample upon his constitutional rights by throwing him in prison.
What, in the name of reason, could possibly justify this wanton abuse of ministerial power?
“Over the past two decades I have seen so many aviation ministers but I have never come across a government minister who, by any stretch of the imagination, expressed any desire to set up his own stall in the airport so as to make a profit out of selling juice, soft drinks and tea to passengers,” said Abdi Ibrahim, who gave an interview to Haatuf newspaper while being illegally held in custody in Hargeysa Central Police Station.
“The minister has now taken over the ownership of my teashop located in the VIP lounge where he sells soft drinks” poor Abdi added, according to Haatuf newspaper.
Abdi also told Haatuf that the minister was really upset about the fact that he went out of his way to see the president about the teashop and that he was given an explicit assurance by president Sillanyo that he would be allowed to continue to keep his teashop.
This shameful episode coupled with Hashi’s recent announcement that he would put his ministry’s office buildings on the auction block is a clear testimony to his insatiable greed and a relentless quest for making a quick buck.
The fact that he is unwilling to hand over the taxes collected from the airport to the treasury is yet again another proof of Hashi’s no-holds-barred greed. In the past, he was accused of having misappropriated funds donated by Kuwait to the people of Somaliland. The journalist who broke the story was immediately thrown in prison.
Not long ago, there was a serious row between Hashi and the former minister of public works and housing, Hussein Ahmed Aideed, over the sale of piece of land owned by the ministry of civil aviation and air transport.
Aideed, a former Navy Colonel, is naturally a hard-to-please, tough-talking and uncompromising man. Hashi, on the other hand, is described as a man with dogged determination who always wants his own way. The two were therefore bound to collide at one point or another.
Hashi desperately wanted to sell the ministry’s land but the decision to authorize it rested with Aideed who had brusquely opposed to the whole idea. And so the two argued and argued for days behind closed doors without the prying eyes of the local media. None of them was willing to give an inch.
Finally, Hashi used his influence and connections and Aideed was eventually transferred to the ministry of justice in a mini cabinet reshuffle carried out by president Sillanyo. Now, the way was clear for Hashi, which is why he so desperately wants to sell his ministry’s offices and land in central Hargeysa.
If Sillanyo is genuinely interested to weed out the bad apples amongst his cabinet ministers, here is one who unashamedly put himself in the spotlight. He is greedy and shameless.
He is aggressively and brazenly looking for a get-rich-quick-scheme even if it means abusing and misusing his authority in order to sell tea and coffee to passengers at the airport for which he is responsible.
Such a man cannot be entrusted with a position of responsibility because he does not understand, in the first place, the importance of the ministerial portfolio and burden of responsibility on his shoulders. It is one thing to be a juice seller [sharaable], but it’s quite another to be a cabinet minister.
There is only one way to deal with a cabinet minister who behaves like this and has shown contempt for the presidential authority. He MUST be given his marching orders without further ado so that he could have the liberty to open his own teashop at a place of his choosing somewhere in the country.