The 37th President of United States, President Richard Nixon was asked why he choose Spiro Agnew as his Vice President. He said “He is my insurance policy because nobody in his right mind will harm me as long as Agnew was my Vice President since no one wants to see Agnew as my successor”. We have not asked Riyale the same question yet; however, President Riyale may have found his insurance policy in his Vice President. Mr. Ahmed Yassin occupies the second highest position in the government. Besides the president he is the only one in the executive branch who was elected by the public and therefore has a mandate to lead the nation. As the recent public disagreement between the Vice President Ahmed Yassin and Minister of Interior Mr. Ismail shows; the Vice President has become a push-over and unfortunately, appointed cabinet ministers are running circles around him, simply because they have established closer personal relationship with the President.
The constitutional power of the VP is extremely limited to serve at the pleasure of the President and to resume the responsibility of the President when the President is either out of the country or is incapacitated by illness. Having said that, the real power of the Vice President always depends on the individual who is occupying the position; his leadership skills, his ambition and his working relationship with the President. In order to succeed in his position the Vice President has to forge a very close working relationship with the President. He should have the trust of the President and must demonstrate leadership role for all the departments of the executive branch of government. If the Vice President isn’t willing or unable to gain the trust of the President; he is doing disservice to the President and to the country, not to mention his own political future.
Let’s review the record of the Vice President thus far to answer the question: Is Ahmed Yassin ready to step in, God forbid, if the country needs his leadership in an emergency?
On Foreign policy:
The Vice President never participated in any foreign policy discussions, seldom attends foreign policy briefings or shows interest in meeting with foreign dignitaries. Presumably he is not very well read in this topic either. Strangely enough the Vice President has not left the country yet to meet with other foreign leaders that he may have to deal with in the future. What he knows about the world affairs are for all practical purpose limited to what he hears from the BBC and Somaliland media. He also surrounded himself with people who know no more than he does in this subject.
National (Internal) Affairs:
The President asked the Vice President to lead a national committee that was supposed to find a political solution for the Sool conflict. If he succeeded, this issue would have given him new stature, political experience, and above all personal accomplishment. Let alone solving this problem, the Vice President never visited east of Burco to date. He failed to mobilize the nation, make the issue a priority and ask the Somaliland people to support him. He practically failed the test and has neglected his duty.
Somaliland has only six States and they are close enough to travel through all six States in one single day. The Vice President did not visit all six regions of the country to educate himself about their needs and concerns. You’ll think the Vice President would want to travel extensively to know the people and build up relationships and his political capital. To add insult to injury; all the Mayors of the country have experienced a major political upheaval and it has become a revolving door to elect and fire Mayors in the nation. Also, the Interior Minister Mr. Ismail has become very involved with the local politics and many elected local government officials have complained about his interference. The Vice President never commented on the issue until Saahil experienced the same problem. All of a sudden the Vice President become very interested in the issue and has publicly criticized the Interior Minister for interfering in the local affairs of Saahil region. Though most have agreed with his criticism, the people were disappointed that the issue did not get his attention earlier. The local media posed the question “Mr. VP what took you so long and why mention only Berbera? Aren’t you the Vice President for the whole country?”. His actions show that he believes his role in the national affairs is limited to making all the decisions pertaining to his tribe and Saahil region. He is not having much luck on either of them. First the people in Sahil are very unhappy with the two parliamentary seats that he gave away to Hargeisa. They know they could’ve kept those seats in Sahil and still could’ve gone after their share in the parliamentary seats in Hargeisa. Needless to say his addition by subtraction didn’t sit well with a lot of his kinsmen. Also a lot of them may be joining KULMIYE in droves and their may be a big surprise in Sahil during the parliamentary elections. Sahil has been a safe Udub territory but the natives are finally waking up to the reality that Egal is dead and it is time to build up political relationships and influence.
Nothing illustrates his judgment better than how he dealt with the Zamzam affair. He dragged that affair so long that it did great damage to nation’s image. His name was dragged through the mud as the man who was keeping this girl in jail. He should’ve expedited the process to its faithful conclusion. It’s been said that he dreamed of being harmed by a girl sent from puntland and once this girl showed up at his door step……. Well let’s just say that he has more faith in dreams than in realities.
On his political Ambition:
None. He reached the summit already. He never expected to be where he is now. He was willing to start at the bottom and stay their but by the grace of Allah he was at the right place at the right time. All the prove you need is the fact that a VP always prepares himself to seek the nomination of his party for the Presidency in the upcoming election, do you see him laying the ground work?
His biggest accomplishment:
He congratulated the people of Dhoqoshay for their heroics in apprehending those Terrorists, which by the way started his raw with the Interior minister. Would you want this man to be your president?
On my next “VP WATCH” article I will examine the VP’s background and experience and in depth analysis of how he got the nomination.
Note: The author of this article is a native of Saahil region and belongs to the same clan as that of the VP. I merely mentioned this so it won’t be seen as a tribal attack from outsiders. It became customary for the Somalilanders writers to always point the finger at other clans while turning a blind eye to their own culprits. Your constructive comments and corrections are welcome.