By Osman Sultan Ali

During the 2017 presidential campaign in Somaliland, the people of Fiqi Ayoub and Ceel Baxay in Togdhare and Sahel regions, respectfully, and overwhelmingly voted for Muse Bihi Abdi, who was elected president.

Unfortunately, the President rewarded his ardent supporters by giving the green light to his Minister of Energy and Minerals, Mr. Jama Mohamoud Egal, to sell the natural resources in the area to an unscrupulous and greedy clique of foreign and domestic investors, who unlawfully formed secret shell companies for the sole purpose of immensely enriching themselves. They hired Chinese technical mercenaries to extract, on their behalf, minerals (jade) from the area without compensation to the people of Somaliland and the inhabitants of the area, who are the rightful owners of the land.

According to reliable sources, the Minister of Energy and Minerals, inexplicably and astoundingly, granted 92% ownership of the natural resources of the area to these shady and predatory operators. The government owns only the remaining 8%. This illegal and outrageous wholesale giveaway of the minerals of the country is beyond comprehension.

But how could Minister Jama and his minions pull off these unlawful actions and deceive the parliament, the house of elders, the national media, and the people at large and get away with it? Why is it that there is no fearless and tenacious media that is not afraid to hold the powerful accountable? The media said nothing about this and has done no investigation of any kind.

Since the Parliament recently rejected the Energy and Minerals laws, on what legal basis has the government permitted the stealing of minerals in Fiqi Ayoub district and beyond? Likewise, what laws would allow the Ministers of Defense and Energy & Minerals to conspire to station troops there to protect the interests of a den of villains against peaceful inhabitants of the area?

Somaliland is a tribal society; there are no national political parties, democratic pretensions notwithstanding. Instead there are, strictly speaking, only tribal parties that look after the perceived interests of their tribal constituents. The constitution is for all practical purposes a worthless document since neither the government nor the tribal parties pay any attention to it. Official regulations and laws aren’t worth the paper they are written on because they are neither respected nor enforced except against peaceful citizens who dare to complain about injustice perpetrated against their interests.

For instance, Waddani and Ucid officials have publicly said nothing about the fiasco in Fiqi Ayoub. Many of the perpetrators of the injustice and their victims belong to the same tribe, and so their reaction is, “a plague on both houses.”

Additionally, the national media has not made any attempt to educate the citizens and publicize the illegality and corruption in the Fiqi Ayoub operation.

It is beyond the realm of logic and reason to believe that the Bihi government would allow foreign and domestic looters to potentially rake in hundreds of millions of dollars, to cause enormous damage to the health of the inhabitants and their livestock, and to turn the pristine and beautiful mountains of the area into a wasteland.

So, what is in it for them? Well, rampant rumors have it that some ministers and others in and outside the government might have concocted this scheme with the investors to share the 92% of the ownership of the minerals (jade). High ranking officials in the government are allegedly shareholders in the four companies that are now in the process of extracting the minerals. This is called a conflict of interest in countries where there are enforceable laws against government officials who engage in double-dealing, self-enrichment, and corruption.

At any rate, during the negotiation between government representatives and local elders about the minerals project, the people welcomed Minister Jama, other ministers, and dignitaries who visited Fiqi Ayoub several times. He promised that the government and the companies would provide Fiqi Ayoub, Ceel Baxay, etc., with development projects including education, medical and social services, electricity, wells for clean water and jobs for the people who lost their livestock in the recent severe drought and were looking for alternative ways of making a living.

However, Minister Jama reneged on all his commitments, which turned out to be deliberate, false and empty promises. And to add an insult to an injury, he told the locals pointedly that they should be grateful for the scores of coolie jobs that they have and that they should be patient until the companies start making money to throw them some more crumbs.

Moreover, Minister Jama and his cronies have allegedly resorted to a dangerous campaign of bribery and intimidation to silence their critics who express legitimate concerns about unlawful actions. There are apparently freelance provocateurs who threaten anyone who raise questions about the Fiqi Ayoub fiasco.

The Ministry of Energy and Minerals had done no environmental studies and did not test the poisonous chemicals being used to extract the minerals. The workers have no protection of any kind against potential severe health issues that could arise in the future. No goggles, no masks, and no appropriate clothing for the hazardous work. The Ministry has no personnel in the field to properly manage and supervise the work.

Minister Jama, emboldened by his apparent success in Fiqi Ayoub, reportedly granted mineral and petroleum licenses to select individuals from preferred clans to have ownership of parcels of land in many parts of Somaliland. This dangerous land grab may potentially lead to civil strife and mini civil wars.

The international community has commended the people of Somaliland and their leadership for establishing peace and security in their country since 1991 in a very unstable and turbulent region. This is a laudable achievement that should be maintained at all costs.

Therefore, President Musa Bihi Abdi should do the following:


  1. Immediately shut down the illegal, corrupt and destabilizing operation in Fiqi Ayoub.
  2. Rein in the Minister of Energy and Minerals and cancel all the clan-based licenses granted to favored individuals by him and his predecessor.
  3. Appoint an impartial commission to do a thorough investigation into the legitimate shareholders in the four companies involved in the jade extraction operation in Fiqi Ayoub.
  4. Send home the Chinese technical mercenaries.

The citizens of Somaliland at home and abroad trust that their President will do the right thing in order to preserve the good reputation of the country, its security, and stability.