MOHAMED HAJI IBRAHIM EGAL WAS A GIFTED LEADER
Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal was a great Somali statesman. Egal was born in Oodweyne, Togdheer region August 15, 1928 to Haji Ibrahim Egal and Khadija Mohamed Osman. He completed his primary, intermediate, education in the former British Somaliland, Secondary school in Sudan and then went to Britain for further Studies where he stayed from 1950 to 1954.
1956, he become the Berbera branch secretary of Somali National League Party. Later in 1958, he becomes the Secretary General of the Party.
June 26, 1960: When Somaliland gained independence, Egal become Prime Minister. Mogadishu or “ Italian Somali Territory become independence four days later on July 1 and the two countries, Somaliland and Somalia united to form Somali Republic.
1960: Egal become defense minister
1962: Egal become appointed as education Minister
October 1962; Egal led a delegation to London to negotiate the NFD “Northern Frontier District in Kenya problem with British leaders. His delegation persuaded and obtained from the British Government a referendum in the NFD. In the same period, he led another delegation to Kenya to organize the referendum which found 83% in favour of joining with the Somali Republic.
1963: Egal resigned from the cabinet and formed an opposition party. He was against the severing of diplomatic ties with the UK on the question of NFD. He formed the Somali National Congress Party and remained the leader of the Parliament Opposition until 1965.
1966; Egal joined the Somali Youth League Party “SYL”
1967: Egal was again appointed as prime minister and foreign minister
October 21, 1969 Siyad Barre “ Afweyne” deposed the civilian government is a coup. Egal was jailed soon afterwards by the new military government. Egal was kept in jail until 1975.
July 1976: Egal was appointed as Ambassador to India
1976: Egal was again arrested
February 1982: Soon after his release, he was appointed as chairman of the chamber of commerce, industry and agriculture.
May 1993: Egal was elected as President of Somaliland in a national conference held in Borame
May 1995: His President mandate was extended for 18 months.
February 23, 1997: Egal was re-elected for a new five years term.
December 2001, the house of elders extended his term for one more year.
April 24, 2002: Egal was taken to South Africa for medical treatment where few days later he underwent medical tests.
May 3, 2002: Egal died in a military hospital of Pretoria after undergoing a surgery
May 6, 2002: Egal body was flown Somaliland, arriving Berbera at 7:15AM. The President was buried according his wishes, next to the grave of his father.
Aniis: What qualities determine success?
Egal: The ability to work with other people, the capacity to expand one’s mind and one’s heart as years go by, and to see the broader dimensions of the future. Most important, it’s necessary not to fear the prospect of failure but to be determined not to fail. If a leader is not willing to attempt things that might not succeed, then he/she has little faith in him/herself or the goal he/she seeks to achieve.
Aniis: How do values shape leadership?
Egal: High moral and ethical standards are essential, and they do not change from one job to another or from one level of authority to another. Honesty, truthfulness, integrity, unselfishness—these are always there. And whenever a leader violates these basic principles, through arrogance or through ignorance, there is a derogation of duty.
Leaders also have a duty to understand the needs of people who depend on them. I have never been a victim of tribal discrimination. And I have never been deprived of basic human rights.
Aniis: How does becoming president of Somaliland change the way you think and what you think about Somalia?
Egal: Becoming president of Somaliland generates and demands a much greater awareness of what one’s predecessors have done. A Leader must understand history. Quite often an awareness of what has gone before gives good guidance about how to handle current challenges or opportunities and help avoid repeating mistakes.
Leadership also requires a broad concept of your responsibility to others and your future effect on them. As you rise in political positions, you have an increasingly broad impact on other people lives.
Aniis: How would you describe your management style?
Egal: Where I could I delegate authority to others whom I trusted. I have done everything I could to master those duties that I considered uniquely mine, that no one else could perform to do that. I would commit the time and concentrated effort necessary to go into considerable detail. Management, in my view, requires mastery of relevant details about one’s own unique duties.
Aniis: When the whole country is in trouble, what special qualities does a leader need to assume command?
Egal: Particularly in a time of crisis, it all boils down to the character of the individual. As a leader, you must be perceived as totally honest, dedicated to the proper goals, and possessed of the strength necessary to achieve results. Everyone must see you as a person of integrity—people on the inside with whom you work as well as people outside your organization. Everyone must understand that you take action only to pull things together, that you will act in the best interests of all concerned. You must make it clear that you are not seeking personal aggrandizement.
Aniis: Are there any universal key to managing in a crisis?
Egal: The short replay is people. You must assemble people you trust and who can carry out their duties. You cannot rely on those who have make mistakes. Whether they acted wilfully or by happenstance, the people responsible have to go. Your new team members must be able to carry out their jobs as you direct. And the public must perceive them as capable.
Aniis: In your case, how did you handle the tough personnel decisions?
Egal: I made some drastic changes in personnel. Some who left did so by choice, and I agreed to it. Some left because I felt they had to go. You must decide who’s got to go; you cannot retain people with whom you are not comfortable. You cannot retain anyone who is perceived as incompetent. And you certainly cannot keep anyone who cannot or won’t work with your team.
Aniis: How would you describe the U.S – Somaliland relationship?
Egal: I told US. Government “You be the pitcher, I will be the Catcher “. I also told them “But once in a while, the pitcher must listen to the catcher’s good advice in Horn of Africa” This is the kind of relationship I have in mind. This is the relationship I believe will continue for the foreseeable future.
Aniis: What do you consider is the right way for leaders in Somaliland to use their power?
Egal: Somaliland is certainly the most powerful nation in what we use to call Somalia. Economically, Militarily, Politically, Morally, and Ethically. But that doesn’t mean we can use this tremendous power to subjugate other people or to impose our will on others against their wishes in Sool Region, but to alleviate it. Whenever possible we should use diplomacy and negotiation to alleviate friction, to bring disputing parties together, to resolve matters through peace full means.
In case of the Sool Region, I always eager to support any peace process that was initiated anyone in the Sool Region who took one small step toward peace knew there is an eager partner in My Government….
Aniis: Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard. The building of a personality beyond its normal limitations……Egal Was a Leader…..
ANIIS ABDILLAHI ESSA—-HEAD
SOMALILAND ADVOCACY GROUP