By Selam Lealem 4 April 2018
The Council members of The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, the Governing party of Ethiopia, elected Dr Abiy Ahmed, as the Chairperson of the Front. He was elected to the chairmanship after rigors evaluation and fierce struggle. That is a source of strength and a motivating factor to prove unduly critics. He is also the Chairperson of the Oromo People Democratic Organization, OPDO, in a recent reconfiguration of the leadership of the organization. In other words, he has strong backing not only from his mother party but from all the member parties of EPRDF.
Since his election, well prior to that, many social media and main stream media outlets extensively profiled about Dr Abiy both in the positive and negative. Both traits are not based on researched evidence but lend their selves to perceptions, speculations and hearsay about the person of Dr Abiy.
He joined OPDO as a high school student. Since then he moved from the rank and file of OPDO to becoming its leader recently. His long experience in the party, with his strong political commitment to the ideals of revolutionary democratic program of EPRDF and to the policy of developmental and democratic state, hence, cannot be doubted or questioned. That credential remains an assist and the foundation for his leadership. His educational back ground and his enthusiasm and willingness to learn and read continuously, makes him well prepared for any responsibly.
His track record demonstrates that he proved himself in delivering results in all duties that he was tasked by the party and the Government both at Federal and Oromia Regional State levels. Among others, in his short stay as the minister of science and technology, he was praised as one the most effective and result oriented ministers under the leadership of his predecessor. Prior to that he transformed the science technology Center of excellence and steered the Information Network Security Agency(INSA), where he did a very impressive work. His contribution to where INSA is today cannot be overemphasized. When he was transferred to Oromia region as deputy chief administrator in charge of urban development and housing, he dared and took courageous and brave measures on illegal trade network and illegal acquisitions of urban land in Oromia region. As a result, he was highly appreciated by law abiding citizens while he made enemies from those who were thriving in rent seeking activities.
Expectations are high that he will replicate and wage similar fight against illegal rent seekers at Federal level without any fear and favor. When he assigned to head the secretariat of the OPDO central committee, he literally reorganized the structures OPDO that was total dismantled. With his comrades he cleaned the ideologically infiltrated members from their wrong alignment. On a personal note, Dr Abiy is a very good example of diversity of an Ethiopian family.
He was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mothered orthodox denomination. He is a devoted evangelical Christian himself, though many would rush to take him as a Muslim from his name. That is a typical uniqueness of Ethiopia. Many might, on the other hand do not know that his deputy, again because of his name, Demeke Mekonen, is a Muslim.
Dr Abiy, an Oromo is married to an Amhara, clearly displaying that he can only symbolize our diversity even at family level. For those who doubt his democratic nationalism, there cannot be a better proof than his family composition. He cannot but be only Ethiopian. Understandably, expectations and hopes are high from all Ethiopians that he would respond and deliver to the legitimate demands of the public.
In my opinion, I have no doubt that, with his team, he will live up to that expectations. However, he is taking the mantle of the premiership at the very challenging period of the country. He has now the trust of his party and the general public. That is a very good starting point. To rally his supporters and critiques behind his leadership, he has to undertaking confidence building measures to mend the credibility gap between the government and the public. That is not an easy task. The challenges are enormous, and the expectations are high.
He has to define the priority of priorities and move quickly and steadfastly. Of course, he is not starting from scratch. This was a country on the move with solid foundation and his task is to make sure that he wins the hearts and minds of the peoples of Ethiopia. His message of unity and solidarity both in words and in deeds is vital. In this case, opening democratic and political space, removing all administrative and legal obstacles, ensuring rule by law and treating each and all equally, fairly and justly are immediate tasks that can give assurances to the public. Delivery of government services efficiently and effectively as provided by law is of paramount importance.
Accountability at all levels must be ensured and he should prove that nobody is above and beyond law. The federal system was accepted by all Ethiopians through their representatives. However, doubts are clouding the system as if it were not fair and just. In my view it was the implementation that led to such doubts and ensuring transparency and participatory approach in what the federal Government does, in this regard, would gradually reveal how the system is designed to be fair and just.
Despite the government’s remarkable economic and social growth, poverty remains Ethiopia’s number one enemy. The new PM must make sure that the transformation agenda is promoted and implemented with full force as it will also contribute to the demands of the youth in creating jobs and improving the living standards of the peoples. The last three years were not good years for GTP because of the violence and political crisis that engulfed the country. It is incumbent upon him to galvanize and mobilize all actors to compensate for the lost time.
In diplomatic front, to restore the trust and acceptance achieved in the past and portray the positive image of the country under the current circumstances is critical. I know for sure this is easier said than done but there is no other alternative. Dr Abiy bearing mounting pressure and shoulders immense responsibility. I am certain; he understands very well the huge task upon him. I believe he is ready to address head on these challenges. It goes without saying that he alone cannot do very much.
Therefore, his number one task is to have a very strong, politically committed, and professionally competent and experienced team around him. His task is to play the role of a captain in a well-organized and professionally assembled team. His role in the party is also critical to forge strong unity of purpose and actions. In fact, the starting point for him, would be to draw the lessons from the failure and success of his predecessor including the factors that led him to resign before completion of his term in office.
As said earlier, expectations of the public are high. However, the public should give the new leader time. Not only give him time but each and every one of us should do her or his party and be part of the solution not only is words but in actions. No government, in any country, can build a complex nation like ours by itself. Let us all ask ourselves “what role and contribution can I make in addressing the current difficulty facing our country?” Let us forge our unity. Let us all do rally around our new PM. May peace prevail in Ethiopia.