After more than two decades of civil conflicts, the Somali independent Media has always remained the only flourishing sector in the country. With a population of just over eight million, Somalia has a remarkable diverse range of news media, with approximately 20 radio stations, several internet news sites and at least 8 TV Stations.
The Somali independent media that has played a crucial role in the nation’s free journalism is now deteriorating because of negligence deliberated by some foreign (In particular British) media communication companies contracted by the UN.
It is obvious that the UN intentions for supporting Somalia through media and communications was great, since at the bottom line was to enhance the capacity of the Somali independent media, to support government policies and AMISOM mission. These great intentions could be achieved by contracting experienced and trustworthy media communication associations with responsible leadership that could fully accomplish the objectives of the UN contracts, giving its first priority the Somali people as the main beneficiary target.
Something that could not be attained for more than three years by contracting failed associations like Albany Associates and their irresponsible key leaders such as Simon Haselock and Steve Turner who are famous of prioritizing to finance their own pockets rather than giving a minimal respect to the purpose of the UN contracts. These individuals are well known of violating the rights of their own Somali journalist staff members and they remain till today, as the intimidators of Somalia’s independent media, one of the Somali internet news sites posted few months ago, “These individuals and their associations are threat to the Somalia’s flourishing independent media”.
They believe in corruptions to get UN contracts on behalf of Somalia by corrupting Somali key personnel of the Ministry of Information as well as some corrupted UN key personnel such as Nick Birnback from the former UNPOS office (now UNSOM) and Simon Davis from UNSOA. These are the UN officers responsible of the unprofessional conduct occurred over the UN piracy bid on 2013, when under a corruption deal, they handed over the piracy bid, to Adan Abdirizak who is a former secretary of a former Somali minister of information. Because of his media incompetency, the piracy project has never been completed and the funds (almost one million US) are gone for good. These, were funds that if managed properly, it could have been a good piracy project that Somali people at large could have benefitted from.
It is very shameful that still associations like Albany are still chasing UN contracts aimed to advocate for Somali government, and to represent the so-called AU/UN IST. Sources close to Albany associates in particular Steve Turner, say that they are convincingly projecting to win an upcoming UN bid, if they include Eng. bdurrahman Yarisow, who is the former Somali government spokesman and advisor of the president, in their front leading personnel. In fact, rumors among Somalis are already suggesting that spokesman Yarisow has recently resigned from his position to join the corrupted Albany club of the unscrupulous Simon Haselock and Steve Turner.
The United Nation’s easy-to-get contract funds over Somali Media have also attracted by other new smaller size British media companies such as Chime Communications and Breakthrough Media; which are no different from Albany Associates, since they are directly or indirectly allied with them. Breakthrough media is also a threat to the Somali cultural and traditional society, the group belongs to the so called “Don’t ask don’t tell” community and they recruit only members of this group.
For some reason, Independent Somali media companies are excluded from these kinds of UN contracts and the best they can get is to work for these abusive primary UN contractors with an insulting harsh pay.
The fundamental aim and purpose of the UN contracts is to make sure Somalis are benefitting from it. Therefore is up to the UN personnel to take proper measures on monitoring continuously their future contractors over Somali media communication projects. In other words, they need to conduct a thorough trustworthy and transparent third party monitoring (TPM) to verify whether any of their contracted activities are implemented and their implementing partners are doing what they are committed to do.
The UN wants Somali government to advance its policy on good governance, to reject tribalism and nepotism; but they must reassure whether or not some of their own decision-making people are practicing these negative biases. In this regard, the UN needs to stop breastfeeding such British media associations, which are really the major threats to the succeeding Somali independent media.
Undoubtedly, Somalia needs International support on media communications but certainly not from companies like Albany Associates and their affiliates who believe they can get contracts because a UN decision maker is their fellow-countryman!
Abdullahi Elmi Eynte, Independent Senior Media Adviser