By Liban Obsiye
Friday August 18, 2023
Many people called me immediately after the
appointment of my good friend Abdihakim Yusuf as the Chief of Staff
(CoS) of Villa Somalia by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. It was
strange because I was asked questions like, "Which does the new CoS
prefer: tea or coffee? Which qabil is he (most popular)? He is a
newcomer, what do you think he will achieve?
answers are always the same: please ask him directly as Abdihakim is
humble and open-minded and usually welcomes queries from all interested
people. Then the conversation becomes stale, and both sides hang up.
However, I realise now that those who called me and others across
Somalia and some international partners might be wondering who Abdihakim
Yusuf is, what his contribution to the role could be, and whether he
can deliver or not. Having known the CoS and worked with him closely for
over a decade, I think I can answer some of the questions people have
asked and others that might still be on people's minds.
the issue or tea and coffee, I think the new CoS likes both as I have
had these beverages with him over the years. So offering him either in a
meeting might be fine but it is better to ask him first as most human
do like to interchange the drinks. On his qabil, I have never asked him
and still do not know.
Frankly, I am still
very uninterested. This might be hard to belief but the conversation on
clan lineage never really interested us or our key circle of friends who
were attracted to one another’s company through academic endeavor and
professional commitment to contributing our knowledge and skill to
Abdihakim Yusuf is
among the most qualified and experienced appointments to the position of
CoS, arguably since the position was created. This is because he is
very qualified academically and professionally accomplished in his
expertise within international development, state building and
reconstruction, conflict resolution, good governance, capacity building
of institutions and professionals as well as project management.
Abdihakim has always been passionate about Somalia’s stability and
development to the extent that he inspired me to return to Somalia a
decade ago to help capacity build the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while
living in the UK together. He also encouraged and supported me to remain
in Somalia despite receiving many lucrative offers of employment from
international organizations over the years. When one is in doubt, he has
that rare ability to refocus you on the bigger picture. More
importantly, he has deep love for Somalia, knowledge of Somali and
regional politics as well as socio-economic challenges and
opportunities. This will serve him well in his new role at this critical
time of hope and transformation.
today must also be resilient and patient as working in fragile and
Conflict Affected states like Somalia presents many challenges that can
quickly derail the painfully slow yet fruitful development gains made.
Abdihakim has dedicated over a decade of his professional life to
Somalia’s state and peace building processes, forming and sustaining an
enviable array of influential and impactful connections that he has been
able to work with and mobilise in Somalia’s favour. He has advised some
of Somalia’s important international partners including the World Bank,
the European Union, the Martti Ahtisaari Institute, the Somalia
Stability Fund and held honorary research associate position at the
internationally prestigious university of Bristol in the UK.
his most recent senior presidential advisory role at the Office of the
President’s National Policy Coordination Unit, Abdihakim actively
contributed to the regular National Consultative Council negotiations
and engagement with key international partners as well as helped to
implement the president’s vision for a safe, progressive and prosperous
Somalia at peace with itself and the world.
Today, as President
Hassan Sheikh leads Somalia on a historic journey to achieving debt
relief, comprehensively defeating Al-Shabaab, returning the nation’s
security and defence back to the Somali people after the African Union
Transition and drawdown and lifting the UN arms embargo, Villa Somalia
requires an experienced and courageous visionary with an appetite for
hard work and uncompromising commitment to doing the right thing by the
President and the nation. Abdihakim Yusuf is this proven reformer, hard
worker, and experienced visionary who can be trusted to advice and lead
on President Hassan’s enabling vision for Somalia. Of course, been CoS
anywhere in the world is tough and Abdihakim also has the patience,
resilience, tenacity, organizational skills, and consensus building
skills to instill a new spirit and energy into Villa Somalia.
Congratulations and good luck my friend.
The writer can be reached through: [email protected]