Why does the Oromia region underperform?

By Tullu Liban

Oromia is the most resourceful region in the current makeup of the Ethiopian empire. However, it is the most stifled region not to operate in full swing. Eminence of the Oromia region is vividly visible not only in terms of natural resources but also in terms of human capacity. One would conveniently assert that Oromia is in the lead in educated and trained manpower in every discipline. Sadly, this resource is either wasted or underutilized arbitrarily. The reason is obvious. The minority regime in power wants to hold Oromia back. There are different manifestations by which the Oromia region is halted back. Some of the methods employed by the regime are self-evident while others are veiled.

One of the obvious subterfuge is disempowering the regional government. The regional body known as the government of Oromia is a mannequin that pretends to have full power over the region’s affairs. Nonetheless neither the public nor the OPDOs themselves believe this is true. The regional government performs within the limits the Tigrian masters want it to operate. The reginal government doesn’t move an inch without the consultation and approval of the Tigrian masters. I believe the fact doesn’t need further elaboration. Rather it is important to reflect on other covert interferences that tremendously crippled the region from moving forward.

Discouraging institutions:
Even though the entire institutions in the region are run or maneuvered by OPDOs, the TPLF doesn’t want them grow merely because they are associated with Oromia. Thus, no institution in Oromia is operating with full capacity. Here are few cases. Once Oromia Water Works Enterprise was a vibrant institution. This enterprise had a dream to develop to a strong company with a vision to operate not only in Oromia and Ethiopia but also in Africa, given the skilled manpower and the resource it possessed then. However, it was strangled in various ways and dwarfed to none. Currently all water works in Oromia are undertaken by a Tigrian company known as Saba Engineering Plc. Another example is Oromia Cooperatives’ Bank. This bank is not as such a private company, even though there are Oromo and non-Oromo individual shareholders in the business. The government is the main stakeholder who appoints board of directors and oversees the whole activity of the bank. Yet, in 2015 the Bank was in the top list of the profitable banks, while it celebrated its 10th founding anniversary. It bought a plot of land in the most expensive location of the city near the national theater to build a 30+ stories facility for its headquarters. Shortly before the euphoria was not over, the government cracked down on its board of directors and management and the bank was bankrupted in a year time with a profit decline amounting to nearly 400 million birr (almost half of the previous year’s profit it made)

Transfer of capable personnel:
TPLF doesn’t want accomplished experts and OPDO officials to work for Oromia. Two examples. Gemechu Dubbisoo, the current federal auditor general is an excellent professional. He was heading Oromia Credit and Saving Share Company (OCSSC) and he was the one who dared to purchase in a throat cutting bid a land plot around Kasanchis, commonly known as “Super Market”. The 10-story building that named Odaa Tower is the outcome of Gemechu’s effort. The TPLF didn’t want him to work for Oromia. They moved him to a federal position. Another official is Kabaa Urgessaa. Kabaa showed excellent performance while he was president of Jimma university. The TPLF removed him from that position and appointed him state minister of education. There are many such cases with other individuals.

Instable civils service:
The Oromian civil service sector is always in turmoil. There is a constant demotion, promotion, firing and suspending through a method known as performance evaluation (Gimgamaa). In reality, it is not a performance evolution. It is a means of emptying those who are not submissive. There are also different erratic workers’ intimidation methods that put the civil servant in uncertainty. Workers in any sector are always worried for their very survival. They are not sure if they could stay as workers in same position in the following month. There is no guarantee for any worker whether they can continue with their job or not.

Budget misuse:
TPLF worries only when OPDOs perform well. The masters don’t care when OPDOs misuse and abuse the regional budget. There are several accounts of public money embalmment in Oromia. Some are abused under legal cover such as workshops, trainings, meetings etc. Caps and T-shirts are purchased from Almda textile or Chinese suppliers for every bit of useless inauguration, workshop and celebration. Per diem is paid under a guise of fieldwork. It is not shame to sit in office and claim per diem in most Oromia offices once you are an OPDO member.

Project delay:
One can hardly find projects that are completed in due time. They are deliberately made lag owing to various factors. Typical example is Nekemte Stadium. Nekemte stadium was launched before Bahirdar, Mekele, Hawassa and Woldia stadiums. They are in service. God knows when Nekemte stadium becomes operational.

White elephant projects:
Construction projects in Oromia are undertaken by non-Oromo companies. Most of the buildings that are owned by Oromia region government are constructed by Tigrian companies. For example, Oromia government offices at Sar Bet and Oromo Cultural Center around Meskel Square can be mentioned. Since day one of its inauguration, the Oromia office “complex” has under gone continuous maintenances because of the substandard materials used and deformities in design. Most of the sewerage system is not working and stench around offices is not uncommon. Leakages are everywhere.
A theatre was designed to accommodate 2000 spectators at a time and to be of the state of the art in the city at the Oromo cultural center. Afrotsion, the Tigrian firm signed an agreement to build this “state of the art theatre”. At the end of the day the theatre hall turned to be a shallow room of 600 seats capacity with a narrow stage. The owner, the Oromia government didn’t dare to make Afrotsion accountable. I don’t go to details of Dembi Dollo airport it is a recent memory that went viral on the social media for weeks.

Source:  Tullu Liban

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