Ethiopia seems to be facing multiple problems. As such, thoughtful policy making is vital to solve the problems in a balanced way. The role of research and fact finding in all this is crucial. The state seem to be using research as a basis for policy making. But, there are still areas such as ongoing protest in Oromia, where fact finding is not being implemented.
In this age and era, there is nothing more important than relying on the will of the people before making policy decisions. Free press is vital to realising this goal. In the absence of opposition parties that enlighten the people with alternative thoughts, the role of the free press is more critical than ever.
That seems to be the intent of the ruling party. Lately, it has been exerting efforts to put across the critical role the press can play to curb the problem of maladministration and corruption.
Exposing the high level conference held recently to assess the findings of a study group on governance, to the scrutiny of the media is a showcase. The members of the committee had been to different places and conducted their research for a period of over two months. That is what I call an attempt exerted to find the truth right from the horse’s mouth.
Another group, composed of the members of all the pertinent offices, has been deployed to assess the breadth and depth of the impacts of the global warming and its impact in the different parts of the country. Again, that is also an important effort to assess the death dealing situation in the country in order to prepare an evidence-based demand for food and drinking water. That is exactly the type of important responsibility used to find the actual situation.
Policy decisions should always be made upon the findings of research. Based on the interdependence of Oromia and the metropolis, a palatable solution can be reached between the Regional State and City Hall.
But gunning down peacefully demonstrating university or high school students is not a solution. It aggravates a sensitive situation and can have a negative impact on the security of the country, not to speak of digging the graves of those who lost their lives and rubbing the bloody hearts of those who lost their loved ones last year. Abadulla Gemeda, speaker of the Upper House, had promised last year to direct the relevant officials to investigate in detail and bring the culprits and their accomplices before the law. But, with due respect, the Speaker who had also served as president of the regional state did not stand up to this word.
The master plan issue has once again been the cause of another round of riots all over the high schools and some of the universities thus triggering the shooting of the students. These problems could have been avoided, had research, opinion polls or joint discussions between City Hall incumbents and opposition party officials, been conducted in time.
Officials of these parties have, however, been accused of adding fuel to the fire. That kind of allegation will only help to make bad matters worse, and will adversely affect the country’s meeting its development objectives.
At a time when the foreign investors are keen on censoring every piece of information about what is going on in the country, riots erupting here and there and students being killed by security officers spoils Ethiopia’s name and profile.
In the current situation implementing the master plan may be reconsidered to focus on making the best use of the plots of land left fallow after the demolition of the slums right in the middle of the city. These fallow plots have turned out to be hiding places for vandals and robbers.
Hardly a week passes without our listening to reports of certification of the police force that take part in training schedules of all sorts. Let us hope this training will help them to become familiar with the Ethiopian Constitution and to better protect citizens from burglary and other crimes. But we also ask ourselves whether or not the police have kept their oaths and vows and served the people who pay their salaries through paying taxes.
In retrospect, we have seen that since the Hailesealssie regime, students or the young elites have always been targets of police bullets or beatings. This is even more intriguing when we see that most of the latest victims are from Oromia.
Up the ladder of ascendancy, all of us can trace our identity in one nation or the other. But we all share the same country. We know that our exports, gold mines, fertile land, and manpower resources are all obtained from that region whose children are being shot, tortured, harassed and kept behind bars.
Do they deserve that? Can we not find peaceful ways of solving the problems?
Addis Abeba has a lot of problems already overloading its carrying capacity. Water shortage, electricity interruption and consequential disorder of telephone and Internet connections deserve priority places. Research is very important to consider before moving too fast down the planing tube.
Some may say that democracy is still in the building, but they will find themselves wrong if they read Asmerom Legesse’s (Prof.) The Gada System of Oromo. Let us sleep over it, and talk over it.
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