Featured Opinion

Youth agenda was sacrificed at the altar of greed, patronage

Governor ignored a democratic process for political considerations, asking a duly elected Secretary General to step down for his unsuccessful opponent

Darwin Naikuni

Members of the Kajiado County Youth Alliance (KCYA), drawn from the length and breadth of the county, thronged their designated polling stations on May 19, 2018, to exercise their democratic right to elect leaders into the body mandated to champion their socio-economic and political empowerment.

There was much optimism and enthusiasm as young men and women campaigned for their preferred candidates. A keen observer would have noticed that a generation had arisen that had unequivocal faith in their representatives to liberate them from constant disillusionment.

Unfortunately, two years down the line, that enthusiasm has turned into frustration, thanks in part to the greed of those granted the mandate to lead, in addition to selfish interest on the part of the political class.

While the youth turned out enmasse at the Moi Avenue Primary School in Nairobi and at Kajiado Township in Kajiado town for the important election, the exercise was chaotic and shambolic. This was partly due to members’ distrust of the electoral commission, whose chair was Julius Keloi. There was also apparent division within the commission.

Prior to the election day, It became clear to a majority of the members that Keloi had a preferred candidate, Tirike Mankura, for the seat. This dealt a mortal blow to the credibility of the body supposed to oversee the much-anticipated exercise.

True to the speculation, the commission’s chair ended up handing a winner’s certificate to Tirike a few days to the actual election day, and this escalated tensions between the supporters of the contesting groups.

On the material day, preliminary results from the Nairobi polling station pointed to an imminent win by the current chair, Robert Lempaso.

Upon this realization, the Tirike Mankura-led faction became restive, culminating in the halting of the exercise at the Kajiado station.

They claimed that their supporters were not allowed sufficient time to do the voting, leading to their agitation for a repeat of the exercise.

This led to a sustained push-and-pull that attracted the attention of the county administration. However, Governor Joseph ole Lenku’s intervention only further complicated the matter. His move is highly blamed for the failure of the body’s incumbent leadership.

First, he ignored a democratic process for political considerations, asking a duly elected Secretary General, Letema Tipape, to step down for his unsuccessful opponent Enock Kutatoi. Arguably, this was to allow the two giant parties to share the slots.

It was understood that the governor’s decision was informed by an attempt to appease both parties, since both leaders were his loyalists.

However, a majority of the youth were of the opinion that, in disrespecting the voice of the thousands of youth who expressed their democratic right through the ballot, the governor turned a youth affair into a cause for achieving political mileage, more so given that clan arithmetic played out prominently in the course of events.

Shortly thereafter, matters were “resolved” and everybody went back to their business. Unsuccessful loyalists of the governor were rewarded with plum government jobs.

Meanwhile, the newly-elected chairman took no time before he reneged his core duty to the youth, and has since then effectively cut the classic image of a sycophant.

As his two-year term comes to a close, and as elections approach, he has no substantial success to showcase, but only threats that he will disregard the body’s laws and extend his term so he can assist Lenku win his re-election in 2022, betraying his lack of an agenda.

Yet, he was elected to serve the interest of the youth, including lobbying for job opportunities for unemployed graduates both in the county government and corporate organizations.

Youth enterprises are supposed to get at least 30 per cent of government contracts; local investors should also be preserving at least 70 per cent of job opportunities for locals.

The chairman is expected to remain vocal in fighting for such policies to be adhered to, and if need be to also coordinate with the County Assembly Committee on Youth and Sports to formulate more policies that will address youth issues of unemployment and marginalisation.

Instead, he has become a stumbling block, even ensuring that the youth do not get an opportunity to air the views. How else can we explain the fact that he has never organized an annual general meeting as required in the Constitution? Perhaps, he fears that comrades will tell him to his face that he has badly failed them.

My appeal: Since our chairman has failed to demonstrate leadership in addressing our issues, I urge the youth fraternity to show up on June 6, and vote him out. Let us also say no to any selfish bid to violate our regulations by postponing an election at an individual’s whims.

Darwin is a former Kenya Maa Students Association IT Administrator and a member of the KCYA Electoral Commission.

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