INFORMED ELECTORATE

NKUUBI: Why 2022 elections should be defining moment for youth

We ought to be reminded that the responsibility of working towards a governable Kenya rests on each one of us

In Summary

• Kenyans need a new narrative about a regime whose focus will be  human-centred development.

• Our collective responsibility as young Kenyans will be through our civic duty to elect an administration that is responsive to our unique needs

Ballot box
Ballot box

“Governance is more than just election moments. Citizens should be empowered with information with which they can hold their government to account.” ~ Mo Ibrahim

Less than a year to the 2022 General Election, the political temperature in the country is rising. And in a worrying trend, conversations about the elections, particularly the presidential election, are more about who becomes the next president more than what the candidates will offer.

We should be asking how the next regime is going to govern. As it stands, Kenyans stand to lose important insights that should otherwise guide them on how to elect new leaders. This includes candidates’ policy incentives, political philosophies, their track record, and importantly, an assessment on their integrity and leadership character.

At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest our political habits have come of age, or our conduct into next year’s elections will be business unusual.

Kenya’s democracy has been an interesting experience. The state has endured a one-party system, a dictatorship and violent elections that have split Kenyans along political and ethnic lines. There seems to be consensus that elections are tumultuous and present a decline in economic output and disunity among Kenyans.

We ought to be reminded that the responsibility of working towards a governable Kenya rests on each one of us.

In that respect, the 2010 Constitution sought to enforce discipline within Kenya’s political system. It set out the tenets of governance that would empower the people in all aspects — from resource allocation to the need to entrench the rule of law and a responsible governance regime. For instance, unlike many other constitutions in the world, Kenyans dedicated a whole chapter on Leadership and Integrity.

Fundamental rights and freedoms were also secured to insulate Kenyans from an illiberal regime. Term limits and a clear definition of roles of each office meant to reduce friction within the political system and reduce mischief among the political elite.

However, there is clear indication of systematic failures within the political system. There are a number of factors that have contributed to this failure and they include lack of party discipline and competitive a democracy in parties, lack of clear philosophies, failure by Parliament to enact key laws related to governance, lack of institutional culture and discipline to enforce rules and a judicial system that is sometimes susceptible to shocks.

For instance, until recently, the IEBC lacked a clear quorum yet it makes important decisions related to the conduct of polls. It is wise to remember that in 2017, one of the key reasons for nullification of the presidential election was IEBC’s failure to follow the law.

Kenyans need a new narrative about a regime whose focus will be  human-centred development.

The conversation should extend to a leadership that will guarantee economic recovery, job and wealth creation and better livelihoods for all Kenyans. For any society to grow, the nature of leadership needs to change with times to accommodate emerging issues as well.

The big issues thus would be a conversation about debt management, creating jobs for millions of unemployed youth, skills development in the fourth industrial revolution to cope with emerging technologies as automation systems and artificial intelligence become mainstream in the private and public sectors.

The ultimate win would be a leadership that solves the ills bedeviling Kenyans such as high taxes, debt, uncompetitive business climate, and policies that limit wealth creation.

The country desperately needs a calm, vibrant and innovative leader who looks at the bigger picture and  ready to exemplify the honour that comes with the Office of the President and nothing less.

Elections are salient to democracy. Yes, it’s true a vibrant democracy such as Kenya should uphold the inference logic of accountable institutions, competitive party politics and periodic elections. But, these regular elections as per the Constitution should give Kenyans the desired results in the end.

Kenyans need to see elections as an opportunity to get accountable leadership. This clearly has been our greatest undoing as a people who elect representatives who make policies that affect our lives and our livelihoods. It is time to learn from past mistakes.

It’s also true that Kenya has been unable to satisfy the legitimate demands partly due to the insufficiency of resources available for distribution. But it is also true that the government has the capacity of distributing wealth to create opportunities to fully address the needs and desire of the people.

The 2022 elections will be a defining moment for the youth, a moment to overhaul Kenya’s political leadership in its entirety, time to re-imagine and reengineer a new political order.

Our collective responsibility as young Kenyans will be through our civic duty to elect an administration that is responsive to our unique needs. It would be unwise for any incoming administration to fail to consider the needs of the youth. They are informed, and they will vote you out.

Antony Nkuubi is an aspiring young leader

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