The quite famous mantra, ‘youths are the leaders of tomorrow’, has been on repeat for years immemorial. What the young people tend to forget, however, is that leadership starts by practicing your democratic right as a citizen of a state.
According to the 2019 Census by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the population of youths dangled at 75% of the 47.6 million total population. This means that 35.7 million Kenyans are below the age of 35 years.
Over the years, there have been policy gaps in youth participation in general elections. The gaps, most times, are linked to the usual trend of youths being secluded from formal political processes.
Leaders voted in are all dependent on the votes of the people. The democratic nature is set up in a manner that the people have the power to qualify and disqualify a leader they find fit or beat, respectively.
Having that the youth are the largest demographic group, their participation in general elections means a lot. Their votes count, for they are the young people who will highly benefit from the elected government. In the 2017 general election, 9.9 million out of the 19.6 million registered voters were youths. That was relatively a good participation.
Young people have the right to vote. It is through voting in a good leader that development and economic growth will be felt. It is also through that democratic act that youths will have a voice in the political processes in the country.
There are copious issues that young people face that need leaders who represent them well in the government. Unemployment, sustainable opportunities and quality education is just tip of the iceberg.
The youth have the power in their hands to make the changes they need in their dear country. And that is through participating in the voting for good leaders. The right-to-vote privilege bestowed to each one of us by the constitution of Kenya makes it easier to impact the change we need in our society.
We will only have ourselves to blame when we don’t vote and end up having leaders who hardly instill political, social or economic escalation in the country. The perfect time to save ourselves from that regret is by casting our votes on Tuesday.
The system could have all sorts of potholes, but youths still remain to be the leaders of tomorrow. Youths need to go back to the drawing board and collect their voices in the political arena. That is the only way the potholes will be fixed, the only way corruption will be flashed out and the only way the issues facing the youths will be rectified.
Employment has been the biggest horror for graduates for the longest time. Despite programs such as ‘kazi kwa vijana’ and NYS being in place to help curb the beast, corruption still finds its way to ruin the chances.
The big question will knock again, how can the change be done? Simple, pick up the button and select leaders who are rather selfless and ready to create opportunities for young people.
The change we need is wrapped in the vote we shall cast on Tuesday. Being the leader of tomorrow is more than just a phrase. It starts by casting that vote so that by the time you hit the threshold to lead, the system will be transparent, accountable and equal for all.
Sam Oduor is the editor-in-chief at the Western Kenya Times who leverages the power of the Internet in telling stories that shape opinions.