A worrying trend is taking shape in Kenya where young people do not understand that their plight is directly linked to governance, which they can influence through the ballot.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission failed to hit the numbers in the last two voter registration targeting new voters due to youth apathy.
Leaders take a lion’s share of this poor state of affairs. Politicians have rallied young people behind them during intense election campaigns with mouth-watering promises that they never fulfil once in office.
Things are not any different in this year’s campaigns in the wake of a burgeoning youthful population with no jobs and faced with dwindling economic fortunes. No candidate has come up with a radical agenda that gets to the root cause of the problems that confront the youth, enough to inspire them.
Instead, things have reached a point of desperation that most youths do not think the election matters anymore. They no longer believe that the polls will change their lives in any significant way.
Voter apathy is a protest vote by the youth. They have become conscious that there is a growing sense of betrayal by politicians who use them, including hiring them as goons and abandoning them once in power.
Initiatives to help the youth have faced hurdles, losing focus at some point due to a lack of commitment. Kibaki regime started the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, which was a good idea to support young entrepreneurs.
The fund has been dogged with corruption and lacks consistent leadership. The government, the biggest consumer, has also failed to integrate it into other components that help businesses to thrive such as providing a market.
The youth need to learn that shifting policies are the work of governance. So, they must step in to lead, govern and elect leaders who will create more opportunities for prosperity. They should mobilise and organise themselves as a critical constituency to engage in the electoral process and hold politicians accountable.