Articles

Embracing Public participation as a governance tool

By Caroline Boyani

A man who fails out of ignorance is different from one who fails because of inaccessibility to vital information regarding choices that will transform his life for the better or worse. A lot of information lies in our surroundings. It’s our responsibility to seek and utilize it for the desired change. Almost a year since the last national elections, and yet most of us fumble with words when asked if we understand the roles of the leaders we elected, starting from the member of county assembly at the grassroots. In addition, some of us voted for individuals we only saw twice or thrice, and to top it all, we did not vet them.

Civic education, unlike a decade ago, is readily accessible to those interested. Various non- governmental organizations have set aside resources to educate residents on their rights, the roles of various elected leaders, and measures to take in case of incompetence by the leaders. Understanding who is responsible for what will help focus on accountability and reduce the blame game. With the current state of the economy, some are glad they did not vote, while others reaped rewards, and others, their expectations were not met. Some voted for the handouts due to tribe and friendship, and others to make a change.

In one of the public participations I attended, some critical issues were raised and eloquently expressed. Youths comprised the most attendance, and their understanding of constitutional processes was admirable; they are today’s leaders since the future is obscure. They understand the importance of holding leaders accountable to their promises and speaking in one voice to condemn the manipulation of some leaders who are polite during campaigns but, once elected, disappear, ignoring problems the residents are going through.

The youth undergo hardships due to a lack of employment that traps them in drug abuse and violence. This menace cannot change the day and requires the participation of everyone in society. If they are impacted by skills and funds, they can be able to do something meaningful with their lives. While civil societies and the government can empower the youth, it’s their sole decision to ignore or make amends. Through art and creativity, one can explore their hobbies and talents, effecting change. While the chief was present, the elected leaders, such as the MCA, were not. These are vital opportunities they should take advantage of to assess their performance.

Individual effort is significant in the search for change. It would require you to take time to search, read and understand some of the legislative and budget documents to understand how money has been distributed and used. Let us not burden a few individuals to do the work; this should be a collective exercise. Joint efforts can bring about affirmative action and set standards for incoming leaders. We chose the leaders, but if we do not remind them that they have a role to play, that there is power in the masses and that we have read and understood legislation, they will forever drag us on the floor. Knowledge gives us power, unity gives us strength, and together, let us reclaim our cities and make decisions that the future generation will be grateful for.

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