By Caroline Boyani
It is a delight when you pass by a group of youth discussing issues of importance such as climate change, advocacy, and governance. It warms my heart each time I see young people building each other, networking, and brainstorming to bring about positive change. We are quickly changing the narrative from being used for individual gain of a few people to growing a sensitive and conscious society.
Through training and empowerment, most youths can be able to analyze various government documents necessary for budgetary processsuch as budget circulars and budget briefs. They have the strength to stand up to their leaders and demand accountability for how every cent spent, and this is encouraging more people to be more aware of their responsibility in public governance.
Meshack, a youth delegate in Mla Leo, Mombasa County is an example to be emulated. He is a bridge between the elected leaders and the youth.” Whenever a public participation forum is to be held, I disseminate the information and mobilize as many people as I can with my fellow youth leaders” he explains. He explains how it takes more than just telling residents to come for public participation.
” We use various means; door-to-door sensitization, posters, and since communication channels have evolved, we have a WhatsApp group and other social media platforms where we share the information, ” he elaborates. Meshack adds that it is a challenge to convince people to leave their activities and sit down to discuss issues that they feel will not be addressed. ” There are times when people attend and raise concerns, the elected leaders present promise to do something but when you visit their offices after the estimated period, they ignore you or find excuses” he expresses his disappointment. “Such incidents make it hard to convince people that public participation is of importance or amounts to any change” he added.
He explained that to get leaders to act, commitment, and determination are key. ” You need to knock on their offices regularly and remind them of their incompetence without fear but in a respectful way,” Meshack declared. He also elaborated that the youth need creative ways of passing information.” The posters need to be attractive and incorporate art,” he advised.
When they encounter issues such as poor drainage, they take pictures and videos which they circulate on social media platforms and start petitions. This way with the issue in the public domain leaders is forced to take action. It is a collective responsibility to instigate accountability from our leaders and those elected to be in charge of the common good. Members of county assemblies, especially those that are in the youth bracket, this is your chance to prove your worth since four years down the line you might need to be reelected or be elected to a higher position.
The Bible says that those that can be trusted with little will be trusted with more, and if you are not careful and diligent, the same people that spent sleepless nights campaigning for you will do so against you in the coming elections. Youth delegates should embrace integrity and refuse to take bribes to look the other way when issues of importance are not addressed. Let not the power get into your system and forget the power in the masses. Our esteemed leaders if you refuse to change, change will knock you off your high horses.