Dear politicians, discard your hollow promises to youths
The official campaign period for this year’s General Election kicked off this week and will end two days before the August 9 voting day. According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, campaigns will be taking place between 7 am and 6 pm on the said dates.
As the voting day draws near, the widespread phenomenon of voter inducement by politicians, mainly through bribes, is rife. Candidates are leveraging all the stops to win the support of the youth, who are already disillusioned with the empty promises that characterise our politics.
As a norm, politicians make numerous promises every election cycle but abandon them soon after they are elected, only to come back with another round of promises while seeking re-election five years later.
Given, that the youth — ages 18 to 35 years — is an essential part of the society, making up about 78.3 per cent of the national population.
They also fall in Living Standard Metrics 2 to 8, which means they rank lowly on the socio-economic scale and are often marginalised. This population makes up 51 per cent of registered voters.
This year, things are no different. With a youthful population with no meaningful source of income, several candidates have come out saying they’ll prioritise the youth agenda by creating jobs to crippling the unemployment crisis among many other countless issues that the youth face.
Youth unemployment stands at 22.2 per cent and will likely be a major deciding factor for youthful voters at the ballot box.
Already, politicians have started rallying the youth behind them with mouth-watering promises.
Deputy President and Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate William Ruto, for example, has promised to set aside Sh100 million for each of the 290 constituencies, to support small and medium-sized businesses that are managed by youth and women.
Former Premier and Azimio-One Kenya flagbearer Raila Odinga, on the other hand, has vowed to implement a social protection programme for poor youths by donating Sh6,000 every month to two million households that are considered most vulnerable.
Given the situation, thus, any promise to the youth means a lot to them and shouldn’t be made in vain.
The youth are thin-skinned to empty promises that are not fulfilled after leaders are sworn in. The Jubilee regime is coming to an end with lots of unfulfilled promises to the youth made in 2013 and 2017.
Their manifesto was the most broad-minded and ambitious with at least 10 big promises. Little has been implemented partly because of the party leadership infights.
The Kenyan youth will not stomach yet another round of empty promises. It’s high time politicians stopped promising what’s not deliverable. Let election promises be decent, honest and full of dignity.
Dear youth, assuming the promises will fruit, let’s vet the politicians who have presented their candidacies for election based on what they stand to offer before executing the patriotic duty of voting in August. This decision must transcend tribal and party politics.
Finally, let’s avoid falling prey to leaders who want to use us to ascend to power by giving false hope.
- The writer is a Communication and Media student at Rongo University