Why the Kenyan youth should reject BBI proposals

Monday, January 11th, 2021 00:00 | By
President Uhuru Kenyatta receives the BBI report from the taskforce vice chair Adams Oloo at Kisii State Lodge on Wednesday. With them is ODM party leader Raila Odinga. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Kennedy Odweyo  

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is in the process of verifying signatures on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) document, that proposes a number of constitutional changes ahead of a possible referendum by June.

But as they do this, debate rages on whether Kenya really needs constitutional changes at a time when the country is faced with a myriad of challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic that has grounded the economy.

Those in the BBI corner insist it is the solution to the perennial post-election chaos witnessed in Kenya every five years, while its opponents say it is not a priority, given the problems the country faces.

However, for the Kenyan youth, it is hard to see how the BBI proposals solve the many problems that afflict their lot. 

The document casually addressees the youth agenda while strengthening the existing political establishment that has been a thorn in the flesh of young people for years.

It is for this reason that I believe the tremendous efforts made by the Constitution of Kenya 2010 in empowering the Kenyan youth are under threat from BBI proponents, whose main aim is to further marginalise this group so that they continue to use and manipulate them for political gain.

This is why I urge every Kenyan youth to reject the document since it has not addressed our concerns such as; giving proposals on how to revive and empower the National Youth Council, that will be independent of political influence, instead of creating a toothless Youth Commission that will still be subject to the usual political manipulation. 

It is not addressing the massive youth unemployment by constituting an employment portal with a full database of all graduates easily accessible by the government and other employers.

It is not giving proposals on educational grants to university and college students from poor backgrounds. 

It is not sufficiently funding research in institutions of higher learning and passing laws to guarantee paid internships for fresh graduates instead of conditional loans with hefty interest rates.

It should propose the issuance of meaningful, affordable and accessible business loans to young entrepreneurs to start businesses, as opposed to informal peanuts being offered for ‘Mama Mboga like ventures’. 

If the Deputy Governor is of the opposite sex, why not have a second deputy governor’s slot in the 47 counties for the youth? 

It’s possible, isn’t it? 

— The writer is a political strategist at Youth Senate Kenya [email protected]

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