By Nathan Kiplang’at and Simon Jillo
A former Egerton University student leader has urged students aspiring to vie in the forthcoming student elections to sell viable agenda during their campaigns.
Joseph Githinji who served twice in the Student Union of Egerton University (SUEU) at the university’s Nakuru Town Campus College (NTCC) observed that there has been a trend in which aspirants present unrealistic manifestos during their campaigns and which become difficult to achieve once elected.
“You need to tell them (students) what can be done and what can’t be done,” he advised the aspirants.
Githinji’s advice comes barely two weeks before students elect new leaders at the university and at a time when the aspirants are busy wooing voters. He urges that they should conduct themselves well as they sell their agenda.
“Beat your competitors with ideas, do not smear them with propaganda,”
he said while cautioning against voting along tribal lines.
“Play with your tribal thing (sic) but ensure you have something for everyone,”
the 30 year old who works as a volunteer at Egerton Radio said.
Githinji became a student leader in 2011 when he was elected as the Director Students Welfare. In 2012 he was elected as the Secretary General, a position he served for one year. For years now he has been serving as a leader in his church – Seventh Day Adventist – at the University’s branch where he has been a church elder.
He advises that student leaders should balance between leadership roles and their academics.
“Be responsible and do it well because someone depends on the decisions you make,”
he said while adding that when he became a leader he was able to balance the two thereby improving his academic performance.
The students’ elections will be held on October 30 with a total number of 9 seats being contested. For the first time 3 seats – the Director Finance, Organizing Secretary and Director Health and Wellness – have been exclusively set aside for female students. It will be noted that the seat of the Chairman and that of the Secretary General are the ones that are highly contested.
Githinji has cautioned leaders not to think that the student leadership is a bed of roses.
“Once you decide to a be a leader expect challenges. Students want your service all the time forgetting that you also need your own time to study.”
“Students think that you are paid a lot of money and they expect you to buy them lunch whenever you meet them.”
University politics have been a breeding ground for persons wishing to join national politics. Among those who have been student leaders and have ended up being leaders at the national arena include, Siaya Senator James Orengo and Gatundu South M.P Moses Kuria who were leaders at the University of Nairobi. Others include Nandi Hills M.P. Alfred Keter and Cecile Mbarire who were leaders at Egerton University.
Githinji however says he has never admired joining national politics. He said a while back he was requested by youth from his village in Eldama Ravine to vie for the seat of Member of County Assembly but he declined fearing it would deny him privacy.
Generally he advises Kenyans to always be voting wisely every time there is an election arguing Kenyans are to blame for the election of poor leaders.
“During elections many Kenyans leave their brains at home,” he said urging for a change.