By Kennedy Odweyo
The Building Bridges Initiative report (BBI) needs not an ADS Rifle lense to see that it has sweetly offered a calabash of baits to the common youth(wo)man in Kenya. Its proposals to solving the problems of the youth are not only horrific but also intellectually dishonest and economically negating. It wholesomely and disrespectfully throws the youthful spirit into ramshackle. It extremely baffles the mind how casually the document has addressed the youthful agenda while strengthening the already existing political establishments that have always been larger thorns in the very flesh of youthful existence.
The Kenyan post-colonial establishments had represented youths as ‘slaves’ to the negatively exploitative political elites. This took strong grounds until when genuine conversations on the place of youths in matters governance began. The inception of the Kenyan constitution 2010, which is the most legitimate and progressive national charter, brought an almost full glimpse of hope into the youthful world. It empowered youths in the broader aspects of matters governance and leadership, something that has seen the then politically impoverished youths getting incorporated in matters of national development and decision making.
“The Building bridges to a United Kenya Initiative”, as it is being fraudulently sold to the gullibly tribalistic and “poli-intellectually shy” Kenyans, has wholesomely aggrandized power to the bourgeois by expanding the already overexpanded executive and legislature. This has greatly chauffeured the youth agenda under the tables of leadership. That today’s minority youth group, The Graduates, will be given a grace period of 4 years before they commence the repayment of their near inconsequential expensive government educational loans and a tax holiday for those (very few) who are venturing into meaningful business enterprises and investments greatly baffles any sound mind. Indeed, these proposals have portrayed the Kenyan youths as a ‘mere collection of desperate people’ who best survive on enticing and enslaving political freebies. The initiative has failed to mitigate on proposals to solve the lifelong youth problem of poverty and socioeconomic desperation occasioned by their en masse unemployment and financial incapacitation to venture into meaningful businesses.
The negatively opportunistic elites have instead proposed for themselves a conduit to strengthen their preferred political establishments while leaving out youths convulsing in abject poverty and as mere organic members of their nationality. The BBI has sufficiently addressed the challenges facing the few elite youths while fully dodging out the plight and challenges faced by millions of common youths whose major inheritances are in their peasantry.
Consequent to that, I substantively opine that the tremendous efforts made by the 2010 constitution in empowering the youthful generation in Kenya are under immense threat by the BBI bandwagoners whose main aim is to marginalize the youths further so that they continue to manipulate the desperate youths and continually use them as political weapons to enable them to achieve their personal and “tribal” political goals, as has been the case. The Kenyan Constitution 2010 has up to date been pro-youth and every Kenyan at large.
My thoughts on BBI
- Let the BBI give proposals on how to rebrand, revive and empower the National Youth Council (NYC) that will be independent of political influence and manipulation; instead of creating a toothless to be Youth Commission.
- Let the BBI address the massive youth unemployment by constituting an employment portal with a full database of all graduates easily accessible by the government and other employers.
- Let the BBI give proposals on educational grants to university and college students from poor backgrounds, sufficiently fund research in institutions of higher learning and pass laws and policies to guarantee paid internships for all fresh graduates; instead of conditional loans with hefty interest rates in the name of HELB.
- Let the BBI propose the issuance of meaningful, affordable and accessible business loans to young entrepreneurs to start meaningful businesses and further their innovations, as opposed to the informal peanuts being offered for “mama mboga like ventures”.
Most Importantly, if the Deputy Governor is of the opposite sex, why not have a 2nd Deputy Governor slot in all the 47 counties for youths? It’s possible, isn’t it? Super possible.