Young MPs carry hopes of the youth

Monday September 11 2017

John Kiarie being sworn in as Dagoretti South MP

John Kiarie being sworn in as Dagoretti South MP in Parliament on August 31, 2017. Many Kenyans will be keen to see whether the youth will be the alternative leadership that the nation has, for decades, yearned for. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

More by this Author

Kenyans expect a lot from the 12th Parliament, given that they chose to try out ‘hot blood’ through the new crop of leaders whom they elected to the House.

The National Assembly, for instance, has many young legislators.

They include Babu Owino, Charles Njagua Kanyi, aka Jaguar, John Kiarie, alias KJ, John Paul Mwirigi and Ndindi Nyoro.

These politicians are expected to bring fresh perspectives into our governance system and a renewed sense of transformative leadership.

For a long time, the youth have lamented that leadership was in the hands of the ‘old guard’ who have run out of ideas.

This is an opportunity to test the mettle of the young people.

Many Kenyans will be keen to see whether the youth will be the alternative leadership that the nation has, for decades, yearned for.

It is also a time for the youth to disprove the older generation, who have always held them in low regard.

The young MPs represent the hopes, dreams and aspirations of Kenyan youth, who form the larger part of the population.

They also capture Kenya’s vision, which entails equal opportunities for everyone and access to good facilities by all Kenyans.

It is noteworthy that the MPs have endeared themselves to the people in unique ways.

Starehe MP Njagua, for instance, is a popular musician whose songs appeal to different ethnic and social strata.

Some of Jaguar’s songs, such as "Kigeugeu", highlight the ills in the society.

Dagoretti South voters chose former comedian Kiarie.

KJ was part of the satirical television show Reddykyulas, which united Kenyans and got people talking of his brilliance.

Igembe South MP Mwirigi is a cub, a lion in the making. At 23, he is the youngest in the House.

The university student is an embodiment of what is possible.

A man from humble means buoyed by the desire to serve, his dream has come true.

Kiharu MP Nyoro is an astute entrepreneur and former student leader.

Mr Owino, the new MP for Embakasi East, is a formidable force in his own right.

His captivating style of public speaking and other theatrics have earned him the national spotlight.

Mr Owino honed his leadership skills at the University of Nairobi, where he was a student leader.

When he was the student organisation Sonu’s chairman for three terms, he famously coined “Tibim” — a phrase that has become the Opposition’s catchword.

These young energetic MPs have their work clearly cut out for them.

For instance, graduates face a Sh5,000 penalty for every month they fail to repay their study loans from the State-run Helb.

They usually have a one-year grace period to start repaying the loan.

However, a majority of the graduates take up to four years to secure a job — and these are the lucky ones.

This is an issue of great concern to most youth, who expect Mr Owino, particularly, to ensure that the Bill that was meant to protect such graduates from the punitive Helb penalties is assented to by the President, having previously failed.

The young MPs should also constantly remind the government of the promise to grow the ICT sector, creation of a million jobs per year, improvement of the Youth Development Fund and more opportunities in public procurement.

Most of the Kenyan youth do not benefit from State tenders despite the government policy that at least 30 per cent of tenders be awarded to them.

Retirement age is another issue that requires proper dissection by the ‘Young Turks’.

At the moment, 1.2 million people are above 60 — the retirement age in Kenya — out of 44 million Kenyans.

According to the latest government statistics, the number is expected to reach 2.2 million in 10 years.

According to a Gallup poll, the average retirement age in the United States is 62 while the United Kingdom intends to raise theirs to 68.

This is pretty understandable, bearing in mind that the US and most of Europe do not have the the ‘youth bulge’ situation as in our case.

If our leaders can lower the retirement age to 55, that will open more opportunities for young Kenyans.

For all its youthful MPs, Kenyans hope that debate on the floor of the 12th Parliament will be more constructive, robust and captivating that ever before.

Mr Nkuubi is executive director, Governance Pillar Organisation, Nairobi. [email protected]