By Loise Wanjiku
“…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more,” Luke 12:48.
I was excited during my graduation last year; I mean who doesn’t? But my celebratory mood was short lived after it dawned on most of my classmates and I that we face a Sh. 5000 penalty for every month we fail to make a repayment of the HELB loans we acquired. So, we have a one-year grace period to start paying ASAP! Never mind graduates can take up to three-four years to land a job; and these are the lucky ones. Meaning if I am among the lucky ones I will start working with at least Sh.180, 000 fine from HELB that I need to offset before I begin paying my loan.
The Jubilee government is on the campaign trail asking for my votes and those of the other youth, yet my President failed to stand by us when he didn’t sign the Bill that would have protected us from these punitive HELB fines. This is a key issue for us youth, and we expected it to be important to anyone who claims to have our interests at heart. Worse still is some jobs require us to present a HELB clearance forms as if the three years’ experience requirement is not inconveniencing us enough.
Add the student loan debts to the national debt accrued by the government as a result of the much touted projects, and most of us end up looking like we’re 40 plus, when we’re barely even 30 years old. Every presidential aspirant right now is talking about creating jobs but are not telling us what Jubilee failed to do and how they’ll make it better. And while we’re on Jubilee, as the party sponsoring the incumbent; where are the one million jobs promised?
I know people who have their browsers bookmarking job websites and are exhausting their little savings by making trips to fake consultancy firms promising to work on their CVs to get them a job-any job worthwhile. Besides there’s easily available information confirming that the 30% of government procurement was set aside for the youth actually never got to the youth. Thanks to corruption and nepotism even opportunities that were earmarked for the (unfortunate) women ended up gobbled by otherwise, well networked and successful business women, some with relations to those in power. Yet poor women and youth in my backyard apply for these opportunities unsuccessfully.
Unto the Uhuruto duo, the youth gave their trust and support-I know I did, and consequently required much from them. The ‘Digital’ duo convinced us that their youthfulness meant they were better placed to deliver the youth mandate in 2013. The Jubilee team preyed on the young voters’ emotions. They knew how gullible and desperate the youth were for a change and so whenever they spoke, they said exactly what the young people wanted to hear. A million jobs, growth in the ICT sector, youth development fund and a piece of the government procurement pie just to mention a few. In retrospect, I feel the government gave the youth a lip service on nearly every grand promise they had for the youth.
Take the infamous NYS saga for instance; it was supposed to give young people a chance to help them maneuver this thing called life, but instead well connected folks outside the youth bracket leapt on the idea and looted it so much that every good story that should have come of it remains a mirage. Just like that, near billions of taxpayers’ money found their way into the pocket of corrupt tenderprenures working with the government-a government that claimed to have zero tolerance on corruption. Thanks to our appetite for politics the whole affair became politicized and perpetrators are just gallivanting scot-free. No one has been jailed!
We haven’t been shortchanged on employment issues only. A good chunk of the youth in Kenya make a living playing professional sports. It was therefore exciting when the government promised to build five Stadia to help not only nurture youth talent and therefore gainful employment but also strengthen sports in the country. Four and half years later what we have is a sorry statement from the government. “Plans are underway…priorities…blah..blah”, it’s the usual spin. We didn’t get the five Stadia promised, in its place we saw people old enough to have youthful children benefiting from corruption proceeds following the Kenya Olympics saga in 2016. It wasn’t enough stealing sporting kits; some athletes ended up stranded without Air tickets but people with no business were already on vacation mood in Rio at the expense of our athletes.
I can’t close my lamentations about the short end of the stick that the youth got the last five years without revisiting the Garissa attacks nearly two years ago. Those were my age mates who perished. The 2015 Easter holiday is an unforgettable one. Jesus wasn’t the only one who died that weekend. 147 other souls from the Garissa University did too, and unluckily for them, they didn’t rise from the dead after three days. Young promising lives were cut short by the Al-Shabaab militia. Whether it was part of their manifesto or not all 2013 candidates running for office knew we had boots in Somalia and there would be repercussions; and while we can’t blame them entirely, we have to point out that it revealed serious gaps in our security.
This time round as Jubilee and NASA comb every corner of this country making this promise and that promise to woo the youth; they must first tell us how they plan to fix security both internal and external. It’s pointless to promise the youth anything if Al-Shabaab or a Cattle rustler will cut short their life. Finally the youth will consider Jubilee or NASA promises based on not only their feasibility but also how binding these promises are in terms of the severity of the consequences should they fail.
This article is courtesy of Project Mchujo, running with the hashtag #ChujaSiasa