ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs CS Joe Mucheru has challenged the youth to engage themselves fully in peace building efforts for the sake of national development.
Speaking in Migori where he graced the second National Student Convention on Youth, Peace and Election at Mabera Technical and Vocational College, Kuria West Sub County, Mucheru noted that the country cannot develop if there was no peace.
The CS called on the young people to take advantage of their numerical strength and make a difference in the country by preaching peace and unity rather than politics of division.
He further underscored the role universities and colleges were playing in propagating peace and unity in the country through their Universities and Colleges Students’ Peace Association of Kenya (UCSPAK).
Mucheru affirmed that the association had created a platform for peace in institutions of higher learning to ensure that youths have a voice, adding that without peace and mutual interaction from the youth fraternity, the country cannot move forward.
“In the past, peace and university students could rarely be mentioned in the same breath. Indeed, change has happened,” he said.
At the same time, Mucheru asked the youth to seek elective positions to enable them embark on a journey of making meaningful gains for themselves and the country.
“As I have stated earlier, you have the largest stake in this country as you constitute 75.1 per cent of our population,” he added.
The CS also hailed the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) for funding the noble initiative, saying it was an affirmation and acknowledgement of the important role the youth continues to play in the nation building.
Universities have been referred to as the melting pots of culture, said the CS, explaining that UCSPAK has brought on board various youth across the country and enabled them to blend culturally and socially.
He added that the convention will enable the youth to develop different viable resolutions, which would be key in the fourth coming general election.
The CS said he was looking forward to having the action plan emanating from the forum for consideration, planning and eventual implementation for the betterment of the Kenyan youth.
Mucheru pointed out that the 2010 Constitution opened up space of political freedom that youth should utilize for their better tomorrow.
“Youths in the past have been used for political scores but I am happy to say that the youth today are elites who are able change their destiny through voting for capable leaders, he added.
Mucheru noted that youths tend to suffer the most when violence occurs, thus he impressed upon the young people be the ambassadors of peace and utilize their numbers to elect their fellow youth.
At the same time, the CS acknowledged government programmes such as the Kenya Youth Empowerment Opportunities Project (KYEOP) and Ajira Digital that are geared towards empowering the youth and women countrywide.
He said that youth will continue to be supported in order to maximize on their potential and become the country’s pillar of economic development.
Speaking at the same event, the Chairman of the Commission for University Education (CUE), Prof Chacha Nyaigoti Chacha, said the youth must prioritize peace in their life and guard against being used by politicians to cause chaos during the electioneering period.
Prof Chacha urged the youth to register as voters in large numbers in order to participate in choosing good leaders for the country.
On his part, The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Dr Stephen Jackson, said that it was a human right of every young person to be empowered so that he/she can have a positive contribution for change.
He acknowledged that elections have changed the world and it’s only through peaceful polls that meaningful change can be realized.
Dr Jackson noted that many young people are trapped by unemployment aspect and end up being manipulated easily by politicians into violence and crime.
The coordinator urged the youth to always have hope and utilize every small opportunity presented to them.
He called on youths to register as voters because elections can only happen if there are voters.
Dr Jackson specifically encouraged youth leaders to mobilize their fellow youth to register and vote.
He noted that Kenya needed a peaceful transition and the youth were the vaccine for the peaceful progression. The UN official said that youths are the ones that will determine their future through better transformation, radical and peaceful elections.
He said that the UN will be at every step to ensure that they walk with the country to have peaceful elections.
The Chairperson of the Kenya University Dean of Student Association, (KUDA), Mr Mohamed Adan, asked the youth leaders to mobilize their fellow youths to take up the responsibility of registering.
Adan who is also the Dean of Students at Masai Mara University noted that the youth should stand up and register in order to surpass the IEBC set targeted.
In attendance was the IEBC Director for Migori County, Charles Mutai, who said that youths make up 75 percent of the population and therefore can shape the destiny of the county.
Mutai who was representing the IEBC Chairperson, Wafula Chebukati, called upon all the stakeholders to join hands in ensuring that youths register as voters.
He noted that the IEBC had invested a lot of money but youths were still reluctant to come out in large numbers to register.
The IEBC Coordinator called upon all the stakeholders especially the political class to come out and enlighten the youth on the importance of voting.
The forum was also graced by the Migori County Commissioner, Michael Mwangi Meru, and Kuria West MP, Mathias Robi, among other senior government officials.
By George Agimba and Geoffrey Makokha