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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Are NEP's Youthful Leaders Engaging in Premature Triumphalism?

 I pose this question because The Standard's Boniface Ongeri & Isaiah Lucheli wrote a piece titled "Youthful Leaders Have Grand Plans for NEP."

Given that elections are a little over a year away, Somalis in NEP must now decide what sort of counties they want to live in. We could go on with the status-quo and remain retrogressive  in every economic and social indicator. Or, we could free ourselves from the shackles of clanism and actively set about creating the sort of society that other Kenyans envy and want emulate.

Great Societies are created by, among other things, the coming together of civic groups, educated youths, philanthropists and governments dedicated to working for their people. And for NEP, given all the decentralization the new constitution affords us, this is surely the moment. The chemistry is right.

What then is needed to get the chemistry going? We need educated leadership whose sole interest is driving up economic growth, reducing red tape and appropriating development funds where they will yield the best results while offering citizens the most convenience. Above all, we need leadership that will foster a sense of self confidence in Somalis and attract financial investment in our livestock industry and farmland along  The Tana. We need leaders who will promote education over illiteracy, self-sufficiency over perpetual dependence, cohesion over disenfranchisement and most importantly leadership that takes advantage of our religious, cultural and lingual homogeneity instead of dividing us into clans and sub-clans.

What we don't need is another politician who talks big but thinks small and our leaders have been the worst offenders when it comes to this.The season of aggrandizing politicians and derelict citizenry should be over.   Our current political leaders, with notable exceptions, are perhaps the least impressive in Kenya. They are pathologically incapable of seeing the big picture. Evermore relying on connections and bribery to maintain their seats while delivering nothing. They never preach self sufficiency or urge the Somali investor class to build their home province instead of putting billions into Eastleigh  and never bring to the floor legislation of any significance.

In the past ten years, Garissa has come far but we are still unable to take pride in our achievements because many of us consider them an ascent from jaw-dropping badness to mere mediocrity. This is why, I am pro-youthful leadership and an end to our decadent political system.However, for all the talk of "youthful" leadership, I have to say, besides Abdikadir Mohammed of Mandera, I'm yet to be impressed by any the so called youths. Garissa's mayor has been a big turn off for a lot people and has seriously undermined the youth agenda. His self-confidence has tipped into insouciance and neglect of duty. While he is not evil intentioned, most of his administration has been plagued by incompetence. Even failing in things as mundane as garbage collection.

The Standard quotes Khalif Abdi who gave an accurate diagnosis of why enthusiasm for youthful leadership is waning.

Some residents say certain youth elected into leadership roles have failed to meet expectations."They had the opportunity to prove to the skeptics that they were up to the challenge but some have been a big disappointment and embarrassment to the youth fraternity," Khalif Abdi Farah, the coordinator of Northern Forum for Democracy said.Khalif explains the difference between the old guard and the youth was that the elderly leaders were easily accessible and selfless, but the youth were selfish and poor managers."Some of the youthful leaders are already under probe for misuse of funds while others have accumulated questionable wealth and are living beyond their paltry pay," Khalif added

In conclusion, even though this is a boon time for youthful leaders, I would urge those seeking positions of power to not succumb to premature triumphalism. Pay attention to detail, convince us you are the right people for elected office, articulate your views without pandering to clan overlords, come up with manifestos that will get us drooling and go above and beyond in courting the votes of elders and youths alike. Finally, make sure you are educated and have an impeccable record as far as personal integrity is concerned. Trust me, nobody wants to unleash a bunch of half baked, khat addled youngsters on the public. If it means seeking non-glamorous positions such as becoming a councilor to gain legislative experience, do so. You'll be all the better for it! 

That's my two cents worth! 

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