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Fredrick Banja, Regional Director (East Africa) at APS – FINLAND

Fifth Estate

Focused youth, transformative leadership critical to sustainable development

By law, I officially crossed the legal age of the youths as prescribed by government about 3 years ago, that is age 35 years. Even though this happened, I still go through all the predicaments I used to undergo 10 years ago, and I would dare say that they are even worse now.

I’m now forced to play in the adults’ league for everything like tenders and any other opportunities. I can no longer use my Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) certificate for special category groups to get government tenders. I often face questions such as “whom do I know?”.

I can say that I have been fortunate enough, not because I knew people to help me out, but because since my childhood, I have never allowed my situation to dictate my future. I have always known what I want and what is good. I have learnt that failure has never been the opposite of success, but part of success.

My fellow youths, as someone rightly put it here, yes, we have been used and we have allowed ourselves to be used. We have glorified and kept glorifying leaders based on how much money they have, type of cars they drive and all the good things they have. Some of us go even further to praise them because they know how to buy alcohol and how much they got drunk the previous day.

We have failed to put our leaders to account and to ask them the hard questions of accountability.  We have forgotten that it’s the public resources that were meant to help us that they are using to bribe us.

The most painful bit is when we allow these crooked leaders to use us to bring our fellow youths down.

We need to have a paradigm shift and redeem ourselves. Can we prove to these leaders that it’s not going to be business as usual and that we are able to chart our own path and be part of the future? I am one of the people who is disappointed with the current crop of young leaders in parliament.  Most have opted to follow the path of sycophancy; choosing to defend the status quo.

Bondo Constituency where I come from for instance is endowed with everything that any economy would need to prosper. Be it water, minerals, agriculture, human resources and a youthful population.

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The only thing we lack is true leadership that can tap these resources and take our constituency forward. Leadership that is people-driven; leadership that is dynamic, sober and objective, transparent and accountable, transformative, leadership that offers real empowerment.

We need to promote education and entrepreneurship as well as innovation amongst our youths. We need to encourage and even enforce public participation. Civic education should be at the core of our activities so that we are aware of our civic duties.

Let us not put our personal interests ahead of the interest everyone.  Let us not glorify money, but let’s work hard to earn money which is an enabler to prosperity.  Let us not be idle because there is a lot we can do. Let us believe in ourselves and hold each other’s hand whenever we are.

Let us encourage entrepreneurship, a key to most of the problems we face today including unemployment. As a person who supports 6o jobs monthly, I can attest without a doubt that it is doable.

Fredrick Banja is the Regional Director (East Africa) at APS – FINLAND.

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