The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in collaboration with the University of Nairobi and College Students’ Peace Association of Kenya (UCSPAK) officially launched the students’ voter registration drive.
Students in institutions of higher learning can now register as voters from their respective campuses, and vote at their preferred polling station in the general elections 2022. The purpose of this drive is to increase youth participation in political processes by engaging them in institutions of higher learning at an early stage.
This launch follows a commitment by UoN and IEBC at the first national students’ convention on youth, peace and elections that IEBC would set up tents in all UoN campuses so that students are duly registered. The students’ voter registration drive aims to engage about two million youth across the country to be peace ambassadors who advocate for what they believe in by utilizing the power of the ballot.
“As we implement this move, despite the fact that most of our students were issued with national identification cards recently as they were joining the University, a significant number of them, who are potential voters are holding waiting cards. This is a challenge that requires urgent solution and it is my sincere hope that they will have received their national identity cards before the voters’ registration exercise is concluded,” noted the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Ephraim Wahome who was representing the Vice-Chancellor, University of Nairobi, Prof. Stephen Kiama.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer, IEBC, Mr. Marjan Hussein expressed sentiments on the importance of the youth turning up and registering as voters and not being swayed by politicians to do their bidding.
“Our targeted voters are actually the youth; we are talking about a target of 6 million, and 4.5 million are those who have been issued IDs.”
The Commission for University Education, Prof. Chacha Nyaigotti Chacha, emphasized the importance of Kenyans not denying themselves the right to participate in the political sphere.
“It is our responsibility to make decisions through our voter’s card. It is our civic duty to make sure than when we turn 18 we get an ID. When you have an ID, it is your civic duty to make sure that you register as a voter,” he said.
Sam Kona, a Commissioner at the Nation Cohesion and Integration Commission noted that the time for the youth to be heard was neigh.
“The future of Kenya just like everywhere in the world is in the youth. The future of our democracy is in the youth and technology. This exercise has to mark the beginning of young people making their voice and their vote count at all levels of elections in Kenya from the lowest to the highest,” noted Kona.
On her part the Registrar of Political Parties, Ms. Anne Nderitu, expressed concerns over the low number of youth that participate in political parties. She hopes to bring the youth in the political parties to participate in a better way.
“When we are looking at compliance of political parties, we get very concerned. Out of a register of 18 million people who have registered as political party members, only about 7 million are youth yet the population of young people is higher than that of the older people,” she revealed.
Ms. Nderitu said that plans were underway to add the registration of political parties onto the e-citizen platform in order to make it easier for Kenyans to register their parties.
George Reagan, Governor, University of Nairobi Students Association reminded students to be each other’s keep when it comes to exercising their civic duties.
“I want to call upon every individual here to come out, if you have registered as a voter as I have please engage the freshmen, let us engage in civic education. We have the mental capacity to assess the people who will come to us to sell their agendas,” he said.
Initiatives like the students’ voter registration are integral in ensuring political accountability and quality service delivery. All the citizens in Kenya including the youth should promote peace in a bid to enhance the development of this nation.