Mt Kenya: The emergence of young leaders changing political discourse

Some of the emerging young politicians from the Mt Kenya region. [File, Standard]

The 2022 general elections bore the emergence of young leaders who have utilized the year ending in changing the political discourse of the Mt Kenya region and taking on the leadership arena by storm.

The young turks who have publicly announced that they are political mentees of President William Ruto and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua, believe the two leaders have guided them in the right direction into being the new crop of leaders and breaking the rhetoric they are the leaders of tomorrow.

Among the young leaders who praise the President and his Deputy for supporting their political journey include MPs Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), National Assembly Majority leader Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu), Njeri Maina (Kirinyaga), John Methu (Nyandarua) among others.

The youthful leaders have been vocal in the Mt Kenya region and have been driving the key messages of their top two leaders of the country.

Nyoro, in a past interview, explained how the President became his mentor when it proved difficult for him to reach out to former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

According to Nyoro who is touted to be among members of the president’s kitchen cabinet, his relationship with him started when he was seeking a top position in the National Assembly committee and needed Uhuru’s influence or his handlers'.

He claimed he tried in vain to reach out to Uhuru and his handlers.

“By then I did not know Dr. Ruto, then Deputy President, and we had not met, but I decided to try and send him a text message and he called immediately,” he said.

Although he did not get what he wanted, he got a mentor out of it and their friendship with Dr. Ruto started.

“I needed a mentor to guide me. I could not read about Uhuru in books to learn politics, mentorship happens by being practical and Dr. Ruto was the man,” he said.

The Deputy President is also on record claiming that they are mentoring young leaders to avert a situation of a political vacuum in the country.

“As a region, we have had a problem because there was no one who mentored the young. Some of us have come into these positions because nature abhors a vacuum and not because there was a deliberate effort to create clear succession plans in leadership,” he stated.

Nyandarua senator is among the young leaders who have been accompanying the DP in his early morning trek and said he is a beneficiary of the DP’s mentorship.

“We are happy that the Deputy President has found it in his heart to mentor us. He is like a parent to us and we appreciate that he has taken time to teach us the ways of our people and critical traits in leadership such as humility and servant leadership.”

On his part, Kiambu senator Karungu Thangwa said the DP had set an example worth emulating for young elected leaders.

“He has shown us the way. This is the first time that this country is having leaders who are thinking about the leaders of tomorrow,” Senator Thangwa said.

Other leaders who said they are beneficiaries of the President and Deputy President’s mentorship include East African Legislative Assembly Maina Karobia, and Mathira MP Eric Wamumbi. Ruto and his deputy played an integral part in their nomination and election to parliament respectively.

“The two leaders played a significant part in my nomination and before that, they had mentored me for five years where I worked under their close supervision,” Karobia who was among the youthful leaders in Kenya Kwanza’s frontline campaign said.

He said that fully aware that the success of any leadership is in the mentorship of the youth into better leaders, the country's top leadership has decided to walk together with the youthful leaders.

Wa Mumbi who was Konyu MCA before the Deputy President supported him to replace him as Mathira MP after he was nominated as Dr. Ruto’s running mate, said the two leaders have shown that the youth also have a space in today's leadership. 

“I take pride in the leadership of the country for holding my hand, before they rose to power, the only meaningful assignment to the youth was to consolidate votes and to the worst used in causing chaos and violence but the two have departed from that to holding and supporting us into becoming leaders,” he said.

The young leaders believe other than the political support by the country’s top leadership, their leadership compared to that of the old guards in politics has been responsive and committed to serving their electorate in a bid to maintain their elective posts in future elections. 

"Leadership is a trustee given by the electorate and since we fully understand that, that is why we don't take our positions in vain. Unlike the former crop of leaders who were not accessible to their people you will find that the current ones don't take their positions for granted," Karobia said. 

According to Karobia, the move by the youthful leaders to keep close to their electorate was because they learned that even the big names have been ousted by their electorate despite their deep pockets.

"We have learned that looking for money will not keep you in the elective positions but working for the electorate," he said. 

To the Kirinyaga Women Representative, young leaders have learned to be relevant politically, in parliament, and on the ground, a move she noted was taking her in the right direction. 

"It is not always being in political podiums that is assisting some of us but balancing that with service delivery, for instance in less than a year, I have lobbied for power connection under the last mile connectivity program to an approved tune of Sh50 million," she said. 

Pundits believe Dr. Ruto’s move seeks to ensure that unlike his predecessor who was accused of failing to tighten the grip of his region, by picking the youth, the president will not face rebellion which would be propagated by the youthful leaders for his absence in the political scene.

“By being close to the young leaders and picking them to drive their agenda, the President and his Deputy ensure that there is no gap and vacuum which could be felt by the youthful leaders and pass on resentment to the electorate,” Charles Njoroge, a political analyst said.

In Nyanza, the President has picked a youthful Raymond Omollo as PS Interior with a huge docket which may be used as bait to the youth who have always supported opposition chief Raila Odinga.