Kisumu County youth have been urged to promote peace as the country gears towards the August 9th general election.
The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) CEO Victor Okioma called on the young people to stay awake and shun politicians who use them to perpetrate violence during the campaign season.
Okioma was speaking in Kisumu in a meeting with youth leaders in a forum dubbed the Sauti Yetu Youth for Peace which aims at promoting peaceful elections devoid of alcohol and drug abuse.
Alcoholism and drug misuse, he stated, fuels criminal activities and is the main reason youths engage in election violence and get exploited as agents of destruction by some candidates.
The peace forum is sponsored by NACADA in partnership with the Ministry Of Interior and Coordination of National Government, National Youth Council, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and Youth Enterprise Development Fund is moving around selected counties to advocate for an election process that is free from conflict and violence.
“We are engaging the youth leaders from Kisumu to persuade them to be champions of peace during the electioneering period,” said the CEO.
The forum brought together over 500 youth leaders drawn from all the sub counties in Kisumu, local administration and youth serving agencies with the objective of empowering the young generation with information to foster a more significant commitment to peaceful elections, and increase their participation in the forthcoming polls.
Okioma revealed the team has also taken similar campaigns to Nyamira, Eldoret and Kericho Counties.
In addition, they will also meet youth leaders in the Central and Coast regions, targeting areas earmarked as potential hotspots for violence by the NCIC.
He pleaded with the young people to be patriots and refrain from falling into the traps of political aspirants who target the youth to perpetrate violence.
“We have called for this youth leadership engagement meeting because we want to hear from you, we want to know the challenges you are facing and how we can work together to enhance your economic and social well-being,” said Okioma.
Seme Deputy County Commissioner William Ngochila who represented Kisumu County Commissioner Josephine Ouko at the event reiterated the need for the youth to shun violence during elections.
“Many young Kenyans are being used by politicians due to influence of money, drugs, alcohol and are then used as a catalyst to cause chaos,” he observed.
Ngochila further cautioned locals against taking advantage of the campaign period to commit crimes in the area.
He disclosed that the County had witnessed many cattle rustling and armed robberies in Muhoroni and Nyakach areas.
At the same time, he urged the aggrieved contestants with grievances relating to the electoral process to move to the courts and avoid using the youth to disrupt the peace of mwananchi.
He said the county has put in place robust security operators to oversee a peaceful election process and called on the voters to come out to exercise their democratic right.
“Do not go to the streets demonstrating for the sake of a politician instead let them seek legal redress in courts of law. Your role is to vote and go back home to undertake your normal duties as you wait for the outcome,” he stated.
The peace forum was also attended by the NACADA board Chairperson Prof Mabel Imbuga, Director Luo Nyanza region Dr George Ogalo and Esther Okenye, NACADA Nyanza regional manager.