It is always great pleasure meeting country and world leaders, at least for me and maybe a few others. I watch with fascination as President Obama of the United States of America travels around the country holding county hall debates, giving a speech at an industrial plant addressing economic and employment issues and such. I watch Prime Minister Cameron of the Great Britain address caucuses of students and professionals over one issue or another. Closer home, President Paul Kagame does quite a marvelous job engaging people; he has done that quite well even coming to Nairobi for Aly Khan Satchu’s Mind Speak. It has become interactive as such and any modern world leaders are embracing the trend… Even royalties these days get to attend such public events with interest in mingling and listening as they give answers to random citizens; Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge did that a little while ago on a trip to Canada and the Americas. So, where am I going with this?
A week or so ago, a few people had the opportunity to have dinner with our Prime Minister, Odinga. I will not say much about that, I never realized an opportunity to attend. The same week I got an invite to attend a cocktail. I saw a tweet asking those who’d have something to ask the Vice President, Musyoka to fill in. I did, I filled in a couple things I wanted him to answer; his prospectus, manifesto if you like if he became President in the next Election. Specific details were on his Economic Planning, his Development agenda and more specifically how he plans to realize such agenda with reference to Development Financial Agencies that have been ignored by The Treasury or down ridden by some public officials here and there. What he intends to do with the semi-autonomous bodies they establish every after an election year to ‘distribute’ wealth and channel development funds; Youth Fund, Women Fund… I felt honored when I was called to collect my card, for the card only affair. To be kind, the forum was very unfriendly to ask such kind of questions and the VP was not prepared to give any meaningful feedback for the lets say serious questions. The speech was definitely a VERY BAD IDEA and the moderation taking the chance to question a participant’s timeline activity was very ill informed.
While I want to believe that this is a good initiative, it still is very difficult to think much of our politicians at this point. 2012 is an election year; they have had all the time to interact and get to know what the youth and young professionals are all about. They have had extensive opportunities to not just sell us their policies and their plans but to also inform us of what they have been doing in office for years. This as we all know, is just a way to extend their populism towards the election year, doing everything possible to reach anyone and everyone in every window of opportunity to win a vote. It’s not a bad thing; I’d probably do something similar to realize my objectives. The question is what can be done differently to hold these guys accountable? What forums will give us maximum opportunity to question, evaluate and discuss issues that are pertinent not just to tweeps and such kind but to the nation as a whole, every constituent? Who is best placed to moderate such forums seeing as moderation of the last such meeting was quite mmmmh, a disaster? What can we borrow from those who’ve done this better before?
- Moderation; a seasoned interviewer and moderator is critical to realize balance and to maximize on the opportunity for accountability by the candidates. Someone like John Sibi Okumu
- Partnerships; everyone wants to do the same thing, differently. Why not just put resources (financial and logistics) together and have a common goal. With every other entity being linked to one candidate/ group or another, it will be easier if such arrangement was in place.
- Environment; It is important to have these meetings in a place that is comfortable and one that provides room for such critical questions to be asked. A cocktail for sure will never realize such an objective. Someone say Town hall setting with live streaming on-line or on TV with various interests represented.
- Awareness; grouping up a few people, mostly friends to attend such an affair will not realize desired good. Creating awareness and selecting individuals who either represent interests across the board or those with understanding of issues in their areas of question to attend can help all of us understand or be informed better.
It is still very early, there is still room to learn and do this right. Those who have tried it definitely have points of learning and will probably do better. There is a lot I could jot down but this sort of gives a glimpse of what my opinion is… Bite me!
In case that doesn’t happen, I will remain content with my one time opportunity being handed a packet of milk by the former President at a School competition gala.
Till Then, Cheers!