Youths Are Leaders Today, Not Tomorrow: Saneem

“Every registered voter needs to be aware of their rights and their responsibilities to exercise their voting rights,” Professor Kundra said.
11 Aug 2022 10:23
Youths Are Leaders Today,  Not Tomorrow: Saneem
From left: Jerry Wong of Fiji National University (FNU), Fijian Elections Office Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem, UNDP effective governance team leader Revai Aalbaek, and British High Commissioner to Fiji, Dr Brian Jones, during the launching of FNU’s Youth Voter and Elections Education Project at the Nasinu Campus on August 10, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem disagrees with the phrase ‘youths are leaders of tomorrow’ but rather ‘youths should be leaders from today’. Mr Saneem was speaking at the launch of the Fiji National University’s (FNU) ‘Youth Voter and Election Education Project’ yesterday.


About The Launch

The University launched their Youth Voter and Election education project with the aim to provide election-related information for its scholars.

Associate Dean Research for the college of Humanities and Education, Professor Sakul Kundra said the initiative ventured by the University, Fijian Elections office and United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific office is one that exists to educate students about the election process.

Professor Kundra said the responsibility of casting votes is on every citizen, especially the youths who have recently become eligible to exercise their right to vote.

“Every registered voter needs to be aware of their rights and their responsibilities to exercise their voting rights,” Professor Kundra said.


“FNU faculty, with expertise in relation to governance have taken the lead in conducting this workshop around FNU campuses, informing youth about voting processes and implications.”

“That is where it should start,” Mr Saneem said as he continued his impassioned speech.

“I also disagree with the phrase that we need to train the youths to be leaders, but I think you need to learn from the youths to be leaders.”

Mr Saneem said youth’s perspectives were such that senior people might have not thought of them because they were not youths.

Similarly, he said when he became the Supervisor of Elections there were questions raised regarding the legitimacy of his selection.

“I’d like to share with you what it takes to be at the helm of a ship when you are young,” he said. “People went to the media and said he (Saneem) can’t do it, leaders of many Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) stood up and said he’s too young and immature.”


To The Youths

Mr Saneem said that youths must not let experience be a barrier to things they could achieve. He said the 2018 General Election was the first time the Fijian Elections Office delivered real-time results, which was designed by a 27-year-old.

“The app is still working, it doesn’t mean that the person has to be old to get the job done, I think it is just the mentality that needs to become young again to get the job done,” he said.

Mr Saneem said: In 2016, he had a meeting with senior consultants about his idea for the elections office to venture into electronic recruitment for the 2018 General Elections.


He was advised at the time that it was impossible, and that it was not a good idea.

“The Fijian Elections Office recruited 11,000 staff for 2018 general elections on the software.”

“For the 2022 General Elections, a 24-year-old programmer in my office, Divnesh Prasad, re-designed the software and now the software is our recruitment platform for our office,” Mr Saneem said.

Mr Saneem said ideas from youths may seem strange and different, but he reiterated that youths were just a ticking time bomb of succession.

“If you’re willing to accept that young people are the leaders of tomorrow, that’s the idea that’s coming up tomorrow when they eventually become a leader.”



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