OTANI:President Kenyatta must make corruption fight his legacy

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday, December 8, declared that the renewed fight against corruption is unstoppable and will be painful to the perpetrators and assured that this fight will be sustained until the vice is eradicated.

In his address while opening the United Nation Global Compact’s 17ttAnti-Corruption Working Group Meeting and International Anti-Corruption Conference, the President also indicated that all the anti-corruption agencies; Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Director of Public Prosecutions, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Assets Recovery Agency and the Financial Reporting Centre, are now working in unison and independently to tame corruption. This, according to Kenyatta, has resulted in more than 350 cases relating to high ranking government officials being arraigned in court.

Whether the widest majority of Kenyans believe his rhetoric on commitment to wiping out widespread corruption is a totally different matter altogether, and whether ‘big fish’ will be netted, given the scepticism that has grown among Kenyans, especially in the last several months owing to widespread graft reported in the public sector.

The sentiment coming from the Head of State are indeed strong and welcome, not that he hasn’t made similar remarks in the past and not followed them through, especially if it is sustained and replicated by all relevant agencies and applied ruthlessly in the public and private sector.

President Kenyatta intimates the time for rhetoric is gone and it is now time for action, I agree totally, but this time he has to see this through and his words must be matched with action, body language and supported by all his bureaucratic and political allies for it to make any meaningful impact. In short, HE SHOULD MEAN BUSINESS!

For a real anti corruption fight to be viable, the President Kenyatta must start by using his ‘Tyranny of Numbers’ in the National and Senate assemblies to pass very drastic and punitive laws against those found shamelessly gulping public funds or those benefiting from ill-gotten wealth.

This he should not blink about, and the first culprits this should net must be members of parliament engaging in corruption, in light of recent revelations by the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission that some former MPs are still drawing salaries from parliament, while some members of the Parliamentary Service Commission are busy fuelling their personal vehicles using public monies.

After this, Kenyatta should follow by making it mandatory, with the requisite legal backing, for all public officials to declare their wealth that EACC and other agencies (local and international) should verify and compare with their wealth before they ascended to public service, and those found to have used their offices to amass wealth be arraigned in court with fool-proof evidence and sent to the gaol the soonest possible.

His unwavering political and financial support for all agencies to fight graft should be widely felt and Kenyatta should ensure there’s no political interference, or otherwise, with their operations to ensure the fight against the vice moves from national to county governments with swiftness, given the greed that has been devolved under the current governance system.

The biggest avenue for corruption under the Jubilee Coalition administration has been the government tenders, and here the president should be ruthless, guided by the current laws or stricter amended ones, with those tampering with public procurement process to gain financial advantage made to suffer the consequences, no matter their closeness to State House.

He should see to it that those who have been appointed to his Cabinet, Parastatal boards, ruling coalition political parties or even hired for government events reek not of even an iota of sleaze and this would save his face, in light of corruption scandals that have rocked almost all of his Jubilee administration’s key flagship projects, including National Youth Service restructuring, Free Laptops and Standard Gauge Railway.

He should then take this anti corruption gospel to all parts of the country and carry the masses with him, given members of the public have previously- when former president Mwai Kibaki was sworn in- shown their willingness to join in the fight, and were then even arresting police officers demanding and taking bribes from motorists and other members of the public.

When things start to take shape, The National Police Service through the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and National Police Service Commission headed by Johnstone Kavuludi- given the latest Bribery Index released by Transparency International-Kenya and preceding ones still place Police as the most corrupt sector- , as well as Judiciary through Chief Justice Dr willy Mutunga will have no option but to up their game and replicate this in their respective domains…..this anti-graft train will become unstoppable with wide public goodwill it will attract.

These are just but a few measures I feel if spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta would see a great reversal in cases of corruption reported in the public sector, and this would be greatly pushed forth by similar moves in the private sector, especially after mobile telephony firm Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore came out and declared his wealth, followed by his Kenya Commercial Bank equivalent Joshua Oigara, to set the anti corruption ball rolling to ingest all bad apples and set his administration on a clean slate; a rebirth, ahead of the 2017 general election, in which he seeks to run for a second term in office.

Mr President, make fighting corruption and reducing it to the bare minimum your chief legacy, if not the only one, and the latest opinion polls reflect what Kenyans feel about your current graft fight, coming amid allegations by the opposition chief Raila Odinga that your international loan Eurobond reeks of corruption and that 140 billion shillings from the 250 billion proceeds have been embezzled. The jury is still out.

Eradicating or reducing corruption significantly will see many things fall into place, especially development-wise, setting Kenyan on the path of faster progress and international acclaim.

Dear Mr President, MAKE KENYA GREAT. It’s now or never.

I wish you well, Uhuru.