A careful study of the recently unveiled Economic Survey reveals a direct and undeniable correlation between security and economy. The key drivers of our economy - agriculture and tourism have taken a serious beating in the last few years owing to rising insecurity largely attributed to Al Shabaab extremist group’s activities in the country.
On the other hand, a key relational factor to insecurity, it has since emerged, is corruption. They make a lethal duo. A lot of Al Shabaab’s activities in Kenya have been made possible through corrupt acts of public officials who are too willing to look the other way provided their palms are oiled. Insecurity is further exacerbated by lethargy among top public officials, unresponsiveness of our populace, lack of a fair sense of judgment from leadership, divided loyalty, lack of passion, loss of focus, and lack of motivation among others.
A lot of these factors have indirect correlation with corruption. Junior police officers manning a control border point want to ‘eat’ because they are seeing their seniors ‘eating’ right, left and centre. They probably live in squalid conditions because monies meant for their housing has been corruptly diverted.
Police officers investigating a terror suspect may approach the case casually. They know they do not have the means to nail the suspect because funds meant for a forensic lab were corruptly devoured by some fat cats now turned high priests of anti-corruption.
They may even lack the passion to do the job itself because they probably never qualified for the job having bribed their way into the force! A member of public who has information on terror plot may not be enthusiastic to report to the police because the public perception out there is that the force is reeling in corruption.
A public official issuing identity cards or passports does not see any relationship between the job he does and security of the country. He does not appreciate his place in the wheel of national security and is willing to dish them to anyone who pays the highest.
I want us to be honest with ourselves and accept that the spirit of corruption has incrementally permeated every facet of our society. I also want us to agree that without making this acknowledgment we cannot go far in arresting our fall into abyss.
The country is bleeding. And we haven’t seen anything yet if we do not change our ways. Our envisaged economic success and Vision 2030 cannot be anchored on corruption and insecurity.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s resolve to arrest this cancer by taking bold and unprecedented steps should be supported by all Kenyans. Our collective security and future are hinged on how we succeed in taming corruption and by extension insecurity. Institutions mandated to fight corruption must either work or be forced to work. It is too late in the day to engage in guess work and give people second chances. Kenya cannot wait.
Leadership, at every level must now be strictly anchored on integrity, proven ability and other national values, which Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for. Kenya cannot go on trial and error mode forever. Kenyans of all walks of life must now rally behind our President in casting out the demons of corruption and insecurity from our midst. The sacrifice might appear great for now but the promise is multi-million times greater.
The only way to grow our economy, create more jobs, enhance our happiness and guarantee our future success is by uniting against the twin evils of corruption and insecurity. The President has offered this opportunity for us to break from the past and our present, an opportunity to leap into a bright future. Are we going to seize it or are we going to let it pass? The choice is yours to make!
—The writer is Dagoretti South Member of Parliament, [email protected]