The popular belief that war on corruption in Kenya can be won by creating strong institutions should now change.
The extent to which the vice has entrenched itself in the society calls for a shift in the strategy in order to involve the citizenry.
The public, and in particular the youth, must be involved if we are to rid our country of corruption.
The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and other agencies the State has created to fight corruption should develop effective programmes with this in mind. The programmes should focus on prevention and must encourage and create structures of reporting graft cases.
The fight against corruption is currently focused on punishing rather than prevention. A lot of resources are used in investigating mega corruption cases at the expense of programmes that could have far-reaching effects.
For instance, the majority of Kenyans, especially those at the lower end of society, are not aware that there are measures they can take when confronted by corrupt State officials and, therefore, continue to pay bribes to get services from public officers.
They have lost faith in State institutions and are not aware that the government has changed its style of management with the passing of the new Constitution.
By working closely with civil society and community institutions, the war on corruption can be won.
Corruption starts from below, where it gains firm roots and becomes a culture. It only grows bigger as we get higher up the ladder.
That is why the citizens must be involved if it is to be defeated. Most important, the battle needs the energetic and relatively well educated youth.
As citizens and as young people, we must play our role accordingly, realising that corruption has cost the Kenyan economy dearly and has a direct effect on our personal suffering today.
We must start by rejecting, in word and deed, corruption in all its forms, especially from politicians who bribe their way to power. It is only then that we shall have the moral courage to fight corruption.
There is no stronger weapon in the fight against corruption than our own individual initiatives.
Second, we must not look the other way when we see corruption. We must confront and deal with it. We cannot fight corruption by running away from it or covering our face. This has given the vice the space and opportunity to grow.
Third, we must build a strong network against corruption. Social mobilisation and formation of a critical mass are needed to fight corruption.
We must not forget that corruption is strong and can only be fought by strong networks. A strong movement will bring it down.
Most important, we must make accountability and anti-corruption our new way of socialisation.
To do this, we must make it the talk in families, schools, places of worship, and social venues. We must make the fight part of the syllabus, sermons, and family talks. Young people must grow up knowing that corruption is not only evil, but that it is unacceptable.
A deliberate move must be made to get the youth involved in the fight against corruption if we are to make any headway. Unless the youth get involved in the fight against corruption, it will remain a major problem now and in the future.
Mr Obonyo is convener, The Youth Congress. [email protected]