NAIROBI, Kenya, May 27- Politicians have been challenged to embrace integrity in the management of public resources, saying lack of it has robbed Kenyans’ hope.
In a poetic but hard-hitting keynote address during the 18th National Breakfast held on Thursday, commercial lawyer Peter Waiyaki painted a picture of despondency among Kenyans, coupled with selfishness and deceit by politicians.
He said lack of integrity in the political sector had dimmed moments of hope for the last 60 years, and as a result, poverty, ignorance and disease remain a major challenge for Kenyans.
“Not every Kenyan is enjoying breakfast this morning, unfortunately. Many lack sufficient or healthy food or water. Many are unable to educate their children to any decent level. Many feel their best times are behind them,” he said, “This is a tragedy.”
“We need to commit to integrity. What is integrity? It is doing what you said you will do, when you said you will do it and how you said it you will do it. Whoever we are, we need to commit to integrity.”
The event was led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto and was attended by a host of leaders in politics, the Judiciary and the corporate sector.
“Doing the right thing sometimes demands we even let go positions we think are our entitlements, to hand them over to people more deserving, more suited, with less baggage and more energetic,” he said.
Lawyer Waiyaki also challenged public servants across all arms of government to put Kenyans first in their service, saying that is the true meaning of patriotism.
“For our politicians, you have a choice not to make a promise for a road, that you know that you will not deliver. Integrity is honesty, truth and accountability. Nothing complicated. Lack of integrity robs people hope and has done for a long time,” he said.
He also touched on moments when Kenyans have been offered hope, but pointed out that that has remained just that, and instead, Kenyans are grappling with all-time high unemployment and embezzlement of public resources.
According to a new report by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), only 5 percent of Kenyans are willing to report incidents of corruption.
It is on this note that Waiyaki challenged all Kenyans to equally embrace integrity.
“Integrity is not being honest for you. It is being honest,” he said. “Integrity demands that you demand integrity to others, from others and as well from the other people you bring on board, to work for you. Integrity is everything and guarantees hope.”
His sentiments come at a time when the country is gearing towards an electioneering period next year, in what has raised political temperatures.
It is also a period when the fate of President Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga-led Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is hanging in the balance, after the court declared it null and void. They have all filed notices of appeal in court, with Odinga declaring the process if “unstoppable.”
The President and his Deputy also spoke at the prayer breakfast.
“Kenya cannot be changed by one single person, but us working together. We can and I believe we shall make a difference. We can indeed change Kenya,” the President said.
On his part, the Deputy President urged his colleagues to pay attention to what is happening in the country and the world, saying it could be a call for unity.
“So much has happened but as things stand today, the Tanga Tanga tours are not there and the BBI ‘reggae’ has also stopped. I think we need to listen to our religious leaders. Maybe God is telling us ‘come, let us reason together,” Ruto said.