Deputy President William Ruto has urged professionals to rise up and take the lead in the fight against corruption in the country.
Dr Ruto said it is time professionals promoted ethics and integrity in the public service as they drive their agenda and policies.
He said professionals should be at the forefront in advocating for ethical practices in the society.
Speaking when he officially opened the First Inter-Professionals Summit held at a Mombasa hotel on Wednesday, the Deputy President said professionals should carry out their duties besides taking decisions efficiently if the country is to be free from graft.
“Corruption is to blame on professionals who fail to execute their work efficiently. As professionals, we should provide professional pieces of advice and decisions as they drive agenda and policies,” said Dr Ruto.
“It is true to state that by and large, our most vexing problems as a nation have a strong professional component. And they relate to our professionals failing to rise to their highest standard and full potential,” added the Deputy President.
He told the Summit whose theme was “The Future of Professionals” that the country’s human resource capital is highly regarded worldwide and, therefore, should be the biggest contributor to driving public service, national development and national discourse.
“It is inevitable, therefore, that professionals are expected to be the biggest drivers in all matters pertaining to the common good, public welfare and national service,” said Dr Ruto.
Present were professionals drawn from the Law Soceity of Kenya, Institute of Certified Secretaries, Institute of Human Resource Management, Kenya Institute of Supplies Management and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK), among others.
MPs Ali Mbogo (Kisauni), Mathias Robi (Kuria West), Stanley Muthama (Lamu West), Sheriff Athman (Lamu East and Joash Nyamoko (North Mugirango) accompanied the Deputy President.
The Deputy President noted that a large portion of blame for shortcomings being experienced in the country might be seen as failures attributable to professionals and professional organisations.
“When we talk about corruption, we may move from broad generalities and begin to examine the role of specific professionals in the mechanics of every corrupt incident,” said Dr Ruto.
He said the judicial corruption involves wayward lawyers on the bar and on the bench, adding that a bad decision procured for a valuable reward requires lawyers willing to negotiate terms and coordinate modalities by which the justice will be perverted.
“Corruption involving misappropriation, embezzlement of public funds entails an understanding among and between accountants, auditors, economists and such like professionals to see to it that budgets are diverted and misused,” said Dr Ruto.
Similarly, the Deputy President said, bad roads are a direct consequence of corrupt dealings involving engineers who may compromise designs, or be lax in supervising works, or permit shortcuts to be taken, or approve substandard work as completed and due for payment.
“We cannot run away from the fact that professionals face many challenges. Lecturers who award grades on the basis of inappropriate relations, engineers who approve substandard and dangerous structures, putting many innocent lives at risk from possible collapse, as well as costly, substandard works,” he said.
He singled out lawyers who formulate instruments and other arrangements, including legal opinions that become conduits in the theft of public resources and auditors who sign off cooked books that end up legitimizing misappropriation of public and private resources as some of the engagements that lead to corruption.
“Accountants who manipulate numbers, occasioning loss of value in the public and private sectors, surveyors and planners who facilitate expropriation of public land in shoddy and corrupt schemes, human resource managers who skew interviews and promotions and sacrifice merit at the shrine of tribalism, and qualification on the altar of nepotism are to blame for corruption,” said Dr Ruto.
He added: “Judges who auction justice to the highest bidder, consigning innocent people to untold suffering and media practitioners who file fake stories influenced by ‘brown envelopes ‘are part of the mess in this country.”
Harriet Chiggai, Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Vice Chairperson said the professionals’ body should put in place policies that would sustain the organization.
“As professionals we should take the lead in helping the government address challenges such as runaway corruption among other problems facing us as a nation,” said Ms Chiggai.
ICPAK CEO Patrick Ngumi and his LSK counterpart Mercy Wambua called for closer working relations between the government and the professional body in addressing challenges facing the country.
They called for ways of eliminating quacks in various fields, saying they were tarnishing the image of various professions.
Meanwhile, the Deputy President said there have been attempts to profile the political war against some personalities including him.
He said this has affected many individuals and government programmes.
“There has also been an attempt to hijack the war on corruption and turn it into a war against specific individuals. In the attempt to wage this convoluted version of the war on corruption, many government programmes and projects, as well as many innocent public servants have become casualties,” said Dr Ruto.
He said he’s surprised that there are people who have a problem with his assertion that the war on corruption must be fact-led and evidence–based in accordance with the law.
He wondered why some people have a problem with the truth, facts, evidence and with the law in the fight against corruption, saying the war on corruption is an integrity war.
“A war on corruption that lacks integrity ceases to be a war on corruption and becomes corruption itself. Integrity war that lack integrity is impunity. An integrity war waged selectively, using convenient half-truths, with political outcomes in mind, is impunity,” said Dr Ruto.