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Empowering the youth to fight corruption

Asongla

Every day around the world millions of people are affected by corruption. It is a universal phenomenon, which challenges good governance and grinds down economic growth. It is an extensive term covering the exploitation of entrusted power for private gain and is one of the most decisive social problems. Corruption is a serious problem, after poverty and unemployment and is a global threat. It aggravates inequality and injustice, and undermines stability, especially in the most vulnerable regions. It weakens the very fabric of democracy. Openness, transparency and accountability by the governments and leaders are essential for development. Young people have the power to change the social and political dynamics that underlie a resigned acceptance of bribery and other forms of corruption. They form the largest population and so must take up their role in holding to account their governments on their various pledges and commitments made.

Northeast States is a large and diverse region, necessitating different policies for different economies and contexts. Political and legal forms of corruption have become increasingly worrying in the northeast. Some of the breach in reliability systems across the northeast include insufficient regulation of political finances, which calls into question who really has a voice in the level of power; mismanagement of public resources, which costs tax payers crores in lost revenues; favoritism and cronyism, which are often the norm of doing business; unchecked conflicts of interest; and practical barriers that prevent access to information.

The lack of accountability, transparency and monitoring mechanisms has lead to the poor governance system here. Socio-economic development, politics and local culture are badly affected by the corruption which leads to additional costs and problems. Young people are often forgotten victims, left without an opportunity to voice their concerns, to help make positive changes, or to enhance their skills and become active citizens for a better future. The youth face challenges such as high unemployment rates and limited educational opportunities. This has put tremendous pressure on the youth, to achieve and excel under such a challenging economic environment. Youth is highly affected due to corruption; they are discouraged due to inequality and immorality in the society, non-availability of opportunities, breakdown of family values, unemployment, poor or inadequate education, so first they become victim of corruption and eventually become the corrupt. The reality is that many young people today face a numerous challenges, such as high rates of poverty and unemployment, drug abuse, alcoholism, reckless sex among others. Many youth are merely surviving, and engaged in an activity without enthusiasm through life. This is a great setback towards our achievement. Vast majority of the youth are victims facing the challenges of corruption on a daily basis. In order to remove all these malpractices and ill deeds from the society youth should raise voice against corruption.

Youth constitutes a sizeable portion of society. They are the pride of the state. Young people are an integral element for the success of a cultural change in attitudes and behaviour towards corruption and in the shaping of the values of tomorrow, since they represent the future of any society. Moreover, the values and attitudes of young people today will shape the values of the society tomorrow. The greater the number of youth who speak up, the more likely it is that change will occur.  Finding allies is crucial, though no single person can take on corruption alone.

Many young people have the desire and capacity to transform the society and they have a potential to positively affect future anti-corruption efforts. They tend to be more open to wide-scale socio-political transformation and have fewer vested interests in maintaining the status quo. The question is how to harness then energy and innovation of young people, and to provide the right kinds of support. Unless tapped in the right way, this very energy of the youth can tip over the other side and become destructive and dangerous for the society. As the new generation of politicians, entrepreneurs and civil society actors, they have an important role to play in bringing a new culture of integrity to all levels of the society, but they are also the most vulnerable. Therefore, they should be taught how to effectively detect, prevent and fight corruption.

While various strategies can be adopted to reduce corruption, the involvement of the youth in the fight can make a huge difference. Corruption typically happens behind closed doors and away from the public eye. But one can usually tell when something does not feel quite right. In order to become efficient observers of corruption, youth activists need to acquire skills and learn about tools that can help them uncover and denounce different forms of corruption. The youth have an inevitable duty to fight against corruption to overcome the prevailing challenges and safeguard their future. Engaging the youth is essential for success in curbing corruption as they are generally more open to social change and political transformation. To this end, it is highly significant to formulate appropriate empowerment strategies to raise their awareness and understanding about corruption and the way it undermines democratic societies, and at the same time build their capacity to stand up against corruption.

Foremost it is important that youth understand that good governance can only be attained if corruption is addressed. They need an understanding of the rules of governance which include accountability, transparency and integrity. Education is undoubtedly central to preventing corruption. It should begin from the earliest of age. At kindergarten and elementary school levels and spread throughout the whole curriculum. It should also include professional development of supervisors and other education staff in ethical questions in the process of life-long learning. Endeavors such as youth camps for teenagers in academic institutions, collaborations with youth networks using social media, cultural competitions (art, music, essay or story writing, photography, sports etc.), and launching street theatre can be the gateway use to engage with the youth regarding this burning issue. Young activists can inject fun into fighting corruption. Such events bring school or university peers together in an unconventional way to take part in outdoor activities and find lasting anti-corruption solutions. They must become champions of the fight against corruption in their respective schools, colleges and universities. The more the youth takes the lead, the more the policies have the chance to succeed. Youth initiatives become even more structural when integrated in larger campaigns on anti-corruption. Youths should remember that rejecting corruption is not enough; rather, it is vital to act against it promptly and consistently, as a corruption free citizen stands to benefit from better public service delivery and good governance.

The world is becoming more reliant on technology every day, and so too is the fight against corruption. Tech-savvy young people can help communities document their cases of corruption by developing reporting platforms via the web, hotlines or mobile apps. Use of the Internet is a way in which campaigns can go international. The youth have good exposure to the Internet and social media that connects them into one powerful force for social change. They can ultilise the social media to learn more about corruption and share ideas on how to prevent and combat it. Instead of posting comments that cannot take the society forward, they can use social media to understand corruption, speak out against it, report it and help each other guard against it.

In addition it is important for youth to participate in electing credible leaders, who would contribute to good governance and development. Young people must take time to understand the electoral process and their civic responsibility of choosing a leader who understands the need for investing in the resource that is young people. They should use their right to vote, and vote in leaders who are progress oriented. Furthermore, youths must be involved in both formulation and implementation of policy against corruption. Young people need to be given tools and incentives to become strong supporters of open and responsible governance, and mobilize their peers. Unfortunately, many politicians take advantage of young people and use them to among others, intimidate their opponents and perpetrate acts of violence against them. As future leaders and voters, young people are an integral element in shaping the values of tomorrow. The church, civil society, parents and other agents of socialisation have a noble task to inculcate in the youth ethical values of integrity, loyalty, honesty and accountability. Involving, informing and educating young people about benefits of integrity, transparency and good governance can make a significant difference in the shaping of future societies and the balance of power within them.

The youth remain the strongest weapon in the fight against corruption. They have inherent energy and ability to mobilise themselves. They must rise up from their siesta and claim their rightful spaces if they are to improve their livelihoods, and if the society is to achieve gains in development. The future they deserve will be ruined if corruption is allowed to take root in our society. They should be able to work hard and earn a living, become self-reliant through hard work and not aspire to be successful through immoral and unethical means. Youths need to take a personal decision, that they want a corruption free environment. Youth have the power in you to bring about that change.

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