Member of Parliament for Bekwai and First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu has, for the first time, revealed why he is quitting public service.
The 4 term lawmaker who entered Parliament as an Independent Candidate and later switched to the New Patriotic Party will no longer return to the house of the legislature next year.
Many have wondered why a lawmaker of his caliber occupying what political book runners will describe as a ‘safe seat’ will abandon his legislative career midway. It turns out some unreasonable demands from some constituents drove him to take the decision to leave.
In an exclusive interview with EIB Network’s Parliamentary Correspondent, Ibrahim Alhassan, Joseph Osei-Owusu, affectionately called Joe Wise, revealed a community asking him to dislodge a toilet facility he constructed despite charging fees was the last straw for him.
“What is worse is, and that is the worst part. Indeed I will confess to you. One of the reasons that made me think it is enough, I’m not going to seek any public office again was some communities demanding that their public toilet is full, and if I don’t have those drained then they won’t vote. I kept asking myself, was it all worth it?
“Because the first thing is that, it is your personal responsibility to provide a toilet facility for yourself. Now for some reason we use the state money to build one. It’s been given to you, you use it, it’s full, you come back and drain it for me else I won’t vote! Somebody has not even gotten that opportunity at all.
“There’s another community that doesn’t even have it. In the end, I asked myself is it all worth it? Because what is even annoying, and let me be frank, if you go into that community the people using that pay for it. It is the community leaders that collect the money there and they call that community money and that it’s not even for replacing bulbs. So they were comparing notes.”
According to the former CEO for the DVLA, citizens generally are refusing to play their role in the governance architecture aside from the constant demands from political officeholders
“You build merchandised boreholes for communities. Some come back to say they can’t pay the bills, come and pay the electricity bills. How irresponsible can we be? These are some of the things that makes it difficult to be in public office beyond the general lack of appreciation and we want you to do this without talking about how we should do it.”
Another phenomenon that has contributed to the exit of the Bekwai MP is the abuse from the youth. According to him, the Ghanaian youth has become overly abusive of the elderly in their discourse. Reverence for the aged has been thrown to the dogs he believes, unlike what existed in years past.
“Young people are generally way too abusive. Generally, their choice of words in discussions and you think that it’s enough.”
He however blames the political class for failing to get citizens to internalize the fact that rights come with responsibilities.
“Probably our failure is that we are partly responsible because we have not made it an issue to train them to understand that governance involves responsibility. I think for me it’s a major failure of our political system. Generally, we are afraid to discuss what a voter should do. We are all talking about what the government will do for them without discussing that it means that you’ll pay not directly but we never discuss those things.”
Joseph Osei-Owusu is one of the 19 senior members of parliament from the governing New Patriotic Party who voluntarily opted out of the party’s primaries including Majority Leader and Suame MP, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu. 28 incumbent MPs also lost their bids to return. The opposition National Democratic Congress also lost 17 of its MPs when the party went for the primaries with 5 voluntarily opting out. The development has left many questioning the quality of legislation the next parliament will offer the country.