It hurts to tag parliament as a useless entity, Second Deputy Speaker Joe Osei-Wusu has complained.
“I read yesterday from somewhere that somebody says parliament is useless, it should be removed; well we are entitled to our views,” Mr Osei-Wusu said in an interviewed aired on Friday, 14 July in reference to comments made by financial analyst Sydney Casely-Hayford at a summit on the theme: The Economic and Political Rise of Africa.
Mr Casely-Hayford told an audience at that summit that: “The first thing I’ll in Ghana if I had the opportunity [is that] I’ll break down parliament. We don’t need it.”
According to him, the MPs are just wasting money and doing nothing useful. “These people are sitting there, spending money like crazy, making stupid decisions, and passing stupid laws.”
“They [MPs] don’t read the papers that they are given, they don’t think through what the challenges are. All they can think of is: ‘let’s pass this thing quickly, let’s take some money, let’s go to Senchi Royal, let’s go and sit there and chill and come back and that’s the pattern.
The social commentator, therefore, suggested that the house be used as a tourist attraction. “So me the first thing I’s say [is]: ‘let’s use it [parliament]. Maybe if you break it down, you are wasting money so we won’t break it down but we can use it as a tourist attraction. We can say: ‘this is what we used to do in the past, so you come for a tour and then we should just poster it all so people can see.”
According to Mr Casely-Hayford, rather than having a central legislature, “We should have regional parliaments, every region, we have 10 of them in Ghana, every region must have its own little parliament, every region must have its own law courts, every region must have its ministries and down at that level, let the decisions be made as to where they want to go.”
He has subsequently apologised for his comments which he described as “harsh” and “over the top” following a statement on the floor of the house by Kumbungu MP Ras Mubarak who demanded he be hauled before the Privileges Committee of the house to face contempt charges.
Speaking in an interview with Kojo Yankson on Accra-based Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Mr Osei-Wusu expressed pain that such comments could be made by people who should know better.
“… Those who really want to talk about parliament, I think it will be fair for them to engage here [parliament], find out what committees go to do at the meetings they go to; why is it that committee work is being done or parliament work is being done on a weekend? … If any of them, either in their private or public places, work on the weekend, will they claim overtime [allowance], will they claim overnight allowances, will they claim their transport if the organisation is not transporting them? Yet these same people who are criticising parliament for taking these payments also claim them in their organisations…
“Because parliament itself is a body that interfaces with the people directly, I think people take the institution for granted. It’s really hurting to hear, for example, somebody say parliament is useless. Now if that person met me in my private organisation as a private lawyer, he will pay me any amount I demand to use my services, that service that I am using to take monthly salary, the amount I take monthly here [parliament], he will pay one day for one document, that same expertise…”
According to the former CEO of the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), all the MPs in the house are professionals who have either worked with the public sector or ran their private businesses successfully without blemish before becoming legislators and so he found it puzzling for the collective of them to be branded useless. “…How did we become useless only because we came together? It’s a pity, most especially when it is coming from people who know and can find out.”