Let’s partner to empower youth – Sosu to IYES Foundation
WELCOME ADDRESS BY HON. FRANCIS-XAVIER KOJO SOSU, MP FOR MADINA CONSTITUENCY ON THE THEME “MIND SHIFT” AT IYES GHANA 2022 AT UPSA AUDITORIUM ON WEDNESDAY, 16TH MARCH, 2022
I celebrated my 43rd birthday and 11th Wedding Anniversary this year at Kumasi where I attended a wedding. On the 13th February whilst preparing to return to Accra, I decided to wash my car and hang out with some young guys around. At the car wash, a young man who looked very dedicated to his duty hurriedly washed my car in record time. When I was about leaving, another person who had come to the washing bay who works at Audit Service made me out and said “Hon. Sosu, it’s nice seeing you in person” Immediately the young man turned to me and said “Ei wo ye honourable diaa, enie menka masem yi enkyere wo” to wit, “if you are an honourable member of Parliament, then let me tell you about my story”.
I obliged and listed to him. This was a 32-year-old who is the 1st of Family of 10. He completed University of Education and obtained 2nd Class Honours in Environmental Science in 2019 and did his National Service with Food and Drugs Board. He said life has become so unbearable for him after National Service that he had to return to his Village, Effijiase in the New Juaben Municipality. A graduate with 2nd Class Upper, with no job, living with his old parents in the Village with 9 other siblings. Life, he said things had become so difficult that he had to survive by coming to Ejisu Krapa to do what is popular known as “car wash” in order to make 20ghs a day to survive. This man is none other than Mr. Adjei Oduro Isaac, whom I have personally invited to be part of this event this morning.
The story of Mr. Adjei is one of several other stories of graduates in Ghana who are looking for jobs that do not exist. Whilst I admit that part of the reasons for the non-existence of these jobs is leadership failure because successive leaders in Africa and for that matter Ghana have failed to make the requisite investments in the productive sector, services sector and agricultural sector, and also failed to create the needed environment for private sector participation which could churn out the needed jobs.
There is also a disconnect between the job market and the training most of our young graduates undergo. The question is who do we blame for the current state of affairs? My answer is that we all own responsibilities to ourselves to change our narrative irrespective of what society offers us. If society fails us, we don’t have to fail ourselves. Where there is darkness, let’s be the light, where there’s negativity, let’s be positive, where there is despair, let’s be the shining hope. It is against this background that I consider this Year’s theme very apt and appropriate.
The theme for this Year’s event is not only apt and appropriate but also timely considering our current challenges. The devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the twin challenges of unemployment and economic hardship which was already being experienced by Youth of Ghana.
Indeed, before the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment was high, inflation was on the rise, interest rates had entered double digit, and the economy was in a decline, resulting in high cost of living leading to reduced standard of living. As we speak today, the 2021 Population and Housing Census conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) shows that Ghana’s population has increased from 24,658,823 in 2010 to 30,832,019 in 2021, with the current unemployment rate being 13.4% which in nominal terms will be more than 1.55million people who are economically active but do not have jobs.
The age category between 15 and 24 years who are unemployed stands at 32.8% which in nominal terms would be more than 10.1million young persons. This situation according to our National Security Strategy Document makes issues of Youth Unemployment a national security concern. This is because no nation can fully guarantee its continuous stability when majority of its young persons are living in hopelessness.
The first solution to this rather security threat is Mind Shift.
Leaders must shift their mind, teachers must shift their mind, Public Servants must shift their minds, Lecturers must shift their Minds, Taxi Drivers must shift their minds, Lawyers, Judges, Police Officers must all shift their minds. There must be a paradigm shift in our approach, the way we see and do things.
For those of us in leadership, this meant a break from the regular ways of interaction and bonding with Constituents. However, I believe the Covid-19 pandemic also introduced the need for a Mind Shift for many of us in addressing the fundamental challenges that we face. For me personally, I was inspired to do more and saw this challenge as a greater opportunity for selfless service and impact. We saw the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to re-write the wrongs of the past and offer servant leadership to resolve the challenges of our time. In short, we exhibited a Mind Shift.
In about fifteen (15) months of my work in Parliament, many can attest to major interventions in Madina and in Parliament because I received to think the way everybody thinks about Politics. I believed in the philosophy that He who never walks unless where he sees the footprint of others, never makes discoveries. I was ready to make the needed sacrifices for my Mind Shifting Approach to Parliamentary Leadership.
Together with a Governance structure that I set up in my Office, I introduced the Madina Job Center and created various Modules such as Youth in Fashion Design, Youth in Hairdressing, Youth in Mushroom Farming and Youth in Website Development, among others, and have so far connected over 3,500 Young persons to Jobs. We launched the Madina Trade Fair and Christmas Carnival to provide a platform for local Entrepreneurs and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to exhibit their products and boost the local economy of Madina. In our efforts to achieve quality Education, we launched the Basic School Library Project, MPs Education Scholarship Fund and introduced the Service Above Self Best Teacher Awards to motivate Teachers in the Constituency, at a time most Teachers were less motivated and heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Health, I introduced the Health Project which has reached out to several Constituents and the Health Fund that supports Constituents with their health needs beyond their needs. My biggest goa in Health is to establish a 1,000-bed capacity Children’s Hospital in Danfa. As I speak to you today, I have already reached out to the Diplomatic Community, Philanthropist and community Leaders, and the Imminent Chief of Danfa has already donated 10acres of land for this Project. This can only be achieved through a Mind Shift.
Over the weekend, we launched the Sosu Sports Development Projects which saw the attendance of former Black Stars Coaches and Players in our bid to use Sports as a tool for community development.
To ensure a fair, equal and inclusive society, we introduced four (4) new Bills in Parliament to substitute the death penalty for life imprisonment; ensure compensation for persons wrongfully arrested, detained and incarcerated; amend the Legal Professions Act 1960 (Act 32) to open up legal education and review the functions of the General Legal Council; and prohibit the practice and labelling of persons (especially older women) as witches by witch doctors or witch finders. By far, it is the first time in the history of the Fourth Republic to have a first-term MP introduce this number of Bills in a single year.
Additionally, my journey from a street child to an orphanage home, from the orphanage home to the Ghana Bar, from the Ghana Bar to the Parliament of Ghana could not have been attained without a Mind Shift and a willingness and desire not to be confined to the challenges of my past. As a result, I wish to admonish you that the first step to guaranteeing the future you so desire is through a shift of mindset.
And let me propose that the first Mindset you may want to consider is Self-Believe. Let me add that not everyone will believe what you believe, so don’t be worried and don’t despair when others don’t believe in you and in your vision. Just keep believing what you believe. Let me confess that not many people believed in my ability. I had friends who didn’t believe in me.
In 2004 at Legon, I contested for SRC President and lost. Having served as Class Captain for my Year-Group, I contested as President for the Law Students’ Union and lost. Having again served as Class Captain for my Year-Group, I contested and lost again. So, people may laugh at you, and not believe in you, your future and values. They may eat and drink with you, be in the same Church but not believe in you. However, if you keep believing in what you believe and courageously fight for what you believe, someday, people will believe what you believe. So, keep believing in yourself and your future.
I wish to commend Pastor Brian Amoateng for this initiative and urge the IYES Foundation to partner the Madina Job Center under my office to further empower and create more avenues for brilliant but talented individuals to achieve their goals in life.
With these words, I welcome you all to the Madina Constituency and wish you the very best in this Year’s IYES.
Thank you & Welcome!
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