Story: Kwadwo Owusu ADUOMI
Contrary to the assertion by Deputy Minister of Finance , John Kumah that no one can determine what is government’s priority projects in respect to the constriction of the National Cathedral, former Municipal Chief Executive for Ejisu-Juaben in the Ashanti region says the current economic hardship in the country should be the priority of the government, instead of releasing money for a National Cathedral.
Afrifa Yamoah-Ponkoh said God would not need a cathedral when almost every sector of the Ghanaian economy was faced with financial challenges.
The government, through the Finance Minister, approved the release of GHC25 million to the National Cathedral Secretariat as additional seed money for the construction of the edifice
Speaking on Nhyira FM which was monitored by Today , Mr. Yamoah Ponkoh said the funds could have been used to pay the arrears of NABCO trainees and attend to the stalled hospital projects.
“NABCO is now collapsed. You have GHC25 million for Cathedral while owing NABCO personnel seven months arrears. “Do you have better houses than God that He says you should build Him a house?
At this time when ‘no bed syndrome’ is affecting hospitals and you are building a national cathedral, for who? You want God to come and dwell in this filth” he quizzed?
Mr. Yamoah-Ponkoh described the Akufo-Addo administration as confused, hence the quest to build the Cathedral.
“This is deceit to loot the public purse. Akuffo Addo is highly confused and using Ghana for his personal gains.”
The IMANI Africa President, Franklin Cudjoe on his part noted that the government was “shooting itself in the foot” with its pursuit of the National Cathedral.
“The options that it has painted for us that we need to be supportive of the state enterprises project is not being matched with the kind of investment they are making in this cathedral,” Mr. Cudjoe said whiles sharing his perspective on the National Cathedral at the weekend on Citi TV
“At the very least, it should be put on ice,” he added
Mr. Cudjoe also said it was unfortunate that the Finance Ministry had taken centre stage in the matter because of the circulation of a letter indicating an additional GH¢25 million of state funds as seed money.
He now felt more transparency was required from the government on the matter of the construction of the cathedral, which has a $350 million budget.
Private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu was also not left out as he found it hard to understand why government was bent on establishing the National Cathedral amidst the current economic challenges.
Speaking on also Citi TV, Mr. Kpebu said the cathedral was a misplaced priority.
He believed it was time for Christian leaders to declare their position on the matter.
“This Cathedral conversation is quite dicey. It is all about timing, and I do not think this is the right time to push for such a project. Indeed, we are all religious people, I am a Catholic, and so I know the essence of the church. But because we are currently hard-pressed for money as a nation, I do not think this should be the focus of the nation now”,he said.
“It is even time for the religious leaders to assess where they stand on this matter. The Board of trustees comprises all the top Christian leaders you can find in Ghana, and yet see how the public is resisting the project. This should be a strong message to our leaders that the society is constantly evolving.
“We could shelve the project for now and then when things are better, we could take it up. It is not as though the country is short of places of worship,” he added.
The Minority in Parliament has already filed three urgent questions to compel the Minister for Finance to provide details on how much the state has spent on the National Cathedral Project.
The National Cathedral project was proposed by the government in March 2017 as a physical embodiment of national unity, harmony, and spirituality.
The $350-million inter-denominational cathedral will have an auditorium capable of seating 5,000 people, as well as chapels, and a baptistery.
It is targeted to be completed in March 2024.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been criticised for his decision to build the National Cathedral in the face of numerous challenges facing the country.
In his defence, the President had said the construction is in fulfilment of a promise he made to God in the run-up to the 2016 election.