John Mahama: Injecting State cash into National Cathedral project must stop
“The public funding of the national cathedral, particularly at this time, must stop. Being a Christian myself, and deeply appreciative of the centrality of God in nation building, I agree with most Ghanaians who believe that the project cannot constitute a top priority of government at this moment, warranting further injection of scarce public funds,”
Former President John Dramani Mahama has mounted a strong defense against the funding of the controversial National Cathedral project with State cash.
Mr. Mahama says he struggles to understand why the construction of the Cathedral is a priority for the government, especially in the ongoing economic crunch.
According to him, a value-for-money audit of the project is crucial as it would “open the way for believers who wish to contribute to its construction.”
“The public funding of the national cathedral, particularly at this time, must stop. Being a Christian myself, and deeply appreciative of the centrality of God in nation building, I agree with most Ghanaians who believe that the project cannot constitute a top priority of government at this moment, warranting further injection of scarce public funds,” he posted on social media on Sunday.
In the post on Facebook, the former President explained that “because of the non-transparency of the processes and procurements associated with the project, I believe that the cathedral project should be subjected to a value-for-money audit in other to open the way for believers who wish to contribute to its construction to do so”.
The populace started questioning the project’s source of financing when the North Tongue MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, put out documents showing that an amount to ¢200 million has been dished out towards the construction of the project.
These monies, he said, were dished out without recourse to parliamentary processes or strict public procurement practices.
According to Mr. Ablakwa, the Akufo-Addo administration first proclaimed the project as a private and personal pledge; however, public funds are now siphoned to facilitate the task.
He added that the inclusion of the National Cathedral’s Executive Director on the roll of Presidential Staffers also flies in the face of the law.
“When you go through the list of Board of Trustees, this gentleman [Dr Paul Opoku Mensah] who has been enlisted here as the Executive Director of the Secretariat, a Secretariat presented as a private entity, has also been enlisted as a Presidential staffer and his position there is an overseer of the National Cathedral.
“Why is the Ghanaian taxpayer paying somebody who works for a private board of trustees?” he quizzed.
His revelations have since gotten many influential individuals and pressure groups questioning the transparency and accountability of government.
The genesis of the National Cathedral
The building of the Cathedral fulfills a pledge President Akufo-Addo revealed he made to God before winning the 2016 elections.
In 2019, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, said the construction of the National Cathedral is estimated to cost over $100 million.
It has since been amended to $340 million.
The government has already demolished all structures on the proposed site to construct the National Cathedral at Ridge in Accra, and work is progressing.
It is also scheduled to be commissioned on March 6, 2024.
The 5,000-seater auditorium project will also bequeath to the country a gracious national park for all Ghanaians, bring new skills, technology, and jobs, and act as a beacon to national, regional, and international tourists.
SOURCE: DAILY MAIL GH