National Cathedral: GH¢32m to David Adjaye is part of government expenditure – John Kumah
“Even though it may not be captured as a budget item because it is not under any specific MDA, it can form part of government expenditure, as long as we have captured in the budget that we were going to provide seed funding,”
A Deputy Finance Minister and Member of Parliament (MP) for Ejisu, believes the government has not erred in not detailing the GH¢32 million to Sir David Adjaye and Associates for consultancy on the National Cathedral in the budget.
“Even though it may not be captured as a budget item because it is not under any specific MDA, it can form part of government expenditure, as long as we have captured in the budget that we were going to provide seed funding,” Dr John Ampontuah Kumah, explained.
Speaking on The Point of View on Citi TV, Mr Kumah, said the government had given enough clarity on state funding of the cathedral.
This, follows revelations that the Akufo-Addo administration, has grabbed blank cheques to empty the state coffers over the construction of the controversial National Cathedral project to hijack the state coffers and hold blank cheques which they sign and cash out at will.
More documents are popping up confirming that the government, has paid private entities more than the GHS25 million captured in the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta’s letter dated March 31, 2022, with the heading “Seed Money For The Construction Of The National Cathedral” to a mysterious private company called, RIBADE Limited.
The latest documents from the Office of the President, has confirmed that in 2021 alone, President Akufo-Addo, authorized over GHS 32 million of taxpayers’ money to be paid to Sir David Adjaye & Associates Limited for consultancy on the National Cathedral project amounting to GHS 57 million blown so far.
Sir Frank David Adjaye, a Ghanaian-British architect is the owner of Sir David Adjaye & Associates Limited, and a well-known friend of Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, a cousin to President Akufo-Addo, who has been out several times extolling his virtues and competence as a building designer knighted by the Queen of England.
Sir David Adjaye & Associates Limited, designed the Cathedral for the government amid controversy and anger from the architect association of Ghana Institute of Architects, with reports that projects awarded him don’t go through the required tender processes spelt out in the Public Procurement and Financial laws of the country.
Excerpts of the document from the Jubilee House; “the Presidency Office of the President actuals from January to 9th December, 2021” shows the Sir David Adjaye & Associates Limited was paid an amount of the 32,070,103.02 for what was captured as “payment of consultancy services on new bids opening and interviewing of contractors rendered on the national cathedral project”.
In the case of the GH¢ 32 million, Dr. Kumah, said this money was coming from the office of the President.
“It is already a budget item provided for in the [office of the president] budget that was used for that purpose, which is legal,” he added.
In Mr. Kumah’s view, a line item is not necessary “if it is one of the priorities under a specific item which is already provided.”
“You just need to talk about it, as we have done,” he added.
In further response to the use of public funds for the cathedral which was supposed to be donor-funded, Mr. Kumah said even when we raise private funds, there will still be public funds because we are raising them for and on behalf of Ghanaians.”
The plan for the cathedral was proposed by the government in March 2017 as a physical embodiment of national unity, harmony, and spirituality.
The inter-denominational cathedral is expected to have an auditorium capable of seating 5,000 people, as well as chapels, and a baptistery.
The President has said the controversial project is in fulfillment of a promise he made to God in the run-up to the 2016 election.
Speaking on the matter, a former Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the Ejisu Juaben Municipality, Afrifa Yamoah Ponkoh, has taken a swipe at President Nana Akufo-Addo saying God does not need his Cathedral.
President Akufo-Addo cut the sod for the construction of the national cathedral on March 6, 2017, as part of events that marked Ghana’s 60th-anniversary celebration.
The government has also provided 14-acres of public land for the project, while the Christian community and individuals are to fund the construction.
Though reception towards the cathedral from Ghanaians has been mixed, it has been well received by various leaders in the Christian community.
Recently, Government granted the release of GH¢25 million to the National Cathedral Secretariat as additional seed money for the construction of the National Cathedral.
A letter, signed by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to the Controller and Accountant’s General, directed that the money be credited to Ribade Limited, for part payment of outstanding claims.
In a release signed by the Finance Minister Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta it stated that, “the Authority is hereby granted to you to release the sum [of] GH¢25, 000,000.00 as additional seed money to the National Cathedral Secretariat for the construction of the National Cathedral for part payment of outstanding claims from RIBADE Limited”.
Speaking on Okay FM’s ‘Ade Akye Abia’ programme, Mr. Afrifa Yamoah Ponkoh chastised the Akufo-Addo government for using the tax payers’ money to finance a project that does not immediately benefit the people of Ghana.
According to him, the President has blatantly refused to assist the ordinary Ghanaian and focusing on things that does not matter now.
“Where did God tell you that he needs a Cathedral,” he rhetorically asked.
“Why will God need a cathedral when his people are suffering. You are using monies that can be used to alleviate the hardships Ghanaians are going through to put up a project that is not immediately needed for anything except for the President’s and political party’s interest.”
God never said that . . . God will never say that, Kwame that is the gospel truth . . . God does not need that,” he said, adding that, “you don’t rob the people, you don’t deceive the people, you don’t betray the people and you don’t maim the people, then after that you say you’re using the proceeds to build a Cathedral for the people”.
He said President Akufo-Addo is doing whatever he wants.
“I am tempted to believe that there is no man in Ghana now . . . Ghanaians are suffering . . . after Rawlings there is no man in Ghana again”.
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa says the Nana Addo-led government’s unbribled desire to build a National Cathedral as part of his political promises for the country will certainly not please God.
Backing his assertions with Biblical references, the outspoken NDC MP said “Jesus Christ will be much happy if we take care of the poor.”
“Mathew 25:34 stated clearly the urgency to support the poor. Failure to that you won’t make it to heaven,” he stated in an interview with NEAT FM’s morning show, Ghana Monte.
Mr Ablakwa was discussing the release of GH¢25 million for the construction of the National Cathedral by the Nana Addo-led government.
According to him, the release of the funds for the cathedral project shows how insensitive the government is to Ghanaians who are suffering due to the current economic challenges the country is facing.
He suggested that the money released by the president for the construction of the cathedral could be used to boost the economy to make living a better one for Ghanaians.
“The God we are serving is a compassionate God, he expects us to do what is right first. You [President Nana Addo] cannot ignore the hungry people and build a church for God. It is not right. As Christian leaders, we should do the right thing. We serve a compassionate God.” he bemoaned.
But president Akufo-Addo has previously stated that the National Cathedral project is as important as any development project in Ghana.
Speaking at the Museum of the Bible’s inaugural Africa lecture held in the US on Thursday, May 5, 2022, the president said that the cathedral is essential to finding the missing link in Ghana’s development.