As Work On National Cathedral Begins Despite Huge Protests &Supreme Court Cases
Despite the stiff opposition from civil society groups, individuals and organized groups, such as the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Akufo-Addo government, has arrogantly begun demolishing state bungalows belonging to Court of Appeal Judges to pave way for its much touted National Cathedral for the Christian community
Some of the buildings built at millions of Ghana cedis some five years at Ridge in Accra, have seen their doors, windows, air-conditioners, roofs and others fittings ripped off, leaving the concrete to be razed down by bulldozers, which will arrive sooner than later.
The demolishing exercise, will take away some ten buildings with six-bedrooms each built by the Judicial Service to house the Appeal Court Judges, who have since been moved into rented apartments together with their families.
A visit to the Ridge area, shows the government, has its mind made up, and no force on earth, can stop its National Cathedral project.
With the judge’s bungalows razed down, other state and privately owned buildings like the Scholarship Secretariat, Passport Office, Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons among others providing vital services to banks and Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), will also be pulled down by the government.
The exercise comes on the heels of a Supreme Court case against the construction of the Cathedral by a member of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), James Kwabena Bomfeh, a.k.a Kabila, who had filed a suit, seeking to prevent government from partaking in the construction of the 5,000-seater national cathedral.
He had also filed for an interlocutory injunction to restrain the government or any of its representatives from being involved in or taking any steps towards the construction of the cathedral, including the demolition of residences of justices of the Superior Courts.
The TUC, had questioned President Akufo-Addo’s position that, the building of the cathedral could be described as “Priority among priorities?
In a statement, the TUC, had indicated that it would continue to support initiatives of the government that seeks to enhance social and economic development, but cannot support the construction of a national cathedral.
The group said “The Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool”.
It said “We would like to appeal to President Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Add to shelve this plan otherwise we will invite all Ghanaians to join us to campaign vehemently against this misplaced priority and to protect the natural purse”.
But last week, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, announced government was going to play a role in it building.
Presenting the 2019 national budget to Parliament last Thursday, Mr Ofori-Atta, revealed that the Akufo-Addo government, has allocated seed money for the construction of the building which will be located on very vast and prime lands in the national capital.
Mr Ofori-Atta, said the building of the National Cathedral will not put undue financial burden on the state.
He said that“The state is facilitating this process by providing the land, the Secretariat, and seed money for the preparatory phase”.
He added that “This National Cathedral partnership framework operationalizes, and indeed is a practical expression, of the social partnership envisaged to foster participatory development of the country as our collective goal.”
The Finance Minister, said he has “proposed a partnership between the State and the Ghanaian Christian community both at home and in the Diaspora.”
The President cut the sod for the construction of a National Cathedral for the country during the 60th year of the country’s independence on March 6, 2017.
Speaking in London on the project, he said the construction of the edifice, must be regarded as a significant symbol of the ordinary Ghanaian’s life, adding the construction of the cathedral was a priority among priorities.
“People will ask if it (national cathedral) is a priority among priorities. We’ll never find enough money to do everything we want to do. But we have to begin, and that’s what we have started”. President Akufo-Addo further mentioned that the cathedral when built would serve as a symbolic monument that will unify the citizenry in a Christ-like manner.
“Seventy percent of the population is Christian. This is the focus that strengthens the community. We find ourselves in need of a symbol that the Ghanaian nation can rally behind. We see elsewhere in the huge would monuments and we are going to find the means to sort it out”.
The Cathedral, will house chapels and baptistery, a 5000-seat auditorium, expandable to 15,000 people for national events and celebrations. It will, among others, have a grand central hall, a music school, and will house Africa’s first-ever Bible museum and documentation centre.
The design of the cathedral reflects the art and culture of Ghanaian ethic groups; the high ceilings and a staggered roof is reminiscent of Akanian architecture and the facade will be concaved, decorated with timber in imitation of Ashanti royal stools. The architect for the project is David Adjaye, a British-Ghanaian.
But even before work started on the project, it was caught in a controversy as government came under more pressure to disclose the cost taxpayers would cough out in the construction of the edifice.
Government spokespersons and communicators had said that the cost of building the religious edifice would not be at the cost of the taxpayer, but critics and some experts were not convinced.
Deputy Minister Information, Pius Enam Hadzide, had claimed that, the enter cost of the project, as well as the temporary accommodation for the affected persons, would be taken care of by private institutions and individuals.
“It is not correct that the state was going to be wasting public resources on building that cathedral. Building of that cathedral will primarily be funded by voluntary contributions from the Christian community, philanthropists and with grants from development partners, he said.
However, after all the controversy about the funding,the Finance Minister, has confirmed the fear of many indicating that contrary to earlier held view, government is preparing to fund some aspect of the edifice.
The Coalition of Muslim Organizations (COMOG) also asked the government to desist from involving itself in religious activities in the country and asked it to withdraw its assistance in building the Cathedral.
The group which is an amalgamation of Muslim groupings in the country, said it found the use of government resources in organizing Hajj, as well as building a National Cathedral, needless.
Speaking on Atinka FM’s Morning Show with Ekourba Gyasi recently, General Secretary for the COMOG, Alhaji Abdul Manaf, stated that although the group is not against the construction of a national cathedral, it believes that as a secular state, it is proper that government takes its hands off projects and activities of all religious bodies in Ghana.
He also debunked rumors that the government gave the Muslim community a land to construct their ultra-modern mosque in Kawukudi – Mamobi in Accra.
“What we know is that the government has allocated a plot of land which belongs to the whole Ghana for the construction of a National Cathedral. Muslims in Ghana, were not given any land, the former President Jerry John Rawlings destroyed our mosque in Makola and the Kawukudi land was given to us as a compensation”, he explained.
The ejected Court of Appeal Judges, had also petition the demolishing of the state bungalows to clear the way for the construction of a National Cathedral.
The judges, had noted that it does not make economic and social sense for the government to approve of the planned demolishing of their residence and further relocate them.
But John Peter Amewu, the former Lands and Natural Resources Minister, said none of the judges whose homes are to be affected, objected to their relocation.
“We’ve never had a complaint from any of the judges that were going to be relocated,” Amewu told host of the Super Morning Show on Joy FM in the heat of the controversy.