…Christian Council & Board Of Trustees Give Conflicting Info
A member of the board of trustees for the National Cathedral, which has its secretariat inside the Flagstaff House, has claimed that, a member of the Assemblies of God Church, has donated US$2 million towards the building of National Cathedral in Accra.
Rev. Dr. Paul Frimpong-Manso, who is also the General Superintendent of the Assembly of God church, did not mention the name of his church member who donated US$2 million for a building, which will see the eviction of nine Court of Appeal judges, the demolition of some freshly built state bungalows, the Judicial Training Institute, the Scholarship Secretariat, College of Physicians and Surgeons building, the Passport Office among other essential buildings.
The General Superintendent, was directly responding to concerns about financial prudence and accusations of loss of priority against the Akufo-Addo government over its decision to pump money into the Cathedral project when funding for the public education, statutory payments like GETFund and health insurance is not meeting expectations, especially essential drugs.
But Rev. Dr. Frimpong-Manso, insisted that these criticisms against the Cathedral to be located at East Ridge, have been one-sided with no one bothering to look at the benefits of the facility to the country.
To him, complaints, will persist in the next 10 years, however, people must focus on lots of waste in the nation and not count Cathedral among the wastage.
President Akufo-Addo, inaugurated a thirteen-member Board of Trustees the Interfaith National Cathedral at a ceremony held at the Presidency on Thursday, March 16, 2017.
The Board of Trustees is chaired by Most Reverend Samuel Asante Antwi and assisted by Archbishop Charles Palmer Buckle with Prophet Victor Kusi Boateng, serving as Secretary.
Other members of the Board include, Apostle Opoku Onyinah, Rev. Joyce Aryee, Professor Cephas Amenyo, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rt. Rev. Offei Akrofi, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, Rev. Eastwood Anaba, Bishop Dag Heward-Mills, Pastor Mensa Otabil, Rev Dr. Frimpong Manso and former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Prof. Emmanuel Martey.
To the Assemblies of God boss “the question is not the National Cathedral, the question is indiscipline, corruption, mismanagement of resources and the rest” adding “every year, we hear from the Auditors Report and the Public Accounts Committee, about people misusing public funds and walking free on our land.”
He agrees that, the Cathedral is costly, but believes it will serve its purpose because there is nothing cheap anywhere in the world, especially with putting up such edifices of national importance.
He argued that, there were people who spoke, demonstrated and even died protesting about the Value Added Tax (VAT), Health Insurance and the Free SHS policy when they were introduced, but in the end, it served the nation’s interest.
“I don’t see it as a misplaced priority…we are people under God and we want to do something as a national symbol to honour God whom a majority of Ghana’s believe and accept,” he said convinced that the building of the Cathedral is the right move initiated by President Akufo-Addo and asked all Ghanaians to embrace and give it the necessary support to see the light of day.
Interestingly, former General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, has said the Council would not hesitate to acquire a land elsewhere for the construction of the controversial National Cathedral, suggesting that the Council proposed the idea to construct the Cathedral.
Rev. Opuni-Frimpong, was part of the initial delegation of clergymen who met President Akufo-Addo to discuss the establishment of cathedral.
His comments, follow the recent public outcry over government’s plans to evict judges from their current residence to make way for the construction.
Speaking to Accra-based Citi News, Rev. Opuni-Frimpong, said the Council might consider other options as far as the siting of the Cathedral is concerned.
“The President invited us. In fact, we have held several meetings and he shared his idea of having a national cathedral with us, something that the various heads of churches have all accepted. Now until last Saturday, when he raised that some Judges are occupying a particular place that the government is considering for the cathedral, we were not much aware. I got to know this for the first time. What we want to plead is that let us stretch our patience.”
“If what the President would want to consider has a challenge, I think we will need to look for somewhere else. Or if there are no legal challenges and the President can facilitate the acquisition of that land then we make sure all the necessary things are done.”
Media reports on Monday, indicated that about nine Judges of the Court of Appeal, including many other residents within the earmarked area, were being evicted to enable construction works to begin.
It has also been reported that the demolition of structures within the area, and their subsequent reconstruction, will be a huge financial burden on the public purse.
A letter from the acting Chief Justice at the time, Justice Julius Ansah, apologized to the affected judges for not being given ample time to vacate the place. The letter, which has been sighted by Citi News, said the judges were not provided with “timely written notification to relocate.”
President Akufo-Addo in 2017, cut the sod for the construction of a National Cathedral to serve as a national non-denominational Christian worship centre for the country.
But the relocation of the judges was only confirmed in writing on July 24, in a letter from the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry.
Justice Julius Ansah, admitted that this was not proper.
“Although I admit that since the agreement in principle had been reached, it would have been proper to give you a hint at least.”
In the long term, the government is constructing new residences for judges at Cantonments.
“The government has committed to construct 21 new bungalows on the second Circular road, Cantonments to replace the old ones affected by the project. Construction of the new bungalow is expected to be completed and handed over to the Service by January 2020.”
In the meantime, the judges have been provided with “temporary residential buildings.”
Financiers of the cathedral, will pay the temporary accommodation for the judicial staff, including judges residing along the area earmarked for the national cathedral project.
The affected judges are; Justice F. Kusi Appiah, Justice Mariama Owusu, Justice Avril Lovelace-Johnson, Justice Magaret Welbourne, Justice Saeed Kwaku Gyan, Justice Lawrence L. Mensah, Justice Gbiel S. Suurbareh and Justice Anthony Oppong.
Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, a cousin of the President, has also waded into the controversy, insisting President is behind the idea to construct which he called something “which will end up being one of landmarks of the world”. He wrote:
I’m a little lost on this whole debate about the Cathedral. What really is the new issue? Were all these facts not available when the project was commissioned in March? Is it wrong for a Christian president to push for a national monument of a non-denominational Cathedral (which will end up being one of landmarks of the world) which WILL NOT be funded by taxpayers? In 2016, if our journalists can investigate, that whole enclave was being parceled quietly for a private developer (name withheld) who was going to bring down the houses occupied by judges and more in that same area to put up prestige apartments for the rich – to the exclusion of the public. I believe that would not have been controversial at all. After all, several buildings, including colonial ones occupied by Chief Justices and AGs, including Geoffrey Bing, in the 1950s were broken down in the 1990s (see 4th Circular Road, Cantonments) and after to make way for private homes for the rich.