- As Gov’t vaguely use “seed money” to endlessly dish out money for controversial National Cathedral project
It is emerging that, the Akufo-Addo administration, has sent Ghanaians on an unknown journey with the construction of the controversial National Cathedral project to allow government elements to hijack the state coffers and hold blank cheques which they sign and cash out at will.
Additional 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.
Some of the 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.
It is clear that while the citizens are having difficulties seeing the benefits of the project conceived on a Presidential ambition, some politicians in the executive arm of government are endlessly cashing huge sums in the name of contracts executed under the National Cathedral by their cronies.
The National Cathedral is turning out to be more expensive to Ghana, aside relocating judge’s from their newly constructed official bungalows and checked into private properties at huge cost to the country, Ghana’s Passport Office, was also pulled down with GHC10 million being used to put up a fresh office.
Additionally, land has been allocated near the Ghana International School (GIS) in Cantonments, Accra to build a new bungalow enclave for the judges.
The Malian Ambassador’s residence, which was also pulled down to pave way for the Cathedral, is also awaiting action with suggestions that the Akufo-Addo government, could be blowing additional money from the Ghanaian taxpayers to put up a house for the ambassador at an unknown location.
This according to the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, is confirming the stance of the Minority NDC that the National Cathedral project is a rip-off.
He spoke on Accra-based Asempa FM, lamenting about the huge sums being wasted on the project in the name of “Seed Money for the Construction of the National Cathedral”.
It is not clear, when the “Seed Money” which was shot down in November 2018 as “illegal” by Dr Donimic Ayine of the Bolgatanga East Constituency in the Upper East Region, on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), was going to end.
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 members of the 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 entitled; “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”.
A petition, from Design Associates Development Consortium, a local architectural firm, cited legal breaches in the award of multiple projects to Sir David Adjaye.
Architect Nii Dadey, who was the President of Institute, said concerns by a consortium of Ghanaian architects against projects awarded to Sir David Adjaye, a UK-based Ghanaian Architect, are justified and called on the government to pursue fairness.
In 2019 on the MultiTV’s current affairs programme, PM Express, Nii Dadey, said local Architects feel sidelined by the government, mainly, and other private institutions for iconic projects awarded to persons or groups who are not recognised by the Institute — in contravention of the law.
It was discovered last week that the Akufo-Addo government, has gone contrary to its promise not to dip its hands into state coffers to finance the construction of the controversial National Cathedral, as a letter has emerged, revealing how the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, authorized the release of a whopping GHS25 million for the project.
The money was disbursed on the instruction of the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, to a private company called, RIBADE Limited, whose ownership for now remains a mystery just like the cost of putting up the National Cathedral, which President Akufo-Addo, had announced was not going to come from state coffers, but from the generosity of Ghanaians.
Deeply buried in this revelation, is the daylight flouting of public procurement laws of the country by the Presidency, the Ministry of Finance and the Men of God, put in charge of the project and given an office accommodation at the Jubilee House and paid monthly salaries as the construction of the Cathedral, has not gone through any competitive tender process as required by law.
The money from the state coffers, according to the Finance Minister; one of the biggest fan of the project conceived on a pledge made to God by Nana Akufo-Addo, for him to be made President of Ghana, was dropped into a private bank account at CAL Bank PLC on the 23 Independence Avenue, Accra.
The account has the Brank Code: 140101 and is in the name of RIBADE Limited with the account number provided as 1400005311488 and the Swift Code as ACCCGHAC.
A letter dated March 31, 2022 and bearing the signature of Mr. Ofori-Atta with heading “Seed Money For The Construction Of The National Cathedral” ordered the Controller and Accountant General saying “please refer to letter No.SCR/DE3/296/02 dated 17th March, 2022 from the Chief of Staff, Office of the President and National Cathedral of Ghana’s memo dated 28th March, 2022 on the above subject”.
“Authority is hereby granted you to release the sum GHC25, 000, 000, 00 (Twenty- Five Million Ghana Cedis) 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”.
It is unclear for now who the owners of RIBADE Limited are and how they got the National Cathedral job which has witnessed many fundraising events in Ghana, America, Israel and other places like churches.
An office has been created at the Presidency with some prominent pastors tied to the NPP put in-charge. They are on salaries from Ghanaian taxpayers.
At least the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast, the Most Reverend Charles Gabriel Palmer- Buckle of the Roman Catholic and presiding archbishop and general overseer of the Action Chapel International ministry, Nicholas Duncan-Williams have many times been in and out fundraising events for the project.
Most of these amounts from the fundraising have not been disclosed to Ghanaians.
The Finance Minister letter, had said that “the payment should be effected to the account details detailed below:
Name of Bank: CAL Bank PLC
Bank Branch: 23 Independence Avenue, Accra Ghana
Brank Code: 140101
Account Name: RIBADE Limited
Account Nr: 1400005311488
Swift Code: ACCCGHAC
“MDAs and MMDAS are to note that, the understated clause is required to be inserted in all Contracts/Agreements in order for them to be paid: “Pursuant to Section 96(1) of the Public Financial Management Act. 2016 (Act 921), it is an offence to make an unauthorized commitment resulting in a financial obligation for the Government.
“I (RIBADE LIMITED) understand and acknowledge that any unauthorized letter of guarantee or undertaking issued under this contract is unlawful, null and void, ab initio, and is not legally binding on Government. I understand, acknowledge and agree that any judgment or garnishee order that may be in my favor as a result of a breach of this contract shall only be enforceable against (OGM), shall not be enforceable against any other ministry, department or agency of the Government of Ghana that is not a party to this contract. I understand that “unauthorized letter of guarantee or undertaking” means one that has not been approved by the Ministry of Finance.
“The total expenditure of GHC25,000,000.00, should be charged as per attached Specific Warrant.
In March 2017, Reverend Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, said that Akufo-Addo government was not financing the national cathedral for Christians in the country, but only facilitating its construction.
The President had cut the sod for the construction of the chapel to mark the 60th anniversary of the country. The ceremony was on the morning of the 60th Independence Day at the National Scholarship Secretariat.
James Kwabena Bomfeh, a member of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), later filed a writ at the Supreme Court challenging the government’s decision to build the cathedral arguing that Ghana is a secular state and must officially remain neutral in matters of religion. Mr Bomfeh does not believe it is the place of government to undertake such projects.
One Osofo Kofitse Ahadzi, a cultural anthropologist and senior member of the Afrikania Mission, has spoken against it and wondered if that should be a priority for government but speaking on Accra-based Class FM, Rev Opuni-Frimpong said government was not funding the project.
“Our understanding of this national cathedral…I have had a conversation with the Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Kofi Dzamesi, and my understanding is that it is the churches that are going to build this national cathedral. In his words, government is going to facilitate…but what will go into the facilitation as at now we don’t know,” he told show host Moro Awudu.
He noted that the government had supported religious projects in the past and so facilitating the construction of the national cathedral would be nothing new.
“Now we know that there are several projects in this country – whether churches are building schools, hospitals and several of church projects – that district chief executives, regional ministers, Members of Parliament and, sometimes, sitting presidents have made donations to. There have been instances where private religious institutions have received support from government.
“There have been instances that the Ghana Journalists Association under President Kufuor has donated towards religious projects. There have been instances that religious leaders have received support and donations… So now what exactly government is going to do on this national cathedral is what we don’t know. But governments over the years have facilitated religious development projects and this is not new to us,” he emphasised.