Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah

The Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah has questioned government’s decision to erect a National Cathedral in the face of numerous challenges that confront the country.

According to him, he doubts whether God himself will be happy with the project, given the litany of unresolved issues that confront citizens.

Speaking in an interview with Benjamin Akakpo on the AM Show on Monday, he noted that, his reservations about the National Cathedral is not based on his orientation as a Muslim, as some may seek to suggest.

For Mr. Braimah, the decision by government to break down many prime infrastructure just to pave way for the Cathedral is what fuels his sentiments about the project. He therefore urged citizens to collectively rally behind the call for good governance in the country.

“On the Cathedral, what can I say? I mentioned the last time that any serious leader who is concerned about the future of this country and would want to see prosperity for the future of this country, would not be committing us to this needless expenditure at this time.

Why would you at this stage [when] people are suffering? Children are suffering, teachers are suffering, parents are suffering, nurses are suffering.

I mean suffering everywhere and the country is really under debt and then we have a President who decides to pull down state buildings which have been in place not too long ago and then to commit state resources, millions of it to say we are building a Cathedral. For who? I don’t think that even God will be happy with these actions that is happening”, he lamented.

Mr. Braimah also reiterated his disappointment in the Akufo-Addo regime. According to him, despite the lofty expectations which greeted Akufo-Addo’s assumption of office, Ghana has become worse under his watch.

In a related development, award-winning investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni, has added his voice to the raging public debate on the relevance of the National Cathedral and the cost involved in its construction.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, the ace investigative journalist also doubted if God would live in a Cathedral built on vile virtues.

Manasseh Azure therefore wrote, “God will not inhabit in a Cathedral built on lies, fraud and insensitivity”.

Even God will not be happy with National Cathedral amidst our current challenges - Sulemana Braimah

His comments were also in the wake of the revived public concern over government’s plans to construct a National Cathedral and the subsequent disbursement of GH¢25 million Ghana Cedis by government to support the project.

Meanwhile, touching on these concerns, a Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa has disclosed that Parliament has not approved any funds for the construction of the National Cathedral.

According to him, the purported release of GH¢25 million Ghana Cedis by government as seed money for the project is on the blind-side of the Legislature.

Addressing the press on Thursday, the NDC lawmaker therefore expressed his reservations about the lack of transparency and insincerity that has characterised the construction of the Cathedral.

In this regard, he stressed that the Minority is unhappy with the circumstances surrounding the funding of the project.

“This letter is confirming today that contrary to the claims of the President, the National Cathedral Project apparently is being heavily funded by tax payer resources.

We as members of Parliament have not approved all of these colossal sums of money that are being released to companies we are seeing for the first time. We are not even aware of the procurement processes that were followed for these companies and these consultants, who are today at the receiving end of hundreds of millions of Ghana Cedis”, he said.

He added that, “the other concern we have is that on the scale if priorities, looking at the current economic crisis, that we all find ourselves. The President himself has admitted that we are facing an economic crisis of our lifetime.

As we speak, NABCO trainees have not been paid for more than seven months. National Service personnel are owed. School feeding caterers are agitating. They’re on strike. They have not been paid. National Health Insurance is owed. The last time we looked at their arrears, government owes National Health Insurance more than two billion Ghana Cedis”.

He continued: “GETFUND is in arrears. District Assembly Common Fund is in arrears. We are here as Members of Parliament. The Common Fund has not been released. A country that has all of these pressing challenges. For 3 years, the government has not been able to provide textbooks to basic schools. Capitatuon grant is in arrears.

So if you have all for these challenges. Obligations that you’re not able to meet, and you’re asking everybody to tighten their belt to bear with you that there’s no money. How is it that you’re releasing these fantastic sum?”.

Earlier, a document from the Ministry of Finance showed the release of GH¢25 million to the National Cathedral Secretariat through the Ministry of Finance as additional seed money for the construction of the Cathedral.

Even God will not be happy with National Cathedral amidst our current challenges - Sulemana Braimah
A copy of the document detailing the disbursement of the seed money from government in aid of the National Cathedral

The money was to be credited to RIBADE Limited for part payment of outstanding claims, according to a letter signed by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to the Controller and Accountant’s General.

However, the Deputy Finance Minister, Dr. John Kumah has accused the Minority in Parliament of crying wolf where there is none in relation to the release of seed money for the National Cathedral project.

Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story on Thursday, Dr. Kumah stated that the misinterpretation and the spin that Minority is putting on the National Cathedral is what is creating the issues.

“This GH¢25 million contribution is also a payment to the priority project of government and they [Minority] don’t determine what is priority for President Akufo-Addo and his government”, he told host Evans Mensah.

Even God will not be happy with National Cathedral amidst our current challenges - Sulemana Braimah
A visual impression of the National Cathedral

Dr Kumah also added that there is nothing illegal about the letter signed by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to release GH¢25 million as seed money for the construction of the National Cathedral.

Even God will not be happy with National Cathedral amidst our current challenges - Sulemana Braimah
Dr John Ampontuah Kumah

According to him, “government has already been transparent and accountable to the people of Ghana on all occasions when this National Cathedral had come up. Government has stated its seriousness about that project and that it remains a priority to the government and that we are committed to build and we will do so in partnership with the private sector”.