Once upon a time, a former boss of mine said to me that “none is righteous.”
That was because he saw my eyebrows raised due to an assertion he had made.
I contested his declaration initially. However, after thinking through it for a while, I remembered a task we were given by our General Paper lecturer at Extra-Mural Academy where I had my GCE A-Level education. The topic was Logic and we were requested to examine the statement; “Kwaku stole a goat, so Kwaku is a thief.”
Having been equipped with knowledge on fallacy of hasty generalization earlier, I set out to analyse the statement. My script turned out to be one of the best. And the lecturer read it out in class.
Here is what I wrote: A thief is someone who habitually takes what does not belong to him or her. In other words, a thief is a person who steals other people’s properties all the time. Therefore, Kwaku can be said to be a thief if it is his habit to steal things that belong to other people. On the other hand, Kwaku may not be a thief because he may have been compelled under this particular circumstance to steal the goat, sell and use the proceeds to address an emergency situation. Stated differently, Kwaku is a circumstantial thief.
Juxtaposed with the ‘none is righteous’ assertion by my former boss, one can surmise that righteous persons can be compelled by circumstances beyond control, to become unrighteous. No?
Building a house of God
I have had to recall this matter and relate it here because the kind of revelations that keep coming from the stalled National Cathedral project keep confusing me. On one hand, my former boss’ statement that “none is righteous” keeps ringing in my ears. On the other hand is the concept of fallacy of hasty generalization which draws my attention to the need to be wary of the allegations that have been made.
Having said that, my confusion stems from the fact that right from the word go, President Akufo-Addo told us that no tax payers’ money will be used in constructing the edifice. The indication was that it is a personal pledge he made to God and the Christian community will help him build it to the glory of God.
Then suddenly, Members of Parliament on the NDC side revealed that some money from state coffers had been spent on the project. This amount, they claimed, was not approved by Parliament.
When the Minister of Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta got the opportunity to respond to the issue, he said he took the money from a Contingency Vault. As a student of Public Sector Accounting, I heard this for the first time. I am used to Consolidated Fund and Contingency Fund.
Meanwhile, the oxford dictionary defines contingency as “a provision for a possible event or circumstance” or “an incidental expense.” Obviously, the expenditure on the National Cathedral cannot be an incidental expense or provision for possible event.
Former Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo agrees with this position. According to him, the Contingency Vault is a creation of a former Minister of Finance through which they channel money they do not want to account for. Speaking on JoyNews’ The Pulse on Monday, 23rd January, 2023, the ‘chased out’ Auditor-General called on Parliament to scrap the Contingency Vault because “it is unlawful.”
Indeed, there is no way the National Cathedral project could pass for a contingency item. That is because the government planned and commenced the execution of the project. Before then, public and private buildings were demolished to make way for its construction.
Currently, a private company called Waterstone Realty Apartment Complex, has sued the Lands Commission for GHȼ120 million in damages for the demolition of its two-storey building complex located on the land earmarked for the construction of the National Cathedral. Undoubtedly, this and other amounts that may be paid as judgement debt or compensation in this regard, will be drawn from the tax payer’s money- The Consolidated Fund.
So, why was the required amount not captured explicitly in the budget submitted to Parliament for approval, the moment it was decided by the presidency that we Ghanaians must provide seed money for the project?
So many issues about amounts paid as consultancy fees when the project is still at foundational level, have also come up. Indeed, indications are that the project has stalled because the contractor says there is no money. This was subsequently confirmed by the Director of the National Cathedral Secretariat Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah.
So far, an estimated GHȼ339 million of tax payers’ money is said to have been spent on the project. This amount, we have been made to believe, is our seed contribution. Yet all one sees in visuals available is a deep excavation on the site.
Well-meaning people have called for a cessation of the project but President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (NADAA) says, “I am very determined that come what may, I have two more years, whatever the case, the National Cathedral will be at a very advanced stage before I leave office.”
Advanced stage? But why? For who to continue? Does it mean NADAA conceived the idea and commenced the project without putting his finger on where the funding will come from? I mean you demolish all those useful structures based on a whim? I don’t get it.
So, I was in the process of chewing on this statement, trying very hard to make use of the concept of fallacy of hasty generalization so I don’t get it twisted, when the North Tongu MP, Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa revealed that an amount of GHȼ2.6 million had been transferred from the National Cathedral Secretariat’s account into a private company’s account.
As it turned out, the Secretary to the Board of Trustees of the National Cathedral, Rev Kusi Boateng, aka Kwabena Adu Gyamfi, is a director of the company – JNS Talent Centre Limited. Strangely, the Executive Director of the National Cathedral explained that the amount transferred was a refund to JNS Talent Centre Limited for loaning the money to them.
“…this was not an illegal payment but rather a refund of a short-term interest-free loan made by JNS to top up the payments to the contractors of the National Cathedral. This support was sought from a National Cathedral Trustee Member, Rev Kusi Boateng, in a letter dated August 26, 2021, due to a delay in the receipt of funds to pay the contractors on time,” he said.
But for fallacy of hasty generalization, I would have asked, an individual loaned the government of Ghana GHȼ2.6 million? Not through Treasury Bills or bonds, but a direct interest-free loan? Has money finished in the Contingency Vault? My confusion intensified when Kwabena Adu Gyamfi, sorry, Rev Kusi Boateng, reacted to the allegation.
“I wish to assure the general public that the statements made by Mr. Ablakwa are a twisted narration of events to pursue a malicious political agenda,” he said.
Like how? I expected a straight “What Mr. Ablakwa said is not true.” Why this use of grammar to bamboozle us? Once again, circumstantial ‘none is righteous’ popped up in my mind but fallacy of hasty generalization kicked it out.
Forsaken by men of God
Hardly had I finished digesting this veiled admission of wrong by Rev Kusi Boateng did I hear about the shocking account of the revered Bishop Dag Heward Mills who resigned from the Board in August 2022.
“If I say that I, as a trustee, do not know many of the financial and technical issues concerning the Cathedral, it means the discussions about the National Cathedral were held by some people outside the trustees’ meeting or perhaps in a forum that I was not present or invited to.”
“On the one hand, the National Cathedral is said to be a Government of Ghana project, with the government taking financial decisions. Yet, on another hand, at meetings, it is implied that the trustees have taken or participated in taking some decisions,” he lamented.
Members of the Board of Trustees who we were told are responsible for generating funds, do not discuss financial issues at Board meetings? What then do they discuss? Building drawings?
Well, before Bishop Dag resigned, Pastor Mensa Otabil dissociated himself from the project. At least, that is what the executive Secretary of the National Cathedral told us.
Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah in a statement explained that “prior to the registration of the members of the Board of Trustees in 2019, Dr. Otabil opted out since he could not give the needed attention to the project. So, Dr. Mensa Otabil did not resign from the Board as being alleged, but excused himself at the point of registration of the Directors in July, 2019.
Whatever made Dr. Otabil to accept his nomination to be on the board, but held on to registering and eventually excusing himself, apart from what we have been told, can only be imagined.
Then comes in Archbishop Duncan Williams and Rev. Eastwood Anaba, also members of the Board of Trustees. Apparently concerned by the startling revelations and other happenings regarding the project, the two clergymen called for its suspension pending the outcome of an independent audit.
“…in the spirit and cause of transparency and accountability to the Ghanaian people, the current Board of Trustees of the National Cathedral shall appoint an independent, nationally recognised accounting firm to audit all public funds contributed to and spent by the National Cathedral. Auditors will also audit the overall cost of the project,” excerpts of a memo they jointly signed and addressed to the Board, requested.
They also said the project should not continue until the economic conditions in the country have improved. “That current activities advancing the construction of Ghana’s National Cathedral shall be deferred until the atmospherics in Ghana are improved and the audit of the Cathedral account is done,” they added.
This, for me, is evidence of objectivity and logical thinking. Particularly, of Eastwood Anaba. I have never paid much attention to him until recently when he made a statement during a sermon that endeared him to me so much. And it had to do with logic.
He said something to the effect that if children are a gift from God, He will not allow prostitutes to have them when devout Christians do not have any.
Is this not true? That some devout Christians have searched for the fruit of the womb for many years to no avail, while non-religious persons get impregnated after one night stands? That even rape incidents result in pregnancies much as teenagers get impregnated when they play mum and dad? That was just by the way.
It’s time to go
It is in the spirit of logical thinking that I add my voice to the calls for NADAA to abandon the personal pledge to build a national cathedral for God.
I can hear some of his apologists say what nonsense! What becomes of the money sank into the ground? There is a saying in our local languages which translates thus, ‘whatever has been eaten, they should eat it, what is left, we shall protect’. Therefore, to that person, verily, verily I say unto thee, thou art manifold uses to which we can put that land located in a prime area in Accra and the deep hole in it. I shall mention only two here:
One: Sell it for the construction of modern office complexes of the kind of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Shippers’ House, Ridge Tower, SU Tower, Advantage House, Ecobank Head Office, the Octagon and Accra’s answer to the World Trade Centre, all located within the same vicinity as the botched National Cathedral.
Two: Sell it to an estate development company to build skyscraper accommodation facilities for the working class who on a daily basis troop to the central business district to work and return to their homes located three to four hours’ drive away. These workers spend an average of five hours in traffic to and from work every day.
I make this suggestion because currently, there is a growing phenomenon of workers who have managed to build houses on the outskirts of Accra, abandoning their homes for rented accommodation within Accra in order to avoid the stress and cost of commuting. They return home on Friday nights and on Sunday evenings they repeat the routine.
This development is quite revealing given that prospective land owners in the Greater Accra Region will soon have none to buy. Aburi, Nsawam, Tsopoli and Winneba will be their closest options. The situation becomes dire if one considers the fact that there is no evidence of a plan to introduce speed trains into the transport mix in our national capital.
NADAA, if you do this for Gyankroma’s children and her children’s children, their friends and family, God will say unto you “for what thou hath done, I forgo my cathedral that ye promised”.
By this gesture, your name will go into our history books as the President who anticipated a humongous housing challenge for the working class and sacrificed his pledge to God to resolve it.
Those powerful men of God who forsook your house of God and who in my opinion think logically, will in the spirit of forgiveness, intercede on your behalf when you embark on that eternal trip to the bosom of God. So, fear not!
This is the word of logical thinking. Those who have ears, let them hear. Unless there is some circumstantial ‘non-righteousness’ at play.
Hamba kahle – That’s goodbye in Zulu.
Let God Lead! Follow Him directly, not through any human.
The writer works at Myjoyonline.com. He is also the author of two books whose contents share knowledge on how anyone desirous of writing like him can do so. Eric can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org. The two books cost GHC80.00.
- My divorce drew me closer to God – New EC member Rev. Akua Ofori Boateng
- Russia ‘will bomb any country that arrests Putin’ – Former Russian president
- Beige Bank case: Nyinaku accused of issuing misleading investment certificates to unsuspecting customers
- I was praised for singing Teni’s song in church – New EC member
- ‘Hatred or truth’ – Woman’s message to son’s girlfriend shocks social media users
- Crackdown on fraudulent payrolls as Fair Wages and Salaries Commission hints at audit
- Directing CID to probe Jubilee House ‘galamsey’ claims could be plot to clear officials of wrongdoing – Dr Apaak
- Afena-Gyan turns down Black Meteors invitation for AFCON qualifier against Algeria
- AFCON 2023Q: Mohammed Salisu only fitness doubt ahead of Angola clash
- Proposed tax measures not new; will boost fiscal economy – Finance Ministry
- The rising level of air pollution in West Africa
- Livestream: Parliament debates report on Akufo-Addo’s new Ministerial appointees
- Energy Ministry isn’t indebted to ECG; there was no disconnection of power supply – Egyapa Mercer
- 6-packs come with a risk of depression
- Fish farmers call for government support to address sector challenges
- Avoid appointments that give impression of jobs for boys and girls – Joyce Bawa Morgtari tells Akufo-Addo
- Man jailed 180 days for fondling minor’s breast
- Lynx signee, Kasar, releases first single ‘Oyibo’
- Cedi improves in value against dollar; $1 now ¢12.40
- NDC flagbearership race: Kwabena Duffour submits nomination forms
- Kelvynboy reveals how he benefitted from Tekno, Stefflon Don feature on ‘Down Flat’ remix
- Social media reacts to Afena-Gyan’s rejection of Black Meteors call-up
- AFCON 2023Q Preview: Black Stars host Angola in Chris Hughton’s first game
- Funny Face opens up on relationship with Emmanuel Adebayor
- The Weeknd named world’s Most Popular Artist by Guinness World Records