The Chairman of the National Cathedral Board of Trustees, Apostle Professor Opoku Onyinah, has called for calm amidst agitations over the financing of the construction of the National Cathedral.

According to him, there is “nothing fishy about the monetary affairs” of the project.

While acknowledging that the allegations are “very serious,” he insisted that “we cannot betray the trust the nation through the president has given us.”

For some time now, Ghanaians have questioned the relevance of the project, cost, and procurement breaches. This has led to calls for the suspension and subsequent probe into utilising public funds for the National Cathedral.

One of the controversies has been around payments to the architect.

Reacting to this at a press briefing, the Secretary of the board, Kusi Boateng, said the government had pledged to pay Adjaye and Associates for the service.

“There is no secrecy surrounding this project, and at the right time, whatever needs to be published will be published, and whatever needs to be said will be said,” he added.

The secretariat believed it has been getting support from all Ghanaians amid the criticism of the project.

One of the points of contention has been the lack of clarity on the amount of money the secretariat has been able to raise for the project.

But Prof. Onyinah stressed that “the church must mobilise themselves to raise funds to build the project.”

While he said the secretariat was open to providing information on the project, he said it could not speak to procurement issues and parliamentary approval of disbursement of government funds.

“We appeal to all of you to allow these procedural issues to be addressed at their levels,” Prof. Onyinah said.

Background

The building of the Cathedral fulfils a pledge President Akufo-Addo revealed he made to God before winning the 2016 elections.

In 2019, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, said the construction of the National Cathedral is estimated to cost over $100 million.

It has since been amended to $340 million.

The government has already demolished all structures on the proposed site to construct the National Cathedral at Ridge in Accra, and work is progressing.

It is also scheduled to be commissioned on March 6, 2024.

The 5,000-seater auditorium project will also bequeath to the country a gracious national park for all Ghanaians, bring new skills, technology and jobs, and act as a beacon to national, regional and international tourists.

Controversies

Two weeks ago, the populace started questioning the project’s source of financing when the North Tongue MP put out documents showing that an amount to ¢200 million has been dished out towards the construction of the project.

These monies, he said, were dished out without recourse to parliamentary processes or strict public procurement practices.

According to Mr Ablakwa, the Akufo-Addo administration first proclaimed the project as a private and personal pledge; however, public funds are now siphoned to facilitate the task.

He added that the inclusion of the National Cathedral’s Executive Director on the roll of Presidential Staffers also flies in the face of the law.

“When you go through the list of Board of Trustees, this gentleman [Dr Paul Opoku Mensah] who has been enlisted here as the Executive Director of the Secretariat, a Secretariat presented as a private entity, has also been enlisted as a Presidential staffer and his position there is an overseer of the National Cathedral.

“Why is the Ghanaian taxpayer paying somebody who works for a private board of trustees?” he quizzed.

His revelation has gotten many influential individuals and pressure groups questioning the transparency and accountability of government.