President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Most Rev. Philip Naameh has said the National Cathedral project is not a priority for Ghana at the time the country is facing several economic challenges and hardships.
According to him, the intention behind the initiative, though a good one, cannot be justified in the face of the current challenges facing the country.
The prelate, who is also the Archbishop of Tamale in an interview said he agrees with critics of the National Cathedral project taking into consideration the economy and the fact that structures had to be destroyed to make way for the cathedral to be built.
“Naturally at this time, I will agree with you and many other critics that when you look at the economy and things that had to be destroyed in other that the cathedral may come on, we can say that it is definitely not a priority,” Archbishop Naameh said.
Commenting on the conversations the source of funding for the project has generated, Archbishop Naameh explained that as promised by the president, it is expected that he look for funding and not use state resources for the project.
He however noted that the Bishops’ Conference will prefer to be quiet on the development until it receives statutes of the project it has requested in order to take informed decisions on the subject.
“The whole thing started with the president who said he had a vision and he made a promise to God that if he was elected president, this is what he will do for God. And so everybody expected that he was going to look for the money and he has also promised that he was not going to use the tax payers money for it. So these are facts that are on the table but I wouldn’t want to comment on them now,”
“But to say that at this present stage it is not a priority, that one I can say. We will prefer to be quiet until we receive the statutes which will contain the management and all that which we have requested for,” Archbishop Naameh explained.
The Archbishop however stressed that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference still do not have an entrenched position on the project. Indicating the that, the statutes which will inform its decision has not been provided despite the fact that they (The Bishops) have made a request for it some three years ago.
He added that although Vice President of the Conference, Most Rev. Charles G. Palmer- Buckle is serving on the board of the the National Cathedral, he was hand picked by the president and not representing the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
It will be recalled that the Bishop’s Conference at the opening of its 2021 Plenary Assembly at the St. Andrew Cathedral in Wa on November 8, lamented the rising cost of living in the country.
Archbishop Naameh in an address said though Ghanaians are wallowing in poverty, persons with power are unconcerned.
He stressed that there are concerns about good governance in the country and especially, in the management of public resources for the common good in Ghana.
He said, ”perceived corruption and corruptible practices by politicians and other politically exposed persons are taking a toll on the national economy and making the poverty situation to grow more dismal and progressively. Poverty is grinding down millions of people all over the country.”
“Prices of essentials are rising daily. People seem to struggle to keep families and lives together. Though poverty stirs us in the face, it appears lost to those with power,” he added.
The National Cathedral project has come under intense criticism after several reports of scandals in the media with the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) being a loud opponent.
Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, feels the government’s construction of the National Cathedral is indicative that Ghanaians are being taken for granted.
He argues that the Nana Akufo-Addo led governement has been disingenuous with the project, describing it as the biggest presidential scandal in the country’s political history.
Mr. Ablakwa’s comments come after he claimed that the National Cathedral project is a private entity contrary to claims that it is state-owned, plus allegations that some members of the Board of Trustees have not been registered as such and have been substituted.
“This is why we are pushing for a bi-partisan committee probe into this whole National Cathedral rot, which is emerging as the biggest presidential scandal. It is the most putrefying presidential heist in the entire history of the fourth republic. And we think that we must have a special probe to really delve into all the matters because anytime the government makes claims, every angle of it is a breach”, Mr. Ablakwa said in an interview with Citi FM.
Meanwhile, MP for Ashaiman, Ernest Norgbey, is set to sue the government for sole-sourcing the architectural design contract for the National Cathedral to Sir David Adjaye and Associates Limited.
But the National Cathedral of Ghana insists that the National Cathedral has been registered as a private entity.
Its Executive Director, Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah in a statement clarified that the project is a non-profit organisation owned by the state.