I ponder over some developments in Ghana – my dear country. I am worried about the intended national cathedral. But, this is a project that most clergy seem not to have a problem with.
The Bible admonishes that one must first do what is most important before engaging in other things. In this case, bread and butter issues must take priority. Access to potable water, efficient basic healthcare, and good infrastructure etc, are the urgent needs of an average Ghanaian.
Regardless of the fact that the proposed Cathedral project is not a priority, is it not even wrong to have the clergy virtually cede oversight responsibility and construction of the cathedral project to the government? “Ordinary men” don’t build a place of worship.
In 1 Chronicles 28:3, when King David, a man who virtually became known as a friend to the Lord, elected himself to construct a place of worship for the Lord, he was told by God to be unfit to do so. That is even King David.
Now, is it not confounding the way the project is being executed? Contrary to a normal construction procedure, a sod cutting ceremony was done in 2017 and that was followed a year later by the unveiling of the project plan. From the look of things, we might just have in 2019 an unveiling of the person(s) behind the sketching of the project plan. Confounding? Not so?
The decision of the government to go ahead with the cathedral project has been attracting some harsh criticisms from members of the public.
Samson Lardy Ayenini, for instance, puts out on Newsfile: “I ask why we cannot find land in Accra for it, but to embark on demolition of all buildings [sited] from the Ridge Circle to the Scholarship Secretariat, the Judicial Training Institute at East Ridge, the Passport Office and other structures?
“That’s a long stretch and vast acres of prime land hosting many expensive buildings. That’s the area that hosts about 10 six-bedroom bungalows built only five years ago by the Judicial Service to house Court of Appeal Judges. The many residents, including nine judges, have been served quit orders to vacate the area immediately.
“The government has rented alternative expensive bungalows for the judges to relocate temporarily, while it begins construction of over twenty new bungalows on a different land in replacement for what it is going to destroy to make way for the cathedral. Lands Minister Peter Amewu further assures those affected that lands will be found to reconstruct the institutions to be destroyed in this area.”
For me, that we cannot effectively provide accommodation for judges but had to pull down what has been provided by others a few years ago, including key office structures and institutions, to make way for a 5,000-seater capacity cathedral is worrying. It speaks to our priorities and why our country is what it is.
Ominous silence of the clergy
More worrying is the silence of the clergy, particularly the concerned ones. Knowing the developmental needs of our country, I feel some members of the clergy should be the first to offer alternative solutions since “the mad dog” is only going to realise he was misled much later after the decision, as happened in the AMERI case.
One huge challenge the project could present if undertaken is vehicular traffic. Very critical by-passes and access roads in and around the Ridge Passport Office, including Gamel Abdul Nasser Avenue, Forth Avenue, Modibo Keita Close and Haile Selassie Street, already look badly threatened in terms of accessibility and could compound traffic situations in that enclave and possibly beyond.
Who really needs cathedral?
Who really needs a cathedral? Today, crime in our society is on the ascendancy. Marriages are collapsing, while indiscipline in our society is at worrying levels. There is glaring despair on the faces of many, but most of the people who cause these despairs are milking the country dry. The victims of their ineptitude are in their homes, markets, and ghettos etc and should not be expected to throng the fanciful cathedral, because they don’t need it. They need to stay alive and they are have been making effort to eke out living.
The question some are asking is that, of all the lands in Ghana, including the virgin areas in Accra, why the interest in that particular land? What becomes of the constant talk to “decongest” main Accra by relocating some establishments to outer suburbs and new areas of the capital? All those talks are dead.
Secular government bearing cost of building religious temple
Most shocking is the Akufo Addo government’s preparedness to bear the cost of the cathedral project and related expenses while offering excuses of lack of resources to execute critical development projects, such as the revamping of the abandoned Eastern Corridor road, abandoned Bolga–Bawku road, abandoned Ho–Sokode dual carriageway, abandoned Community Day SHS blocks and many other education projects. Cocoa Road is abandoned, while government also have several abandoned hospital projects. Even market projects are abandoned. With lots of abandoned projects dotting the country, what is the essence of coughing out public funds to fund a cathedral project that cannot be of any economic benefit to the people of Ghana?
- Koku Mawuli Nenegbe, a newspaper columnist, writes from Accra, Ghana