The President of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) of Ghana, Apostle Abraham Amoh, has waded into the controversy surrounding the construction of the national cathedral in Accra as he rather wants it to be funded with the tax payer’s money since it will serve the interest of the nation.
According to him, the construction of the cathedral was long overdue and the decision to spearhead its construction by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was in the right direction as it would be used for religious and national ceremonies.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Kumasi, Apostle Amoh commended the President for having the vision of blessing the nation with such a monument since it would enhance the nation’s development.
He said looking at the crucial role Christianity had played in the nation’s history, the government funding such a national monument would not be out of place at all since it would rather motivate the Christian community in the country to work extra hard towards the development of the nation.
The national cathedral, expected to have 5000 seating capacity, is a planned interdenominational Christian cathedral scheduled to be built in Accra as part of Ghana's 60th anniversary celebrations.
President Akufo-Addo pledged the construction of a national cathedral and cut the sod for its construction last year.
A piece of land has been secured, architectural works completed and the Christian community tasked to use innovative means to pool resources for the construction.
The initiative, siting and the funding of the project have for the past months generated several debates at various levels as some condemned its urgency, lack of cash, among other issues.
Apostle Amoh, wondered why some Ghanaians, including some Christians, would rush into condemning the construction of such an important facility needed badly by the nation.
The president of CAC expressed surprised at those lamenting that the nation did not have enough cash at the moment so it should be suspended until such a time when the nation had enough funds.
“Are those people telling me former President Kwame Nkrumah waited till the nation had enough cash before he constructed the Akosombo Dam, Tema Harbour, Tema Motorway and many other projects which the nation is benefiting from today?”, Apostle Amoh asked.
The soft-spoken Apostle urged membership of the various faith-based organisations in the country to throw their weight behind the construction of the cathedral since it was not going to benefit only the Christian community but the entire nation.
Apostle Amoh stated that, “would the construction of the national edifice prevent the construction of schools, health facilities, roads, as well as smooth execution of other social intervention initiatives of the nation, of course no, why then must a group of people gang up against such a good project that can promote national development and peace”.
He wondered why people were quiet as governments kept supporting Muslims every year to embark on a pilgrimage to Mecca, as well as the donations sent to the Muslim community every year during the Ramadan fasting period in the country.
“No Christian has spoken against the donations and support presented to Muslims by the government during Hajj and during the Ramadan fast because as Christians, we respect other religions and support their co-existence hence the peace that prevails in the country as well as we all do things as one people”, Apostle Amoh said.
But TUC kicks against it
Meanwhile, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Ghana has called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to shelve the plan of constructing a national cathedral.
It said there were issues of national importance that the government could use the scarce resources to address instead of building a national cathedral.
It said failure to heed the appeal of the TUC would result in the organised labour body inviting Ghanaians to join the TUC to campaign vehemently against what it called “this misplaced priority and to protect the national purse”.
A statement signed by its Secretary-General, Dr Yaw Baah, and issued in Accra yesterday, said the TUC would continue to support the government initiatives that sought to address the social and economic challenges facing the country, including the President’s vision of Ghana Beyond Aid, the Free SHS programme, the Nation Builders Corps (NaBCo) programme and similar progressive projects.
“But we cannot support the construction of a national cathedral. We believe even the Good Lord will not approve this project, given the social and economic challenges facing Ghana today,” it said.
It said the national cathedral could never and should never be a “priority among priorities” as President Akufo-Addo was reported to have said of the cathedral.
It said more than six million Ghanaians currently did not have access to clean water while one out of every four Ghanaian children was affected by chronic malnutrition; anaemia affected 66 per cent of young children and 42 per cent of women of child-bearing age, and only 15 per cent of urban residents and six per cent of rural residents had access to sanitation facilities.
It said a very significant number of households lacked access to toilet facilities and so open defecation was quite common, whereas there was only one doctor for 8,000 Ghanaians compared to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) standard of one doctor for 5,000 people, while in some regions there was only one doctor for over 50,000 residents.
The statement said many children were dying needlessly from malaria and other preventable diseases while the amount of money available for health care for Ghanaians under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was just about GH¢120 per person per year.
“Pregnant and nursing mothers and their babies are sleeping on wooden benches and in hallways in.