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Opinions Tue, 14 Mar 2017

Government has no business building cathedrals

By: Ben Ofosu – Appiah

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, on the morning of 6th March 2017, cut the sod to start the construction of a brand new Cathedral by the state to be used for interdenominational services according to news report. In his address to mark the 60th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, he mentioned this act as "a very important duty" that he had to perform on his way to the independence Square in Accra to address the nation.

This is a misplaced priority. The government of Ghana has no business using our limited resources to build a Cathedral. The principle of separation of the state and the church must be adhered to. The people of this country did not vote for change for the government to use our limited resources to build Cathedrals. So after the Cathedral, what next? A national mosque? A national shrine to honour Okomfo Anokye? The government must not meddle in religion.

Needless to say, Ghana has so many pressing needs competing for attention and the needed resources to tackle. Government must focus on its core mandate of building infrastructure, like schools, hospitals, roads, ensuring uninterrupted electricity supply at affordable prices, clean water, affordable housing, affordable petroleum products, good public health delivery system, protect the environment, create good economic conditions for businesses to thrive, create jobs for the youth, improve public transport, increase cocoa production, produce enough food to feed ourselves, clean up our dirty surroundings and the environment, ensure public safety, improve educational system, adequately fund mental health care delivery in this country, etc. etc. The list is endless. We have too many developmental challenges, construction of a Cathedral is not one of them.

I was in Yamoussoukro Cote d'Ivoire recently and visited Our Lady of Peace Basilica which is acclaimed as the largest church in the World by the Guinness Book of Records. Yes, larger than the Saint Peters Basilica in Rome! I couldn't help but to remark to my guide who spoke perfect English "what a colossal waste of resources" that project was. Built in the late 1980’s, the cost of construction was estimated in excess of USD $600million. In today’s terms that is over one billion USD.

We are in 2017 and one would have thought that the foolishness behind the erection of the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast would not be repeated anywhere in the world let alone in this impoverished part of the World. Oh, Africa do we learn at all, impoverish Africa.

Why a national cathedral in Ghana? Is Ghana short of temples and the noise that comes with them? Ghana today has mega churches springing up all over the place with mega temples, tabernacles, synagogues, and dome shaped buildings. Why spend our meagre national resources to add up to these. Look at the deplorable condition of our hospitals, the filth engulfing our major cities/towns, the poor infrastructure, the horrible condition of some of the primary schools in the country. Really?! Is the building of a national Cathedral the best use of our collective resources? Are our leaders and their advisors that shallow in thinking? Geeeze! God himself must be feeling sad for us, as a people and I suspect that Jesus must be weeping over the conception of such thoughtless proposition.

We need to build Hospitals, quality roads, schools with quality education, etc not a Cathedral.

Nana Addo, this is wrong. No, it is misuse of our scarce national resources, plain and simple. This must stop.

Columnist: Ben Ofosu – Appiah