The whimsical costing of the controversial National Cathedral has taken another absurd turn, as the secretariat claims it will now cost a staggering US$ 350 million to construct.
This amount is more than the planned cost of the Accra-Kumasi road construction and dualisation project, which is the most important road network in the country. The refusal of the government to extend funds into the road that accommodates over 34,000 vehicles every day, has resulted in thousands of accidents and deaths every year.
Yet, the National Cathedral Secretariat says it has increased the initial projected cost of constructing the extremely unpopular cathedral from US$250 million to $350 million.
This amount had earlier been increased from US$100 million with the Ghanaians government committing a significant bulk of the financing component of the project.
In an interview monitored on Accra-based Citi News, the Chief Executive Officer of the Secretariat, Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah disclosed that donations towards the construction continue to increase with a recent donation of about GH¢200,000 from the SDA Church.
He said they are hoping to raise the additional money before the edifice is completed.
“[We thought that] Instead of looking up to others to give us grant to run the programme, beyond the cost [of the structure], can we add about a $100 million just to ensure that we have resources in perpetuity,” he said.
“Normally for the endowment, you invest it, and you only use the interest so if we raise $100 million, every year, based on the interest, we will have some money… That is the target we have set for ourselves… We want to insist that, it is possible to do things differently. $250 million is for the building and the $100 million is for the endowment fund that will allow us to run this in a very progressive way,” he added.
However, the funding of the cathedral project has been shrouded in deep secrecy with the Akufo Addo government refusing to disclose exactly how much the government is pumping into the project.
Earlier, the government had claimed not a dime from Ghanaian taxpayers will go into the contentious cathedral. The government claimed all of the project will be financed by benevolent donors. But not long after the spirited denial of committing taxpayers’ funds into the project, Finance Minister inserted an initial amount of US$ 20 million as seed capital for the project.
This amount is different from almost US$ 100 million worth of land and public buildings that were destroyed on the 14-acre land to make way for the religious building.
Later, the government-held series of fundraising tours for the project. But it appears that failed because in July 2021, when the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta was reading the mid-year budget review he announced a taxing of one million Ghanaians to donate GHC 100 million monthly towards the construction of the cathedral.
“…An initiative; the GHC100 a month also dubbed “Ketoa Biaa Nsua” will be launched by the trustees of the National Cathedral on August 12, 2021, to give as many Ghanaians as possible the opportunity to be part of the history of the National Cathedral…the aim of the club is to raise one million Ghanaians who would give GHC100 a month for the construction of the national cathedral,” Ofori-Atta said, much to the chagrin of angry Ghanaians who are battling killer taxes that the Akufo Addo administration had slapped on them.
The anger from Ghanaians extends to traditional chiefs who thought the insensitive cathedral project was a slap on the faces of Ghanaians.
Recently, Nana Owusu Nyanin, the Chief of Kwamo in the Ejisu Juaben Municipal Assembly in the Ashanti Region voiced his displeasure at the project.
“I have always used flights for my journeys between Accra and Kumasi but recently I had to use the road for a trip to Accra. It is a death trap that has not been fixed for so many years and for any President or government to prioritize a cathedral over that road, I beg to differ. We already have a lot of churches here and when you look at the West, they are turning their churches into factories. I personally respect and like Nana Addo for his work but with all due respect I disagree with him,” he said.
The Akufo Addo administration’s adamancy in the construction of the cathedral has baffled critics, particularly when the government had clearly stated that it is a personal project of President Akufo Addo as a sacrifice to his deity for allowing him to win the 2016 presidential elections.