NEWS COMMENTARY DISCUSSES THE CALL FOR CONTRIBUTION FROM GHANAIANS TOWARDS CONSTRUCTION OF NATIONAL CATHEDRAL
By Ruth Abla Adjorlolo, a journalist.
Ever since the official announcement of the construction of a national cathedral and the subsequent groundbreaking ceremony, the controversy that has followed clearly shows that it deserves a second thought. Yes, a second thought because it didn’t only start on a controversial note but has consistently stir up debates in the media till date. From the issue of whose initiative it was, to the ruling on its legality by the Supreme Court to citizens being asked to contribute an amount of one hundred Ghana Cedis monthly towards its construction, one can conclude that the proposals have not settled well with many Ghanaians. The latter has brought about a new twist to the issue that leaves much more to be desired. If it is still not clear whose initiative or proposal it is to construct a national cathedral for the country, why should the people be asked to carry another unnecessary burden of footing the bill for the construction. It is rather obvious that Ghanaians never called for the construction of a national cathedral in the first place looking at reactions from the people. However, it would have been prudent for the authorities steering the affairs of this much talked about national cathedral and all those who mooted the idea to at least be aware of the costs and the resources needed to finish it before embarking on throwing the suggestion to the public.
The Bible makes it clear that he that wants to embark on a project, needs to assess the costs before starting it in order not to be disgraced when they fail to finish it along the way. Some of us are not bothered at all about the benefit or otherwise of the said national cathedral but are certainly worried about the latest decision by the Finance Minister, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta to ask one million Ghanaians to contribute an amount of one hundred Ghana Cedis monthly for the project. I am not only surprised but also agitated at this news, considering the hardship in the country at the moment and the challenges Ghanaians are facing on daily basis just to make ends meet and keep body and soul together. Pensioners are still struggling to keep up with some of them becoming more or less destitute with no place to lay their heads, after contributing their quota to the baking of the national cake, the crumbs of which never fall to them. In the midst of all these difficulties, we have seen an increase in the salary of Article 71 holders whilst others struggle with only four percent salary upgrade. A cathedral comes with some benefits in the area of tourism, among others that no one can denial and no one disputes that. In effect, some countries such as France and Italy, are raking in revenue from the cathedrals that they have. Building a senior citizens’ village to house and cater for pensioners, wouldn’t cost anything close to what the national cathedral would take from the national coffers and contributors. There are many other flagship projects that could be more beneficial to Ghanaians.
Pensioners are one social group that has been marginalised and left to live in abject rejection and poverty after their dedicated service to what has become a thankless nation. They are not asking for anything extraordinary apart from the little to finish off their lives in a dignified manner. What if the finance Minister set up a special fund for Ghanaians to contribute to the welfare of pensioners? What if a similar fund is created for Persons with Disability or even Kayayei to better their lives? For a nation like Ghana, saddled with economic issues and an economy reeling under the pressure of Covid-19 pandemic, the least to ask from Ghanaians should be a contribution towards a cathedral, which isn’t a priority at the moment.
If we cannot put our priorities right at this crucial time of our lives as a nation, then we have no one to blame for our economic state. Let the clergy build their cathedrals and let Ghanaians contribute to social projects to make life worth living for the marginalized and underprivileged.