Managers of the National Cathedral say the furore over the building of the edifice stems from a misunderstanding of the significance of the project.
Chief Executive Officer of the National Cathedral Project, Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah is particularly saddened that Ghanaians are failing to appreciate what the monument will mean for Ghana’s religious architecture and heritage.
“Why is there a whole national angst about the National Cathedral? I think it’s really a misunderstanding of the nature of the Cathedral. People think we have almost 30,000 churches, so why have a Cathedral? That is where the problem lies”, said Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah.
He argued that the project cannot be abandoned, as many have suggested, by virtue of economic challenges.
Speaking on Talking Point on GTV on Sunday, Dr. Opoku-Mensah pointed out that aside from enhancing Ghana’s spiritual growth and social cohesion, the National Cathedral will also make the country a spiritual tourism destination.
“This is going to be sacred space of the nation. This is one of the things the country has lacked, that is why the President said it is the missing link in the nation’s architecture. For instance, the Bible museum we are developing has a systematic focus.”
“We really want Ghana to be the centre where one can explore. Literally, what we are trying to do is to drive the traffic and be able to develop the infrastructure and have the kind of artefacts that tell the Christian story. It’s just like bringing the holy land to Accra,” he said.
On the same programme, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta asked opposers of the National Cathedral project to be measured in their criticisms.
He said government is mindful of taxpayers’ money being used to support the building of the National Cathedral and is strategizing to ensure that monies pumped into the construction are recouped within the shortest possible time after construction.
For him, the current economic challenges should not deter the state from fulfilling its responsibility to build a monument that has huge investment potential.
“At any point in time when these buildings were built in Europe, was it ever the right time? How do we fund it will become the question. Is the executive mindful of the current situation? We shouldn’t snuff out our religiousness or spirituality because we are poor. The Lord will understand if we put our widow’s mite in there.”
The Finance Minister believes the raging debate on financial prudence and relevance of the National Cathedral is misguided.
“That question being asked is that are we spending money from state coffers? Is that too much to do because we are politicizing it. Do we really want to stop it? That is going to be my question.”
Ken Ofori- Atta, rather, wants critics not to lose sight of the real returns the National Cathedral project could generate to shore up government’s revenue target.
“As a Minister of Finance, we are looking at resources and how much we put in there at every point in time that is sensible and so as we speak, we have spent less than one-thousandth of our expenditure on that.”
“I am very confident of raising revenue to be able to fund this and then more importantly if I want to look into the economics of it, I truly see an overwhelming capacity that this will pay off. Typically, I am looking at an internal rate of return, so we should put this in mind”, the Minister added.