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Opinions of Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

On the Run: The disingenuous disputation of the Ghana Institute of Architects

In the wake of the auspicious selection of Ghanaian-born and globally renowned and British-knighted architect, Sir David Adjaye, for the designing of the proposed Ghana National Cathedral Project, the executive operatives of the Ghana Institute of Architects (GIA) released a media statement impugning the legitimacy of the Government’s decision to sole source the afore-referenced contract to the British-Ghanaian architect, citing the statutory existence of a procurement protocol to the contrary (See “Selection of David Adjaye to Design National Cathedral ‘Illegal’ Ghana Institute of Architects” Modernghana.com 12/2/18).

I personally find such complaint to be at once infantile and patently absurd, in view of the fact that it clearly appears to me that it was the globally proven and acclaimed architectural genius of Sir Adjaye that prompted the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to solicit the well-sought services of Sir Adjaye, rather than the other way around. Simply put, so phenomenally has the globally renowned architect distinguished himself that the Government of Ghana readily deemed his services to be well above board or the sort of routine and vulgar procurement competition that the members and executive operatives of the GIA are referencing.

Indeed, the GIA disputants themselves specifically acknowledge the fact that “Sir David Adjaye has designed world-renowned projects like the Museum of African-American History and Culture in the [United States of America].” We must also quickly point out that Sir Adjaye is even better known in Europe than here in the United States. Nevertheless, the disputants insist that Sir Adjaye be subjected to the same procurement protocol in existence in the country as the rest of his peers among the membership of the GIA. There is a catch here, though, and it is the fact that Sir Adjaye has absolutely no peer – and I mean, absolutely no peer – among the membership of the Ghana Institute of Architects, absolutely none of whom have even half-distinguished themselves well enough to be casually compared to Sir Adjaye. One would have rather wished that the members of the GIA would organize a ceremony at which Sir Adjaye was duly honored for raising high the flag of Ghana among the global comity of nations.

It is also quite obvious that the primary purpose of the public protest by the GIA members is to cavalierly bring a Ghanaian-born Sir Adjaye to their level. But this will not wash, for, globally speaking, there are exceptions to every rule, statutory or otherwise, even in the most civilized and advanced of democracies. The fact of the matter is that Sir Adjaye was the one whose proven sterling services were sought out by the Government of Ghana and not vice-versa. And constitutionally speaking, the Office of Government Procurement is replete with experts who can readily and legitimately determine the critical matter of “value for money” under these circumstances. And, by the way, the fact that most of these GIA members were trained at publicly funded tertiary academies like the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the University of Ghana (UG), does not obligate the Government to hire any of these locally trained architects regardless of merit or professional competence.

As well, the fact that the Government of Ghana has said that it intends to provide “seed money” or the initial capital for the construction of the National Cathedral does not necessarily warrant the subjection of the globally distinguished British-Ghanaian architect to the sort of mundane procurement protocol envisaged by the leaders of the GIA. Needless to say, we all witnessed the far more flagrantly cavalier manner in which then-Vice-President John Dramani Mahama and some parliamentarians, largely from the then-ruling National Democratic Congress’ side of the aisle, accept some payola baubles and summarily decide to bring in a company with absolutely no globally established record of achievement in the field of urban-housing development called STX from South Korea to construct housing projects worth an estimated $ 10 Billion (USD). That project would be eventually scuttled largely because of the vehement protestation of parliamentary and political opposition groups.

As I vividly recall, other than lamely and diffidently calling for some minor aspects of the STX’s contractual award to be ceded Ghanaian architects belonging to the GIA, in the name of “local content,” I absolutely have no recollection of the leaders of the Ghana Institute of Architects calling on the Mills-Mahama regime to subject the STX deal to a competitive-bidding process. But, somehow, since Sir Adjaye is Ghanaian-born like most of the members of the Ghana Institute of Architects, he ought to, perforce, be subjected to the procurement laws of the land. Fat chance! The fact of the matter is that this Prophet will be respected by the government and people of his country and land of birth, whether the GIA’s operatives like it or not!

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net