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Opinions of Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah

The National Cathedral, potrog and King Solomon

The debate about a National Cathedral for Ghana is still with us.

When I told my big boy I was going to write this article he stated, ‘Daddy, Ghanaians will call you an Antichrist’.

He has come to know the terrain well.

Fortunately, POTROG himself set the tone and parameters for this debate when he presided over the fundraising dinner for the National Cathedral last Friday.

‘President Nana Akufo-Addo has said he promised God a National Cathedral before he became president, and will redeem that pledge’, was the lead in the modernghana.com story of 29 December 2018, culled from classfmonline.com.

We have every legitimate cause as speech analysts and PR practitioners involved in nation building to dissect it.

The University of Cape Coast (UCC), which is responsible for the administration of the JEA Mills Presidential Library is not able to pay the water and electricity bills of the facility.

To make matters worse, the contractor who worked on the project was reported to have locked up the place and taken the keys away, thus denying the university access to the two-storey building situated opposite the Cape Coast Castle.

Formal education in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) started in Cape Coast and if the University of Cape Coast, founded with this nation-state’s resources cannot manage such a facility as part of its library resources, then what conversations are we going to have in a Cathedral?

The modernghana.com report again…..

‘Launching the National Cathedral Fundraising Campaign on Friday, 28 December 2018 at the forecourt of the State House, Accra, President Akufo-Addo said just as pertained to Solomon’s dedication of the first temple to God as taught by the Bible, he knows that God cannot be contained in a physical edifice.’

If you know that God cannot be contained in a physical edifice, then why build it?

With respect to National conversations alluded to by POTROG in the same address, can any and all conversations be entertained in the National Cathedral?

What are our constantly poorly funded so-called universities for?

What are our policy think tanks for?

What is our bloated parliament for?

Surely, POTROG’s remark on national conversations needs to be better formulated.

Numerous other questions arise from POTROG’s speech.

A new Ghanaian civilisation? Really?

Are we in one now? When did the old one end?

Surely not when he was Attorney-General and or was it when he was Foreign Minister?

Or did it end when he was voted in as POTROG?

Indeed the end of a civilisation where only one per cent of institutional sewage is treated and which also has precarious health, education and legal system is long overdue.

POTROG then speaks of “A personal priority”.

To do what? Build a cathedral or a civilisation or both?

‘Rather, and again like Solomon on that occasion, the building of the National Cathedral is to serve as a gesture of thanksgiving to God for his blessings, favour, grace and mercies on our nation, and to give me an opportunity to redeem a pledge I made to Him before I became President,’ he said.

Since the days of King Solomon (KS), God’s ‘blessings, favour, grace and mercies on our nation’ has led us to new knowledge and thankfully a sizeable number of Ghanaians with the expertise have been trained to implement these important advances.

Let us examine a few of these.

First, unlike in KS’s time, an important example of new knowledge is the crucial “golden hour” in trauma/accident care.

This knowledge makes an emergency health system – namely equipped ambulances and a trauma centre among others indispensable.

Where is ours?

What about antenatal and obstetric care for women?

Who said drone? I shall not even dignify that with a response.

Second, knowledge about surgery and minimally invasive surgery.

Do we have the optimum number of adequately equipped, staffed and maintained facilities to prevent tragic suffering among our people?

Few things are more harrowing than watching someone who needs surgery not get it done as they deteriorate to a point of no return – even death.

In our part of the world, it is estimated that less than 15 per cent of those who require surgery are able to access the service.

Third, modern and comprehensive knowledge about sanitation and its implication on the health and economic prowess of a nation.

POTROG promised to ‘make Accra the cleanest city in Africa’ within four years.

We are waiting to exhale!

In short, to compare yourself to KS at this time in Ghana, especially with respect to building a Cathedral is to be ill informed while at the same time making your imagination run wild….or simply disingenuous.

How can you raise funds for a project when you DO NOT know and REFUSE to divulge the cost of the project?

Is this legal?

Is this ethical; does it set the right example?

Does this action show respect for the people who elected you to lead them?

Is it appropriate, is it statesman-like to invoke the name of God in such a project when around you is poverty, ignorance and disease?

Sometimes after eating your meal of roasted plantain and groundnuts while you watch the chaotic Accra traffic, smell the putrefaction from the choked gutters and the acrid smoke of burning refuse, while swatting away at the ever-present huge flies, you just wonder whether you are in the land of make-believe.

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