Ghanaians seem strangely unconcerned or disinterested, as one of the biggest abuses of office in Ghana’s history is unfolding in the form of what the late Professor Kofi Awoonor prophesised in a poem in 2012 as the “cathedral of doom”. The Muslim community, which stands to lose more, does not seem to notice the religious coup d’etat taking place by stealth.
Chatting with a friend recently on this subject, he asked me if I was not aware that just like many things in Ghana these days, political partisanship has hit the Muslim community. We both laughed at that but knew deep down within us that it could be possible.
Alhaji Dr. Mahmoudu Bawumia, more or less the Islamic community’s representative at the topmost level of government, has either fallen victim to the neo-culture of silence, or considers himself an NPP Muslim, or simply cannot appreciate the insidious threat his faith is facing. Ironically, he has a very loud voice when it comes to vilifying John Dramani Mahama at every turn or spouting dodgy “econospeak”, having become something of a gold medalist in both!
A few brave punches have been thrown by a couple of Muslim organizations, which have been met with total contempt and humiliation from Dr. Bawumia and his boss Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Last week, these columns carried the statement issued by the Federation of Muslim Councils (FMC) some three years ago. For this outing, I am providing the full text of the COMOG (Coalition of Muslim Organizations of Ghana) statement which was issued around the same time. Just like the FMC statement, this COMOG statement is measured in tone and nationalistic in intent. Please see below:
“The Coalition of Muslim Organisations Ghana (COMOG) would like to express serious concern about the increasing involvement of the Government of the Republic of Ghana in religious matters and its implication for national unity and cohesion. For more than
a decade now, COMOG have continually insisted on the need for government to relinquish its stake in the organisation of Hajj and allow Muslims to handle the pilgrimage as a purely private spiritual exercise. While our efforts continue to achieve this goal, we were startled by the government’s meddling in yet another religious
endeavour: the construction of a cathedral.
COMOG, like all law-abiding Ghanaians, was pleased with the efforts of a private citizen to seek an interpretation in the Supreme Court of Ghana on the legality of Government’s involvement in Hajj organisation and the building of the cathedral.
Unfortunately, before the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to hear the case,the government has gone ahead with plans on the construction of the cathedral at a cost that is unconscionable and represents an utter misplacement of our priorities as
a nation. Given this background, COMOG would like to make the following submissions.
1. COMOG has no objection to the building of a cathedral. Christians in Ghana are capable of building a cathedral without government’s involvement or sponsorship. Just as the Government of Ghana has not been involved in the construction of religious edifices for Muslims, Traditionalists, Hindus etc., it should not be involved in the efforts by Christians to build themselves a cathedral.
2. The level of involvement of the government of Ghana over the past years in the organisation of Hajj and in the intended construction of the cathedral constitutes state sponsorship and promotion of Islam and Christianity respectively. In a secular nation with multiple faiths, this promotion of Islam and Christianity constitutes an affront to the letter and spirit of the Constitution of Ghana which bars the state from any promotion or sponsorship of religious activities.
3. The decision of the government to destroy state buildings including homes housing judges of the Appeals Court, the Scholarship Secretariat, the Passport Office and the Judicial Training Institute, some of which were built only five years ago, to make way for the construction of a private religious edifice constitutes a wanton and senseless destruction of state property. We join many well-meaning Ghanaians including Members of Parliament, members of the Legal fraternity and some of the Judges to be affected by this destruction, in calling for the relocation of the cathedral to another part of Ghana where it can be constructed at little cost to the state.
4. We implore the Chief Justice to empanel judges of the Supreme Court to hear the case brought to it against the government’s involvement in the Hajj and the construction of the cathedral.
5. At the same time, we call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo and the promoters of the building of the cathedral to halt the planned demolition exercise and any other activities that will cause permanent damage to or loss of state property until the suit at the Supreme Court is heard. The government should also return the mandate for the future organisation of Hajj into the hands of Ghanaian Muslims.
6. The government should allow for the auditing of the accounts of the current and past Hajj Boards which it set up and sponsored. Individuals found culpable in the misappropriation of monies paid by Ghanaian Muslims to Hajj Boards over the years must be made to face justice. We find it unjustifiable that rather than demanding justice for Muslims defrauded by individuals acting as agents of Hajj boards over the years, the government has chosen to cover up their activities by claiming to pay for monies lost over the years.
7. The government must provide evidence of the sponsorship it has given to the Hajj Board and Muslims to perform Hajj during the past two years as well as indicate the source of such funds. We find it wrong and unjustifiable that the Government of Ghana should be involved in using resources, regardless of their sources, to sponsor Muslims for a pilgrimage that is reserved solely to Muslims who are financially capable of undertaking it. Such funds could have been used for pressing developmental projects for the benefit of Ghanaians of all faiths.”
Mr. Akufo-Addo may be gloating over what he would no doubt be regarding as the highest point of his tenure – imposition of his faith on a captive nation – but I shudder at what may become the focus for an undesirable radical backlash – remember Ken Ofori Atta’s pledge to the Israeli Knesset and the stone from Israel in the foundation? Not a wish on my part, not a curse, perhaps a warning but certainly, common fear!