A BIG THANK YOU from all Ghanaians to the Ghana Trade Union Congress (TUC) for finally speaking up against this madness of a national cathedral that our President, Nana Akufo-Addo is monomaniacally obsessed with. He is like Nero fiddling while Rome burns. Some of us have arrived late to the conclusion that some leaders, when they attain power and begin to enjoy some personal comforts, forget about the suffering of the masses. This is the only way one can explain why, in the midst of all our dire problems, our President could, as recently as a week or so ago, insist that building a national cathedral is his priority of priorities.
In case our President has forgotten which country he is the leader of, let me enumerate for him some of our urgent problems: Perennial flooding in Accra, the capital, extending recently to the motorway; tens of thousands of unemployed graduates; school children studying on bare floors, under trees and in roofless school buildings; choked open gutters and filth all over Accra and even in major cities; severe shortage of hospital beds and ambulances and a collapsing national health insurance scheme; lack of or under-resourced medical clinics and hospitals in various parts of the country, terrible roads such as the eastern corridor road which becomes a death trap in the rainy season; and on and on.
Why is assembling a team of engineers and resourcing them to solve Accra’s flooding and drainage problems once and for all not this President’s priority of priorities? Why is making sure that all school children in Ghana go to school in well-constructed buildings with adequate desks, chairs, books and supplies not President Akufo-Addo’s priority of priorities? Why is the provision of adequate hospital beds, ambulances and equipment to at least all of Ghana’s major hospitals not a priority of priorities? How about shoring up the national health insurance scheme? Or building a national trauma center with modern equipment so that accident and trauma victims do not have to be treated and die on the bare floor? Why is building a national railway system to cut down on our petrol consumption and free up resources to develop other areas of the economy not a priority of priorities? And why is coming up with a way to employ the tens and thousands of the unemployed youth, who will soon be added to by those graduating from the free SHS system not a priority of priorities? Why not the eastern corridor road?
What is the purpose of the national cathedral anyway? A place where President Akufo-Addo can go and give thanks to God for finally making him president? The millions of hungry, sick and tired Ghanaians do not need any monument to self-aggrandizement. If he wants a monument, let our President build a modern well-equipped national trauma center, such as would be the envy of Africa. Let him come up with good ideas to move the country forward. As Jerome Lawrence wrote in his book ‘Inherit the Wind:’ “An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man's knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turned to snakes or the parting of the waters.”
Christianity, as practiced in Ghana, is killing initiatives and destroying our national character and a national cathedral will not make any difference. Corruption, lying, thievery and cheating is at its highest in Ghana despite our proclaimed piety and the tens of thousands of churches and preachers spread all over the land. It is no wonder Archbishop Palmer-Buckle recently expressed his frustration that 90 percent or more of the corruption in Ghana is carried out by Christians. Those Pastors and “Men of God” who are pushing our President in this foolish quest for a national cathedral should go back and read the Book of Amos. If God would not listen to us in our present cathedrals and churches because of our continuing moral corruption and decay, who says he will listen to us in our national cathedral? Didn’t God speak through the prophet Amos to the people of Israel that he will not listen to them because of their sinfulness? “I despise your feasts and will not accept your burnt offerings; …take away from me the noise of your songs; … I will not accept the peace offering of your fat beasts. (Amos 5:20-24). What God wanted from the Israelites, rather than prayers and sacrifices (and I dare say a national cathedrals), is to let judgment run down as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.
To some of us, if 90 percent or more of the corruption and moral decadence in Ghana is carried out by Christians, then our Pastors and “Men of God” have miserably failed at their jobs and should be the last persons convincing us of the need for a national cathedral. What prayers have they been praying in their churches that God doesn’t listen to and will only hear when it is from the national cathedral? They should not extend the moral bankruptcy of the church to civil society and waste the country’s resources with this untimely and inane idea of a national cathedral. Ghanaian Pastos should rather be bringing the people back to the life that Christ preached rather than following the President on this wasteful and useless journey.
If President Nana Akufo-Addo, despite all entreaties, persists in the plans for the national cathedral, Ghanaians from all walks of life should massively demonstrate to halt the inanity. They should become active and engaged citizens, not spectators – as the President himself advocated in his inaugural address.
John K. Akpalu, Esq., New York
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