The Executive Director of the National Cathedral of Ghana, Dr Paul Opoku-Mensah has expressed worry over the politicization of the National Cathedral project.
He noted that critics of the project vilify the secretariat even before they verify the information they access on the project.
He described this as a ‘reckless and populist’ action of the critics.
“With documentation that was sent to Parliament, people choose what they want and do politics with it,” he said in an interaction with members of Political Parties Outside Parliament, on Wednesday, November 1.
Dr Opoku-Mensah further urged the critics to get the side of the secretariat before making a public pronouncement on information they have on the project.
Recently, two members of the Board of Trustees of the National Cathedral Project – Archbishop Nicolas Duncan-Williams and Rev Eastwood Anaba – resigned due to the failure of the government to appoint an independent accounting firm to audit all public funds contributed to the National Cathedral.
“The current economic climate in Ghana presents obstacles to the timely construction and completion of the National Cathedral… We, therefore, resolve That in the spirit and cause of transparency and accountability to the Ghanaian people, the current Board of Trustees of the National Cathedral shall appoint an independent, nationally recognized accounting firm to audit all public funds contributed to and spent by the National Cathedral,” the two clergymen said in a memo.
But Dr Opoku-Mensah said responded to this in an earlier statement that “The attention of the Secretariat of the National Cathedral project has been drawn to a letter addressed to the President — sighted in the media before Board members received copies of the resignation of two of the members of the Board, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan Williams and Rev Eastwood Anaba.
“The reason given in the letter for their resignation is said to be the lack of any information, whatsoever, following their January 23, 2023 resolution calling for an audit of the National Cathedral project, and a complete cessation of work on the project.
“First, following the presentation of their resolution to the January 23, 2023 meeting of the Board,- which the Board rejected but which still found its way to the media, – both Archbishop Duncan Williams and Rev Eastwood Anaba fully participated (by zoom) in an emergency meeting the next day, 24th January 2023, to develop a Press release on the issue. The Press release included information on the audit, which was to be conducted by the international audit firm Deloitte (see appendix 1)
“Following this, the engagement letter for Deloitte to officially begin the audit was drafted and signed by Deloitte on March 27, 2023 and the set up on their system on May 17, 2023. The expectation was that the first part of the audit was to be completed in July 2023. The audit process, so far, can be confirmed with the auditors, Deloitte.
“The Board was constantly updated on the process through the Chairman and the Steering Committee, as well as the Executive Director’s reports to the meetings of the Board. For instance, the Executive Director’s report to the June 5, 2023 meeting included the following update on the audit: ‘III(3) Financial Audit: … the auditors, Deloitte, are currently in the middle of the audit and are receiving the cooperation of the Secretariat.’
“Similarly, at the September 27, 2023 meeting, the Executive Director updated the Board on the audit, and included the following in his written report to the Board: ‘Delayed Audit Report: The audit report by Deloitte is needed to begin the fundraising campaign.. Following a number of delays due to documentation, it is now hoped that the audit will be completed soon to enable fundraising to restart in earnest.’
6) Although Archbishop Duncan Williams and Rev Eastwood Anaba were not present at both the June 2023 and September 2023 meetings, they and all the other Board members who were not physically present at the meeting were sent copies of all the documents for the Board meeting, including the Executive Director’s report. The claim that they have received no information, whatsoever, on the audit process is therefore false.
“It needs to be stressed that the January 23, 2023 resolution of Archbishop Duncan Williams and Rev Eastwood Anaba was rejected by the Board on two grounds. First, their call for a complete cessation of all activity on the project until an audit was done, was redundant, as the meeting already had the audit on the agenda.
“Second, and perhaps more critical, their resolution was rejected because of its linkage to the 2024 elections. As Archbishop Duncan Williams explained it, the National Cathedral has become a “trusted weapon” in the hands of the opposition, which they intend to use as part of their 2024 election strategy. Explaining that he had seen “part of the game plan”, he argued that unless the Board agrees to cease all work on the project until after the 2024 elections, the opposition will come after each of them, create divisions in the Board, and be relentless in their opposition to the project. This was rejected because of the undue politicization of the project this complete cessation would entail.
“As the Secretariat of the National Cathedral Project, we are not unaware of the numerous attempts to politicise and cause disaffection for the project through fabrications and outright lies. But, as we have always insisted, the National Cathedral project has been implemented with integrity. And we are working closely with the auditors to ensure that they complete their work, which will be shared with the general public.”