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National Cathedral Secretariat Challenges Duncan-Willams, Anaba On Reasons For Resignation

The two clergymen in January called for a suspension of the project to allow for an independent financial audit of all public funds spent on the project.

The National Cathedral Secretariat is opposing reasons cited by popular preachers, Nicholas Duncan-Williams and Eastwood Anaba, for their resignation from the Board of Trustees overseeing the construction of the National Cathedral in Ghana.

The two clergymen in January called for a suspension of the project to allow for an independent financial audit of all public funds spent on the project.

In their joint resignation letter to President Akufo-Addo however, they cited a lack of information about the findings of the audit, and therefore their decision to resign.

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“Despite our prayers, best hopes and wishes, unfortunately, a needed audit to help restore public confidence and trust in this consequential project has not been enacted to the best of our knowledge,” they said in their letter.

They are not the first to resign from the Board of Trustees. Citing similar concerns sometime in  August 2022, Bishop Dag-Heward Mills of the Lighthouse Chapel International also resigned after he said his very many concerns on funding, location, and the role of the trustees for the project were left unaddressed.

But in response to Anaba and Duncan-Williams, the Executive Director of the Cathedral project, Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah says the reasons cited for their resignation are untrue.

Opoku-Mensah said an ongoing audit was being carried out by Deloitte, saying also that information from meetings following the call for an audit was made available to the men of God, contrary to the justifications for their resignation.

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“The engagement letter for Deloitte to officially begin the audit was drafted and signed by Deloitte on March 27, 2023, and 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,” Opoku-Mensah said in a statement, adding that “although Duncan Williams and Eastwood Anaba were not present at June 2023 and September 2023 meetings, they 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,” he said.

A project marred with many controversies

The Cathedral is a pet project of President Nana Akufo-Addo, who after his first electoral win, had pledged its construction as a personal promise to God.

Supporters of his cause have argued that the country stands to benefit from an iconic infrastructure that will not only provide a sacred place for the nation but also an engine for financial sustainability.

But the project has come to be marred with many controversies – from funding, location, design, conflict of interest, and a matter of misplaced priorities.

At the start of the project, the government had said the project was not stated-funded – that the state only provided seed money and the land for its construction. Despite that, the government has so far spent about $58 million from state coffers on the project.

Key critics of the project like the Member of Parliament for North-Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, have consistently said that it is reckless of the government to continue the project, hence calling for a wider audit into the construction of the project.

“The National Cathedral project of Ghana is essentially the most expensive in the history of Ghana. Already as we speak, this project has ballooned from 100 million to $400 million and it’s still a moving target, it is still rising,” Ablakwa said in Parliament on August 4, when together with five other minority MPs, they filed a motion to probe the cathedral project which has stalled since June 2022.

He also previously accused Rev Kusi Boateng, an Executive Council member of the Cathedral Board of transferring GHS 2.6 million from the National Cathedral Secretariat to JNS Talent Centre Limited, a company owned by Kusi Boateng using an alias Kwabena Adu Gyamfi. The allegations which culminated in a civil action against Ablakwa were later dismissed by a court in July.

Many others like movie star Yvonne Nelson, the Trades Union Congress, and until recently Reggae Dancehall artist Samini have said the project is unnecessary, specifically calling it a misplaced priority, especially since Ghana is battling an economic crisis.

 

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