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National Cathedral: Otabil Didn’t Resign– Secretariat Refutes NDC Claims

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pastor mensa otabil

Pastor Mensa Otabil

The National Cathedral Secretariat has denied claims by members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that, Dr Mensa Otabil, General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church has resigned as member of the board of Trustees.

According to the secretariat, the National Cathedral of Ghana was registered as a company limited by guarantee, to be used as the instrument for the construction and management of the National Cathedral.

The company was legally registered on July 18, 2019 as the Board of Trustees had to be registered as the Directors of the company.

“A member of the Trustees, Dr Mensa Otabil, the General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church, had indicated that he couldn’t give the needed attention to the project so didn’t register.

“So, Dr Mensa Otabil did not resign from the Board as being alleged, but excused himself at the point of registration of the Directors in July 2019. For the avoidance of all doubts, Dr Otabil has not been a member of the Board or Trustees since July 2019. Dr Mensa Otabil, nonetheless, remains actively interested in the project and continues to share his views on strategy with the Secretariat,” a statement issued by the Secretariat on Friday June 17 and signed by the Executive Director of the National Cathedral of Ghana, Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah said.

It said the continuous use of Otabil’s name and pictures on the websites and publications was an administrative lapse by the Secretariat.
This follows claim by the Member Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzato Ablakwa who said Dr Mensa Otabil was no more with the Board.

According to Ablakwa, “There is quite an uneasy calm among the Board of Trustees. And I can confirm to you that one prominent priest has walked away from the Board; the revered Dr Mensa Otabil is no longer with them.

“The whole year, he has not attended any of their meetings. It is not clear what his intention was, but he has given indication that all is not well.”

Furtherance to that, Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah outlined strategy the Secretariat is using to reduce the cost of constructing the ongoing National Cathedral project.

According to him, Secretariat is working with a very minimum staff, and rather using volunteers, including national service personnel, and seconded personnel from the churches — whose remuneration are covered by the sponsoring church to keep cost down.

It said “All the disbursements from the state to the National Cathedral, therefore, have been based on the framework for the state’s participation in the National Cathedral project. And the procurement of services using these funds have all been within legal procurement practices.

“Similarly, the establishment of positions at the Presidency for the National Cathedral of Ghana is a practical response to the state’s commitment to ‘set up and equip the Secretariat’ of the National Cathedral.

“These positions are used to coordinate and mobilize for the project. These positions notwithstanding, the National Cathedral Secretariat works to keep costs down, by operating with a very thin staff, and using volunteers, including national service personnel, and seconded personnel from the churches — whose remuneration are covered by the sponsoring church.”

This comes after concerns have been raised against the cost of the project.

For instance, North Tongu Member of Parliament said that on October 29, 2020, the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta on the request of the Chief of Staff Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, authorized the release of GHS142.7million for national cathedral “planned activities”.

He said an amount of ¢200million of unconstitutional releases have been done so far.

In a tweet on Wednesday June 8, he said “Latest exposé on Akufo-Addo’s Cathedral. On October 29, 2020; Ken Ofori-Atta on the request of Prez Akufo-Addo’s Chief of Staff, authorized the release of a gargantuan GHS142.7million for national cathedral “planned activities” GHS200million of unconstitutional releases so far.”

Mr Ablakwa earlier questioned the government for releasing an amount of ¢25million for the National Cathedral project in the midst of economic challenges.

In his view, the funds could have been used to pay trainees under the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) programme, school feeding caterers and also service personnel.

His comments come after the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Finance authorized the release of GH¢25million for the construction of the National Cathedral.

A letter dated March 31 and written to the Controller and Accountant General Department (CAGD) by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta said “Authority is hereby granted to release the sum of GHC25million as additional seed money to the National Cathedral Secretariat for the construction of the National Cathedral for part payment of the outstanding claim from RIBADE.”

But in a tweet reacting to this, Mr Ablakwa said “Considering the current debilitating economic crisis, why is the Akufo-Addo govt releasing a colossal GHS25million for the National Cathedral project? Shockingly, this is the same govt claiming lack of funds to pay NABCo trainees, School feeding caterers, service personnel, the 3-year no-textbooks-syndrome, etc.

“This gross lack of priority cannot be pleasing to the compassionate God we all serve. It is also important to stress that this manifestly insensitive conduct is without parliamentary approval — we shall be demanding answers in Parliament.”

On January 13, 2017 the President inaugurated a 13-member Board of Trustees made up of leading clergy in the country. This was clergy appointed not as institutional representatives of church denominations, but rather as individuals with influence and visibility in the various church denominations.

The National Cathedral was registered as a company limited by guarantee, to be used as the instrument for the construction and management of the National Cathedral. The company was legally registered on July 18, 2019.

By Vincent Kubi