Opoku-Mensah: Ablakwa’s latest exposé on National Cathedral is “rubbish”
The National Cathedral secretariat has described the latest “bombshell” about the national project by the MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa in the US as “rubbish”.
Ablakwa alleged in a Facebook post that the consultant for the National Cathedral, who has been paid US$6 million operates from a warehouse in the United States.
The allegation is part of what the MP describes as the first in a series of “discoveries” he has made in the US about the National Cathedral.
However, reacting to the development on the Asaase Breakfast Show on Thursday (4 May), the executive director of the National Cathedral of Ghana, Dr Paul Opoku-Mensah said the opposition lawmaker lacks fundamental knowledge on the project.
“The National Cathedral project, we have argued, has been implemented with a certain level of reverence, and we are open to parliamentary oversight of state resources in the project,” he said.
“But insisting that this oversight cannot be done on social media, it’s an affront to the democratic process that we have opted to follow as a country, so that is the import of the message, so all the bombshells are rubbish,” Opoku-Mensah said.
National Cathedral project
The proposed National Cathedral under construction in Accra is projected, once completed and fully operational, to raise in excess of US$95 million in revenue within its first five years of operation.
Conceived by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as a physical embodiment of unity, harmony and spirituality, the Ghana National Cathedral will be the nation’s ceremonial landmark, Ghana’s “mother church”, where all denominations will be welcomed to gather, worship and celebrate in spiritual accord.
Scope of vision
The project, now referred to as a complex comprising three projects – the National Cathedral of Ghana, the Biblical Gardens of Africa and the Bible Museum of Africa – will have ten streams from which revenue will be raised.
The revenue streams include admission to the cathedral, the museum and the biblical gardens.
The others are membership, a restaurant, a café, event catering, a gift shop, meeting space rental, special events, online merchandise and online education.
According to projections by the secretariat of the board of trustees, the National Cathedral will receive roughly 400,000 visitors annually from Africa, other parts of the world and from within Ghana.
It is estimated that 30% of the visitors (120,000 people in total) will be foreigners and 70% (280,000) will be people living and working in Ghana.
Out of this 70% in the projections, 40% (160,000 people) will be adults, 20% (80,000) will be children between the ages of ten and 17 and 10% (40,000 people) will be what the projections term groups.
The plans further project that adults from outside Ghana, contributing an entrance fee of US$15 per person, multiplied by the estimated 120,000 visitors annually, will generate roughly US$1.8 million.
On the domestic front, the secretariat projects that the 40% of visitors who are adults in Ghana (160,000 people) paying a fee of $8 per person will generate approximately US$1.28 million for the National Cathedral.
The 20% who children between the ages of ten and 17 (80,000 people), contributing a fee of $6 per head, will generate US $480,000 for the project each year and the 40,000 people referred to as groups (10% of the total number of visitors), at a fee of US $10 per person, will bring the cathedral US $400,000 annually.
Special museum exhibits are projected to raise US $2.4 million, bringing the annual projected revenue target through attendance alone to US $6.36 million.
Managers of the facility estimate that out of 400,000 museum visitors, 100,000 other paid admissions and 10,000 non-attendance buyers, they will be able to raise just under $1.1 million from the gift shop and from sales of food.
Revenue from the restaurant and café is estimated at US $1.77 million and there is a projected revenue of roughly $1.602 million from all other catering services, bringing the total annual revenue from the gift shop and all food services to $4.45 million annually.
Museum membership schemes are very popular globally and have been used to create a customer loyalty programme as well as serve as a good source of regular income for many museums across the world.
Officials of the National Cathedral plan to use the pre-opening time of three years to raise US $12 million by offering a limited number of “Founding Memberships”, “Presidential Founding Memberships” and signatories to the “Chairman’s Founding Membership Circle”.
Overall, the National Cathedral estimates that within a year of operation, it will generate roughly US $23.62 million and by the fifth year, its revenue should hit US$95.555 million.
Birthing the vision
On 6 March 2017, President Akufo-Addo outdoored his vision for a national cathedral to be sited close to State House in Accra.
At the ground-breaking ceremony, the president described the proposed cathedral as an interdenominational worship project which will also be a gesture of thanksgiving to God on the occasion of Ghana’s 60th anniversary for the blessings He has bestowed on the country.
The architectural and structural design for the National Cathedral was done by the British-Ghanaian starchitect David Adjaye, the founder and principal of Adjaye Associates.
The cathedral will house chapels, a baptistery and a 5,000-seater main auditorium which can be expanded to a 15,000-seater venue for national events and celebrations, among other facilities.
On 5 March 2020, to signify the start of construction work, President Akufo-Addo laid the foundation stone, which was sourced from the Israeli capital of Jerusalem, in the Holy Land, at the exact spot where the altar of the cathedral will be situated when the building is completed.