It is sad to recount that the Ghanaian society is gradually giving up on our ability to deal with social and economic problems confronting all of us as a people. Problems that did neither descend from the heavens nor from hell, problems we have collectively created in the past whose results we are reaping today. Somehow, we seem to have no physical and material solution to them and we have resorted to faith and spiritual responses to what are purely physical and material problems. Religious beliefs are personal and therefore the individuals engaged in them have their inalienable rights to travel along those paths bearing in mind that they must operate within the confines of the laws of the state.
It is not for nothing that the framers of the Fourth Republican Constitution of 1992, recognizes Ghana as a secular state, a concept whereby a state is supposed to be neutral in religious matters. The constitution, even as it purports to have a neutral nation in matters of religion, also grants and protects religious freedoms. Individuals or groups of individuals have the right to practice their religious faiths without let or hindrance but only subject to the laws of the land.
By this, even though it is worrisome to see more churches spring up by the day than industries and other economic activities which are supposed to create jobs for the growing population, those who decide to invest in religious activities have the right to do so within the confines of the laws of Ghana. Sadly, however, some religious bodies, particularly the one- man “Faith Based Organizations” believe that once they mention the name of Jesus, everybody must lie prostrate before them.
Most of them have nothing to sell but to brand the name of Jesus, and they have a huge market out there with thousands of people who see all their afflictions, social, economic and even political, as spiritual, and once they get any of these charlatans to assure them of solutions to their problems, the criminal in cassock is in business, the seeds would be planted on tiled floors while tithes would be paid even as the payee has not earned any money.
So powerful have they become of late that instead of exhibiting patience, tolerance and resorting to the legal processes of the land even where they feel offended, and as expected of them as Christians and men and women of God, they instead organize hoodlums who survive by providing errands and security for them, to inflict pain on others in a violent manner that are only comparable in the criminal world. The last time, a certain ‘Bishop’ Obinim organized some rascals and invaded a radio station to unleash mayhem on some staff as they were performing their duties. And when the laws began to look into the matter, we had Ghanaians abandoning their daily activities to follow this ruffian to the court houses to offer moral support, as we say in Ghana.
And just in the course of this week, another group of irritants and lawbreakers are reported to have attacked officials and staff of the Tema West Metropolitan Assembly (TWMA) who just went there to demand the building permits in respect to the construction of a certain Anointed Chapel International. The work of the officials of TWMA is supported by law as stated in Act 936 of 2016. The officers did not go there to rip any developer off.
Section 106 (1) of Act 936 of 2016 states ‘A person shall obtain a building permit from a District Planning Authority before undertaking the construction of a building or other structure or undertaking any other work.
(2) The permit shall contain the conditions that the District Planning Authority considers necessary.
(3) A District Planning Authority may give notice in writing in the form set out in Sixth Schedule, to an owner, occupier or developer of premises, if the owner, occupier, or developer
(a) is constructing a building or other structure;
(b) has constructed a building or other structure; or
(c) is working or executing work without a permit or in contravention of a bye-law made by the District Assembly.
(4) The notice shall require
(a) the owner, occupier, or developer to show sufficient cause why the building, structure or work should not be removed, altered or demolished on or before the day specified by the District Planning Authority; and
(b) a written response by the owner, occupier, developer or duly authorized agent to be served on the District Planning Authority.
(5) If the owner, occupier or developer fails to show sufficient cause why the building, structure or other work should not be removed, altered or demolished, the District Planning Authority shall by notice order the occupier or developer within one month to remove, alter or demolish the building, structure or other work at a personal cost.
(6) If the owner, occupier or developer fails to comply with the order of the District Planning Authority within the one month, the District Planning Authority may carry out the removal, alteration or demolition and shall be entitled to recover the expense incurred by the District Assembly from the owner, occupier or developer as a debt owed to the District Assembly.
I have painstakingly published the above to alert developers the dangers that await them in the unbridled and lawless manner we are putting up structures anyhow and anywhere in this country and creating problems for all of us. I appreciate my brother’s anger, Dr. Nana Ato Arthur, Head of the Local Government Service when he spoke to the media, men and women executing their legitimate businesses in the service of Ghana, to be attacked in such violent manner must not be tolerated in any civilized society anywhere in the world. Indeed, even in the animal kingdom, there seem to be more order and discipline than we have in Ghana today.
What are some of the contributory factors; our society is now under the spell of false prophets who see nothing good coming except to predict the death of prominent people every year. They make false promises of prosperity to their followers when those believers have done nothing in their lives to merit what they are been promised. The year is cruising to an end and very soon hundreds of thousands of gullible Ghanaians would flock to the churches and chapels of these charlatans to receive prosperity promises when their own mindsets and attitudes to work and life generally would not change for the better.
At the national level, have political leaders and top decision makers of our dear nation not also succumbed to these false prophets? Some politicians believe that it is these prophesies of these criminals selling Jesus’s name who will offer them political power and not what they can offer the people who vote them into office. We spend the tax payers’ monies on religious bodies to win their trusts instead of using those monies to solve some of the problems confronting the people.
Why should our taxes go to support the religious pilgrimage of some people meeting their religious obligations? And why should our taxes build Cathedrals for religious bodies many of whom are far richer than corporate business bodies that support our economy? If we “religionize” this nation instead of enforcing our laws and rules, the most powerful religious groups would take this nation hostage and the resistance by the rival religious groups will put this nation into chaos.
And don’t forget the hell of noise making in the name of worship.
Daavi, please offer me three tots to break my alcoholic fast
From Kwesi Biney