24 April 2003

Ghana: National Mosque Complex Gobbles ¢800m So Far

Accra — The Islamic community in Accra was robbed of its historic mosque when in the heady days of the 1979 mutiny, the military junta decided to demolish it ostensibly flush out 'economic saboteurs' who they claimed were operating in the building. Before this unfortunate action, the mosque had formed part of the city's landscape from the early years of the 1900s. To pacify the aggrieved Muslim community a new site was given them to be held in trust by the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Usman Nuhu Sharubutu.

Work on the National Mosque Complex at Kawudi Junction on the 4.2-acre land started some three years ago, but stalled for a while because of a shortage of funds.

Yesterday executors of the project were all smiles when the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Mr. Mohammed Abu Alhamayi visited the site and his government's interest in supporting it.

He said he was not happy about the delay in the execution of the project and promised to sit with one of the committees on the project next week to discuss the way forward.

The ambassador said talking should give way to practicalities and this could pass as an indictment for the delay which has characterised the execution of the project so far.

He expressed delight at the presence of an array of Islamic personalities who joined him to inspect the project.

The National Chief Imam, Alhaji Usman Nuhu Sharubutu, expressed gratitude to the envoy for the visit.

He condemned the activities of some unscrupulous individual Muslims and organizations who use his name to solicit funds ostensibly for the construction of the National Mosque Complex. The chief imam added that only the Alhaji Bashiru Futa Committee has been mandated by his office to solicit such funds and to pay them into a special account with the Ghana Commercial Bank.

The National Mosque Complex was originally to cost $2m when it was started about three years ago.

In a speech to appraise the visiting envoy about the status of the project, the head of the technical committee, Alhaji Bashiru Futa, said at the time of the initial works they had a little over eighty million cedis at hand and have been able to undertake the first phase of the project which is the substructure stage. The next stage would involve the superstructure.

At the end of it all the complex is expected to contain a conference hall, library, a research centre and other facilities for Muslims to keep abreast with contemporary scientific and social trends, Alhaji Futa said.

The construction, he disclosed, has cost eight hundred million cedis so far excluding the cost of excavation.

The mosque construction committee expressed gratitude to Alhaji Adamu of Global Haulage fame for his provision of reinforcement materials and his promise to further supply the project with concrete. Also mentioned was Alhaji Baba Kamara who assisted in the excavation work on the project.

The delay in the completion of the project has been a subject of gossip among many members of the Islamic faith who question why Muslims in the country are unable to com up with enough resources on their own to execute such projects.

With the re-stated commitment by the Saudi envoy however it is hoped that his government would make good its promise of assisting in the completion of the project. For now the main central mosque in the city of Accra remains the Abossey Okai Mosque whose patronage is not as encouraging as it was for the demolished one. When the Kawokudi National Complex is completed it would certainly enhance the image of Islam in Ghana.

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