Latest Information trickling into Daily Guide about the controversial pilgrimage for 200 selected pastors by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration indicates that a whopping price tag of $2million, approximately GH¢4million, is the sponsorship package for the trip.
At the time the national coffers are in red, with government struggling to meet its financial commitments, the Mahama administration is doling out $2million to fund the jolly ride to Israel.
The ruling NDC government is expected to be responsible for coughing up this amount to sponsor the lucky pastors to the holy land, ostensibly to pray for the President.
When the story broke, speculations were rife that the Head Pastor of the Royal House Chapel International (Ahenfie) was allegedly part of the trip, particularly due to his close relations with the organiser of the trip, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, the Campaign Co-ordinator of the John Dramani Mahama 2012 Presidential Campaign and currently the Minister of Youth and Sports.
However, Rex Dankwa, the Chief Executive of media consultancy firm, RICS Consult and an elder in the Royal House Chapel, debunked this linkage.
In a telephone conversation with DAILY GUIDE on Tuesday, he stated categorically that Sam Korankye-Ankrah “knows nothing about the trip”.
According to him, if certain names could be penned down by the organiser to benefit from such juicy travel packages, it did not necessarily mean that the beneficiary knew something about it.
Also, controversial cleric Prophet Isaac Owusu Bempah was alleged to have been earmarked for the trip, but he vehemently denied any knowledge of such a trip.
He told Daily Guide Tuesday that he knew nothing about the trip.
Daily Guide sources disclosed that each pastor would be given $10,000, amounting to $2million, to cover their cost of air fare, hotel bills, feeding and per-diem.
There are speculations that plans for the trip were apparently hatched to seek divine protection for President Mahama whose doom had been predicted.
Also, the pastors would reportedly pray for the President whose presidential mandate is seriously being challenged by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the Supreme Court.
Daily Guide, is, however, unable to independently confirm the names of beneficiaries and the $2million budget for the trip because the co-ordinator for the trip, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, has refused to reveal much information.
When contacted on Monday, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah simply told DAILY GUIDE that discussions on the trip were still ongoing and hence he would not want to preempt anything for now.
The exposé has generated intense public angst since Monday when the story broke, particularly against the background of dire socio-economic hardships demanding urgent government injection of funds to alleviate them.
On February 15, 2013, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, who is currently the Minister of Youth and Sports, wrote on the letterhead of the State Protocol Office inviting Christian bodies to select nominees for this rare trip.
In the letter (Reference number SPO.C/09) signed by him and addressed to one of such Christian bodies, a copy of which is available to Daily Guide, he said, “The Government of the Republic of Ghana has secured sponsorship to take Two Hundred (200) Ghanaians from the Christian Community on a pilgrimage to Israel. Your Council has been allocated ten (10) slots from the list.”
The letter asked each group to nominate 10 members for the trip, with names and details expected to be submitted by Tuesday, February 19, 2013.
Checks by Daily Guide confirmed that indeed, the key Christian bodies had been officially served with their invitation letters; however, most of them had declined the offer, citing wrong timing.
Meanwhile, the Christian body appears to be divided on the proposed trip.
Daily Guide gathered that when the letters hit the tables of the various Christian groups, they convened a quick meeting to discuss whether or not to honour the government’s invitation.
At the end of the meeting, the pastors collectively agreed to reject the NDC government’s overtures.
The gathering, which was made up of Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, the National Catholic Secretariat, the Christian Council of Ghana, Chaired by Rev Prof. Emmanuel Asante and the National Association of Charismatic Churches (NACC)-headed by Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, rejected the proposal from the government, Apostle Yaw Yirenkyi told Daily Guide last Monday.
According to the Apostle, they “collectively agreed that the timing was not right”.
“To me, looking at the economic issues at stake, I don’t think that the timing is right, what is the idea?” Bishop Addai Mensah, the General Overseer of Gospel-Light International Church and a member of NACC, told Daily Guide in a telephone conversation on Monday.
Since assuming power, the NDC has been caught in a topsy-turvy relationship with the clergy.
The relations have been marked by caustic verbal attacks aimed at some section of the clergy, while others have also been accused of enjoying benevolent largesse from the government.
Last year, some pastors were sent to Jerusalem with a whopping $10,000 per diem. Some were even given fresh brand new Toyota Landcruisers and other luxurious cars for their personal comfort.
Source: Raphael Ofori-Adeniran/D-Guide
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