His Grace Most Rev. Samuel Abidoye
His Grace Most Rev. Samuel Abidoye
By His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Samuel Abidoye
That world financial guru of our time called Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala recently spoke about “mega-churches” as the top untaxed sector of Africa’s economy. Churches are non-profit organisations and operate beyond the reach of government taxation. However, let us assume that Okonjo-Iweala’s statement was just a testing of water, and that the Government will not start taxing churches, at least, not yet.
God has given the church instruction about how to use money that she realises. In the Bible, how the money realised should be used: Isaiah 58: 7 says, “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” God wants us to take care of poor people as much as possible.
In Deuteronomy 24:20, the Bible says, “When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.” The Church has been taking care of the poor and less privileged in the society - which should have been government’s duty in the first place - therefore, it would be double punishment to ask the church to start paying tax.
This country is so rich that the government could easily put the unemployed, orphaned and other disadvantaged in the society on monthly salary. To ask churches to pay tax is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. What happens to all the money being garnered every month by the various governments across the country? How have politicians managed our economy and finances? Is Okonjo-Iweala trying to raise more money for her compatriots in government so that they could have more money to embezzle or spend in reckless abandon?
One cannot but mention the activities of Boko Haram again. As far as peace and security for those affected by the recent activities of the sect are concerned, the touted peace agreement between the sect and Nigerian government has collapsed like a pack of cards. The activities of the group are getting everybody worried. Effectively, there are two governments in the country, with the Boko Haram having created a conclave for themselves within the Yobe/Borno axis, according to newspapers reports. While the insurgents are causing havoc, our rulers are happily strutting around.
The militants are killing, maiming and kidnapping, while the government is busy preparing for the next elections. They put fire on their houses and sleep in bliss. They are not ashamed that Boko Haram is pursuing our soldiers into Cameroun and other neighbouring countries. My advice is that the politicians should concentrate on salvaging this country and making her safe for all and sundry, instead of worrying about an election that is coming up next year. All Nigerians are worried about the fate of our country with the upscale activities of the Boko Haram sect. If not for God, perhaps, the whole nation would have been overridden by the sect.
We need to act fast and purchase high-standard weapons for our military for them to be more successful in fighting dissidents more successfully. Otherwise, if Boko Haram succeeds in capturing more parts of this country, the next elections will be less than useless. May God help us in Jesus name. Amen.
Let me end this message by mentioning a matter relating to Christian Association of Nigeria’s President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor whose private jet was allegedly used to carry money to South Africa to purchase weapons for our country. Unlike others who have commented on the matter, I believe that Pastor Oritsejafor is a complete gentle man of God. I believe that it is because members of his church love their Pastor so much and that it was their attempt to show their love for him that made them give a Jet to him.
Personally, I see nothing bad in a Pastor owning a Jet if his church has many branches in many countries like my church. However, if the church does not have enough branches to warrant such desire, it is not wise to go for something like a private Jet. Actually, to buy a jet is not the main issue, maintaining it is the challenge. Maintenance cost may drive the owners into debt if the Pastor does not have Senators and other politicians or money bags as members. To make ends meet, the owner may have to rent it out, which, I believe, was what happened in the case of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.
A church that is willing to buy a private Jet for her Pastor must be prepared to maintain it for him. Instead of putting such a burden on the Pastor, the congregation would do better to donate the money to charity or use it to embark on a project. What is given as a gift may become a curse if the poor man is constrained from selling the aircraft out of decency. Mind you, I am only expressing a personal opinion as I do not know how large Oritsejafor’s church is. I am not sure too, how much his salary or other incomes are, or if indeed, he could own one without hiring it out.
* His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Samuel Abidoye is the Chairman and Spiritual Father of the Cherubim & Seraphim Movement Church Worldwide.