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Ofilispeaks: Wanna Rescue Our Economy? Tax Churches & Arrest Landlords!

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OfilispeaksNigeria’s economy is struggling, largely due to her over-dependence on the falling oil prices that has seen our Naira plummet to record lows against the Dollar. So low that even our neighbors in Benin Republic are running away from the Naira.

And the Government’s reaction to this economic quagmire? FOREX restrictions to defend the Naira.

By doing this, the Government hopes to force Nigerians away from importing basic necessities with FOREX and instead push them to manufacture in Nigeria with the Naira.

The Government also plans to stimulate the Economy by spending large amounts of money (mostly borrowed or via taxes like stamp duties) on infrastructural developments including Power, Roads and Railways which would lead to a reduction of production cost for Nigerians manufacturing in Nigeria.

These ideas are brilliant on paper, but to me they are not enough.

The Government also has to get Nigerians to spend more money, because Government spending alone cannot stimulate the economy. So to help the Government even though they did not ask for it, I decided to share 4 controversial ideas the Government can implement to get Nigerians to spend more money and stimulate our Economy.

WARNING: They are controversial.

Arrest Landlords
I have written about this several times and I will reiterate it again:

Imagine what we could do as a country if Nigerians could make monthly rent payments to Landlords?

Do you know how much money will be freed up in our Economy? Do you know how many people would be able to afford cars and homes? Do you know how the middle class will grow, since more people have more money to spend? Do you know how many more jobs will be generated from people having more money to invest in their business ideas? Do you know how much easier life would be for a family that has to find money for a month, versus an entire year?

Because we would basically have 11-months of free money that we would gain when Nigerians can make payments monthly. Simple concept … but let me illustrate it even better. Imagine how you will feel if you had 11 months rent in your pocket right now…

But this idea is nothing new. Lagos state via its Tenancy Law makes it illegal for a Landlord to collect more than 3 month’s advance rent. But you and I know that, that is not happening and will not happen, until Landlords start getting arrested.

So my idea here is simply this, arrest Landlords violating this rule in Lagos. Then make it the law across Nigeria because 2 year advance rent collection is stagnating our Economy. This is because money that could be used to stimulate the economy is being held hostage by a few landlords who in so doing, grind our economy to a halt. Arrest Landlords!

Release Pensions Earlier
“Billions”… I take that back more like “Trillions of Trillions” of Nigeria’s money are tied up in Pension funds doing absolutely nothing but making pension fund banks richer.

The average Nigerian will not see that money till they are 60, and with a life expectancy rate of about 52.11 years (according to the World Bank) most Nigerians would be dead before then. Even if they are alive, their money would have died from inflation!

Let me illustrate the last point. Imagine, if you were 50 years old in 2006. Back then your Naira was valued at N128 to the $. Now imagine you were to retire today in 2016, your money will now be worth N280 N290 N305 N300 to the $! It would have lost about 100% of its value. But this is where it gets even crazier: imagine that you started working when you were 30, which is in 1986, then the Naira would be valued at N2.00!

It does not take a brain surgeon with a dual Mathematics degree to figure out that your Pension money is totally useless in a country with double digit high inflation. It’s like putting money in jail with back to back life sentences!

And I know the Pension Banks invest the money, but their investments are so conservative that it rarely consistently beats the high Nigerian inflation rate 10% as at December 2015.

So my radical idea is simply this, allow the money do something. Let pensioners have staggered access to their money. They should be able to access their funds at anytime … but with a minimal cost. That cost could be taxes or other penalties for early withdrawal, just like the American 401K.
This accomplishes are two things:

Firstly it brings NEW money into the Nigerian market – trillions that could be used to start businesses or industries that would leverage on the Governments newly built infrastructures. Secondly the early withdrawal fees generates additional revenue for the Government while serving as a deterrent to minimize excess withdrawals. At the end of the day, it is a win-win situation.

But with the status quo, pension money is sitting down doing effectively nothing but losing value! It’s an absolute waste as long as Nigeria’s inflation remains so high. Release the pensions earlier.

Tax Churches
Yes, I said it o.

Don’t crucify me but Nigeria needs to Tax her churches to get more money in circulation … here’s why and how.

Churches like mosquitoes are in every corner of Nigeria, they are abundantly plentiful. And they are big big businesses! And thus should be treated as such, their accounts should be made transparent and public just like any other business out there. But more importantly they should be taxed.

If the Federal Government taxes churches and other religious bodies, the income the Government would generate would be so large that we would not even need to borrow money (up to 1.89 trillion) to fund our budget!

But that figure I stated above cannot be verified, because Church accounts are mostly hidden in Nigeria. Which brings me back to the first point, Churches should declare their accounts, for an organization that makes such large amounts of money, it seems financially illogical not to be able to see their books. Moreover, it aids corruption, large amounts of questionable donations made by crooks cannot be tracked. Why? You could literally create a church and channel stolen money into it and no one will ask any questions!

Alternatively, churches should be required to carry out a certain number of capital/infrastructural projects as a way to be exempted from taxes but with an emphasis on non-profit. Because the ongoing for-profit church university trends does not count and does not help! By doing so, we ensure that the money given to the churches spreads to the community and doesn’t reside in the pockets of a few.

But whatever we do, we cannot ignore the money from Churches.

Copy Kenya
After the 2013 Kenya versus Nigeria Twitter war, the last thing any Nigerian will want to hear is that we should copy Kenya. But we need to, and here’s why:

Kenya has MPESA, Nigeria has a hot-MESSA!

But what exactly is MPESA? Mpesa was created when UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), noticed that Kenyans were transferring mobile airtime as a proxy for money. So they teamed up with Vodafone (think MTN or Etisalat) to create M-PESA a mobile banking platform that allows Kenyans transfer money via SMS.

And the result has been nothing short of astonishing. With over 43% of Kenyans GDP in 2013 routed through M-PESA!

So how will M-PESA help Nigeria? Simply put, it will allow for a faster flow of money within our Economy. Small businesses that cannot afford the very expensive Inter-switch licences or scarce POS machines will be able to accept mobile payments via their phones thus stimulating the birth of more small businesses.

So where exactly is Nigeria’s M-PESA?

To be honest,  several companies in Nigeria have tried to replicate Kenya’s M-PESA, the closest we got to getting M-PESA was MTN Mobile money. But that got scrapped when the Nigerian Federal Government realized that having a foreign company (MTN is South African owned) controlling a majority of Nigeria’s currency was a bad idea. So CBN created an interesting rule that…

“excludes telecom operators from providing mobile payments services, limiting their role to merely the provision of the channel (infrastructure) through which other providers’ services can be offered.” source leadership.ng

And this singular rule, has led to the creation of a multitude of non-effective mobile money channels in Nigeria. We have First Monie, Paga, Pokcet Moni, Zenith EazyMoney, pay attitude and the list goes on and on. But sadly none of them have caught on. None of them have become truly become universal. Because unlike Kenya’s M-pesa which is driven by the telecommunications companies, ours are not.

Nigeria is in dire need of its own M-PESA. If the Government can do this in 2016, it will be a huge Economic stimulus that would aid the flow of money within Nigeria. But we need to start by reversing the CBN exclusion of Telecom Operators from mobile money, only then are we going to get our own Kenya M-PESA! Copy Kenya.

Conclusion
Tax Churches, Scrap Pensions, Arrest Landlords!
Quite radical ideas on the surface, but if you look beyond the outlandish titles and focus on the core Economic principles in the ideas above then you will see strategic ways the Government can grow the Economy. For now the Government’s approach has been almost Military like STOP FOREX and TAX the CITIZENS. The END.

We need more creativity, more nuances if our economy is to survive in 2016.

Okechukwu Ofili is a trouble maker, the author of 4 books and speaks at organizations that are tired of hearing the same old stuff and want the truth. He is also the founder of okadabooks.com and blogs daily at ofilispeaks.com You can follow him on Twitter or stalk him on Instagram You can also read his funny books on konga or okadabooks

85 Comments

  1. lagos is my home

    February 10, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Ofillis until you become a landlord have several seats ……….even with the yearly payment do you know the stress a lot of landlord go through to collect rent . Many tenant living for years without paying for years and the Judiciary structure to evite is a joke . Just look around the Onigbese lifestyle in all aspect of life for some nigerians. How many Nigerian are actually living according to their “material ” …. I like an argument that is fair and look at both side . This is just a one sided ranting and after first paragraph I just switched off .

    • lagos is my home

      February 10, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      so many typos……lol . .thats what happens when you look at BN at work and need to log off quickly

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 10, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      And how do you know I am not a landlord =D

    • busybee

      February 10, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      Housing allowance is also paid yearly in most companies so I don’t understand his point here. If you get 600k from your job and only pay 50k, please what business will you invest that money in that will start coughing up guaranteed 50k every month from the next month until December? Apart from yahoo yahoo and stealing, I’m not sure I want to gamble with my shelter like that.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 10, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      This here is my EXACT point.

      What percentage of Nigerians receive housing allowance?

      No need to compute it, its very low. The majority of Nigerians, the middle class, the entrepreneurs the ones that will save our Economy do not receive yearly allowance. So a 1-3 month rent payment will be a BIG relief to them.

  2. Wale

    February 10, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Very, very insightful….I agree with you. Pay pension earlier.

  3. LEM

    February 10, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Very radical and great ideas I must say, especially on taxing churches. In Europe especially the UK, Churches are taxed that’s why you don’t see them in every other street unlike what is obtained in Lagos. They like covering their activity in the name of non-profit organizations but meanwhile they build universities their own members cannot afford, come up with all sorts of projects for their members to contribute to but make little to no real meaningful impact on the society. I am all for taxing the church o jare!

    • BB

      February 10, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      That is so FALSE. Churches in the UK are not taxed.
      In the UK, individual churches are classed as charities under UK law and therefore do not pay tax; they claim back any tax paid on donations/bank interests through Gift Aid. Please let us be sure about what we type!

    • B.E

      February 10, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      They do not pay tax but at least declare their income and expenditure and it is public knowledge. Is this the same for naira churches?

    • Noname

      February 10, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      @LEM can you name some of these countries. I am a keen learner.

    • Lo

      February 12, 2016 at 7:07 am

      Sorry but this is a lie, in the UK churches are not taxed. No need to make up stories here.

  4. mrs chidukane

    February 10, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Scratch that landlord one oh. People will blatantly owe rent and be talking on top of it. The other ideas are alright.

  5. MadamB

    February 10, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    A lot of people can owe for Africa , you see them all well dressed yet been owing left right and center . My Sister was sending clothes to Nigeria to sell , credit here and there almost ruined her . The Landlord idea i dont support , you need to see what Landlord go through

  6. prince

    February 10, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    So you’re indirectly telling the government to tax God since the money I gave to church, I gave to God and not man. That’s senseless. Your government should reduce their spending. The National and State Assembly should be part time, pay them whenever they come for deliberations, that’s what’s happening in Swiss.
    In Nigeria, an honourable member has a PA, the PA has an SA, the SA has an assistant, the assistant has a secretary, this I know very well and its madness.
    When crude was 120per barrel, what did you benefit from the stupid government that ruled you then, now that crude is almost nothing, I should be the one paying. for their wrongs and cluelessness. not possible. As for my pension, i’ll want it earlier, that’s the only one I’m giving you an A for.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 10, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      “So you’re indirectly telling the government to tax God since the money I gave to church, I gave to God and not man. That’s senseless.”

      What’s senseless to me is giving money to a Human being that spends it in Dubai (COZA) and thinking that you are giving it to God.

      But again we are free to have our opinions. That’s the beauty of democracy.

    • Ofili Lewis

      February 10, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      Just commenting on COZA, while I have frowned at such extravagance at the same time I think it is very unwise to assume that it was the church that paid for the party.

      1. He may have a business on the side where he earns additional income, i.e Speaking engagements, consulting for other churches and royalties from his IPs. These are other ways many Pastors earn extra income
      2. A group within and or outside the church may have sponsored the event ( I don’t know)
      3. ETC ETC

      By the way, I do not worship with COZA.

      That been said, I agree with your controversial ideas (excluding arresting landlord) as I do with most of your similar controversial ideas on your blog.

    • Anon Today

      February 10, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      To the author,
      I don’t understand the obsession with churches. There are other religious organisations in Nigeria using the same modus to generate money but you conveniently left them out. And you had to mention COZA in the comments section, as though you were sure the pastor tasked the congregation to sponsor his birthday gig. Other Nigerians can get away with more extravagant parties but when a pastor does it … he must have hoodwinked his members into donating for that purpose. Smh.
      Given your wealth of knowledge of how churches garner resources you should know that some of these pastors often receive multimillion naira gifts they didn’t ask for (Bruno’s suggestion on educating members is relevant in this regard). You should also know that some of these pastors have the capacity to multiply the funds available to them and become wealthy without dipping their hands into the church’s coffers.

    • busybee

      February 10, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Can I like this 1 billion times. I don’t know who paid for the COZA party but I find it very extravagant and unnecessary given his recent scandal and the economic situation in Nigeria. To be honest, the fact that some pastors can’t relate to the suffering of their church members is a food for thought.

    • niyoola

      February 10, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      Hahahaha

      Tax God. really? That’s what you interpreted it as?

    • The Bull

      February 10, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      “In Nigeria, an honourable member has a PA, the PA has an SA, the SA has an assistant, the assistant has a secretary, this I know very well and its madness.” after all these PAs and SAs help rob us where does part of the money go? The Church and no one questions them, maybe that is why every tom, dick and harry is a pastor in Nigeria, real easy money from gullible people

    • Observaunt

      February 10, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”

  7. Puzzles

    February 10, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Ofili, I don’t agree with “arrest landlord”.

    For the landlord, his house is his business, his source of income. We the tenants are the issue.

    1. Cut your coat according to your size. if you cannot afford the rent, look for another place
    2. Some of us don’t plan well. You know your rent is 250,000 a year and landlord might increase it to 300,000. Either you save 25000 per month so that if landlord increases the rent, you can pay or save 21000 per month and move to another place
    3. Some people will still owe money even if rent is monthly instead of yearly.

    If landlords tell u the headache they go thru to collect rent eh. Some tenants refuse to pay and refuse to leave the house. Some sue the landlord sef. Some leave without paying and even damage the house.

    That is why some landlords refuse to rent their house to certain people based on their tribe (the igbos can testify), their marital status (single ladies, I lie?), and even their jobs (I once had a landlady who refused to rent a room to a guy because he was a government worker as the state was notorious for not paying workers their salaries for months)

    Don’t worry, Ofili. One day, when you become a landlord (the one that rents out o, not the one that lives in his own house only), come back and read this your article and see if you would agree with it.

    The only issue I have with landlord is the 2 years rent some insist on. Paying per year, no problem

  8. bruno

    February 10, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    tax churches? thats a very dumb idea. taxing churches is like taxing charity organisations.

    Instead why not educate nigerians to stop dashing their pastors their hard earned money.

    there are other ways of giving back to ur God. u dont have to give money to ur church. instead go to an orphanage or a hospital. there are so many nigerians who can’t pay their hospital bills help these people with ur money,instead of giving ur pastor who has private jets and schools ( im not mentioning any names but u know the pastors)

    • ifunanya

      February 21, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      Churches, especially in Nigeria, are not by any means “charity organizations”. I completely agree with taxing churches. They should contribute their own quota to economic development by way of taxes and community projects.

  9. Noreos

    February 10, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Yes, to getting pension early, yes, to some form of taxation for churches, but for the landlord bit i disagree. Unlike the US, were your apartment complex runs a background check on you, runs your social and the like to ensure that you are credit worthy, Nigeria unfortunately doesn’t have such a system. In addition, the eviction process in the US is easy, straight forward and all parties are carried along. Try that in Naija and you will realize that you have to bribe one police to come and “do though guy” for your tenant, then they would invite their pastor, babalawo, Iman and family member’s to come and beg you in the name of God to allow them stay for just one more month, Wahali, they would pay you everything owed before, just for them to run away before the end of the week. Therefore, until we have some checks and balances, implementing your suggested approach would leave landlords open to crazy people

    • mee

      February 10, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      even if the police succeeds in throwing the tenant out,if they decide to come back and kill you,you are on your own,Biko its very dicey

  10. [email protected]

    February 10, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    What is your problem with landlords? Your point there is questionable. Let me tell you something that saved us. Advanced payments to landlord, that even when things were so hard we knew that rent was not one of the things we had to bother about. Because rent had been pain upfront, we had worries, alot, but we had a house to sleep in. So if people are doing three months advanced payment and things then run out of hands and they cnt seem to pay the remaining and landlord is asking them out nko? I honestly think one year is good enough, as you go through the year you just resolve with your landlord and all. Well different roads for differnt people.
    But, you (the writer) should resolve your issue with your landlord!

  11. The real D

    February 10, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    I used to be an advocate for monthly rent until I came to the realization that many Nigerian tenants believe the definition of being a tenant is having free access to your landlord’s $$. You would be surprised at the percentage of people that subscribe to this belief system as well. Imagine a tenant (who has unpaid rent) telling owed landlord he should also pay his/her electricity bill “since all hands are not equal”. Now do you really think someone like that would be diligent in paying monthly rent???

    Secondly, paying monthly rent does not equal having 11 months worth of rent in your pocket. An article was featured recently on BN about saving for bills such as rent on a monthly basis and I tend to agree with that. Rent like tuition are expenses you know the price/cost before hand so why not see it as a monthly expenditure and put money aside every month towards that upcoming bill??

    I.e you pay N700,000/annum for your apartment due on the 2nd day of every New Year. You want monthly rent, easy peasy put aside about N54k every month so come Jan 2nd you are not searching for what appears to be a daunting 700k. The impression I get from your “having 11 months rent in your pocket” is that as with many Nigerians you want to live Feb-Dec rent free and only want our landlords asking for 1 month’s rent come Jan because should you pay rent monthly then like the example i gave you will be short 54k every month, therefore nullifying the logic behind your first point. I.e at the end of the year 700k still goes out of my pocket into landlord’s hands anyway you slice it. We need to start learning the art of saving as a country not spending all we have and then scrambling at the last minute or worse when emergency comes knocking.

  12. Noms

    February 10, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Sir Ofili, you asked how someone jnew you weren’t a landlord already, so I take it that you are one and collect monthly rent from your tenants….well done.

    Early pensions makes sense to me. I have actually thought about it before you mentioned it and think it should be reviewed. If withdrawals can be made once in 10years sef,its something.

    About taxing churches, for what should they be taxed for exactly?
    *free will donations from their members/
    *Providing power for themselves
    *construction and maintenance of roads around these church
    I know most of the big churches have schools and all that which are taxed and that is ok.

    Nigerian government officials should regulate their spendings… from frequent trips abroad for medical issues or summits or whatever…sitting allowances, gucci rice ….
    I’m simply saying leave the church money out of Nigeria’s problem.
    Most of us who give in churches have an understanding and we are not complaining.

    • kele

      February 10, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      Educational institutions are exempt from taxes b.

    • Femfem

      February 10, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      Abed which one be Gucci rice??

    • Noname

      February 10, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Designer rice maybe. They used to sell it in Alade market, I don’t know if they still do. It’s just the Allen avenue version of Bank-Olemoh rice. Fried stew as we know it.

  13. bea

    February 10, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    To make it simple. Commit churches to Social responsibilities. if you tax them Governmment will steal teh money it wont benefit us.

    but make them audit their account and insist a certain percentage of their profits must go to agreed social responsibilities like tying of road; building of brigdes. provision of accomodation for the homeless ; aged etc

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 10, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      I like that … a much better idea.

    • molarah

      February 10, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      But a lot of churches ARE already involved in CSR activities! That they don’t blow their trumpet does not mean they don’t do so. This constant “chuking eye” into church funds – wanting to legislate and manage how they are spent – I don’t know what benefit we want to gain out of it. As a commenter above stated, if the government was more strategic with its spending, we won’t be in this mess in the first place. Carry the trouble to the owner of the load – stop trying to put the burden on those that didn’t create or didn’t contribute to the mess. For every megachurch and flashy pastor you see, there are several others stretching themselves out with outreaches, scholarships for less privileged, missions, and still trying to balance their books. And you want these ones to pay taxes??? If you can’t find a way of singling out the pastors/churches you think are extravagant for taxation, abeg let’s quash that church tax agenda.

  14. concerned9a

    February 10, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Atrocious!! ..so called Xtian Pastor throwing All White Party on Arab soil..
    And we still waiting on his robust reply…people worshipping there I imagine are only interested iin attaining the so called Pastor’s riches ..

  15. Tolu

    February 10, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    I strongly support the taxing of churches since most of them are money extorting outlet. In fact the church extorts money from Nigerian more than the NPF

  16. Grace

    February 10, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    I agree with you Ofili, i wish i can share this with the Senate or even the President..(but i i dont know anyone)..SMH

    Release pension early o

    I wish to say a lot too but again am too tired to type. Next time.

  17. T

    February 10, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    how about you slash the outrageous allowances our law makers are given?Or stop using the country’s money to host frivolous dinners for ‘social media change agents'(really?you people are funny in this country)while the economy is crumbling. Or seize the assets of EVERYBODY who has benefited illegally from past administrations? How about you give support to indigenous businesses and innovations?(saw a tweet/pictures some days ago about a Nigerian guy who built a generator powered by water)you forgot the obvious ones,didn’t you?

    P.S: You seem pained about COZA in dubai.i’m neither a member or a fan,but like you pointed out,People ‘GAVE’ (operative word) it might seem senseless to you,but that’s neither here nor there. I’m sure if it bothers them as much as it bothers you,they’ll stop giving. Let’s face the real issues abeg.

  18. Different Shades of Nigerian

    February 10, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    But in Nigeria, churches are not charity organizations. Ofili also gave suggestions on how these churches can be tax exempt… if they complete certain projects. But I am all for taxing the mutha out of Nigerian churches, their excesses is tooo much

  19. Double Taxation

    February 10, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Before my salary is paid, FIRS deducts tax from the source on my salary-meaning my salary is already taxed.

    Now, out of the already taxed salary, i remove 10% and pay to God, government should collect tax on the already taxed salary? doesn’t make sense.

    2. Reduction in government spending, official cars, SAs PAs SSAs, secretaries….read Gombe state appointed 46 SAs and PAs, for what? If the Governor is that dumb that he needs 46 SAs and PAs, he shouldnt be elected. He doesn’t have any vision for the state and cant think.

    3. Pensions, definitely Yes!. 40- 45 should be the age of access considering the life expectancy rate in Nigeria

    4. Rent, Well, both has its Pros and Cons. Paying monthly is fine, Paying one off is fine but considering the fact that majority’s salary cant even cater for their monthly expenses, how can they set aside 50k/70k, as proposed by many up there. Many of those who proposed that are either staying with their parents, their husbands paying the rent or their office pays them upfront. If you dont have any other source, how can you set aside 50k out of 70k salary.

    Dont tell me someone staying in a 600K(50 *12months) is living large, cos 600k in abuja will only get u a self contain. so what are we talking about

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 10, 2016 at 6:00 pm

      Thanks for detailed analysis. I appreciate your time.

  20. niyoola

    February 10, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    As per Pension, i think there’s an amendment to the Pension Act that allows you use your pension as part payment for a house (mortgage or outright purchase). Don’t think PenCom has given PFAs the go-ahead though

  21. Nigerian

    February 10, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Mr. Ofili,

    I understand you are a motivational speaker and have authored several books but when it comes to economic policies please take a back sit and leave it for the experts (and there are quite a number of them in Nigeria if only the government will enlist their help).

    Nigeria is not an organized society, there is not social security or credit system and eviction could take years so how in the world do you expect landlords to collect their money monthly. The tenants are actually benefiting to an extent because they get a fixed rent rate for 5yrs (or however many years they pay for) regardless of what the market does. My dad owns several properties in Nigeria and trust me that month to month talk is not practical. And with commercial properties, businesses will rather pay lump sum as opposed to paying month to month (again so they can lock in that rate).

    Your other recommendations (taxing churches, etc), are reckless and idiotic at best and I say this with all due respect. In consideration for my fellow commentators I will not go into details on why your recommendations are careless.

    Again please stick to motivational speaking, economic and fiscal policy is not your area. Trust me leave it alone, you are in dangerous territories big boys (solid economists) will eat you alive in a conversation.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 10, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      Sorry o. Since you know my background and think that Motivational Speaking and writing is all I do.

      But at the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    • Nigerian

      February 10, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      Touche,… everyone is indeed entitled to their opinion and I stand by my statement that you have no qualification or experience to give recommendations (that should be taken seriously) on the Nigerian economy.

      You are a powerful speaker and I respect you.

    • The real D

      February 10, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      @ Nigerian, I wrote my comment and felt bad about saying “what ails you and your `man of God’ is the Negro mentality” . Now, I stand by everything else I wrote but feel I should apologize for that. I don’t know you and as such not in a position to speak to anything that may or may not ail you.

  22. NaijaPikin

    February 10, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    I disagree on the jailing landlords. You have to realize that in most developed countries, there is a credit system. You default on payments and it is reflected on your credit. Negative credit prevents you from having access to loads of better things.

    In naija how will that work? you default on your rent and what happens? You pack your bag, go someone and default again. This is the scam loads of naija pple are running in different sectors. Nothing ties you to your gbese and alerts the world that you are a fraud.

    I’m all for taxing churches, its simply a business in naija. in fact pastoral work should be a degree under the school of business.

  23. Nigerian

    February 10, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Please check your facts sir. COZA has oil money (or some kind of business can’t remember exactly). He has always been extravagant even before going into ministry. Your poverty mentality is baffling. So pastors should live in poverty in order to appear humble.

    • Lizzy

      February 10, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      Mr. Robust reply, welcome to BN. Oil money my black ass.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 10, 2016 at 5:52 pm

      Do share a link to back up your claim. And if indeed he sponsored his Dubai trip with COZA “Oil” money (which I doubt) then he is free to do so =D

    • Anon Today

      February 10, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      @Nigerian, abeg no bother yourself. Do you even have to explain that Pastor Biodun has oil money or some kind of business? And if he doesn’t have oil money nko? Wetin com happen? Whatever happens people will talk, they will talk more when it involves a clergyman. No qualms, one can talk all they want. But I just think it’s wrong for people to publish presumptions without facts.
      Mike Murdoch once gave Pst. Biodun a brand new rolls Royce as a gift. Same Murdoch gifted him a pricey piece of property in Hawaii. He has friends and members who can solely take care of that birthday gathering in just one bank transfer. And he doesn’t have to ask them.
      It was his 50th birthday, he wanted to celebrate it, and he’s not a pauper; he’s blessed. Even if he wanted it on a low-key, some guys will beg him to make it that big on his behalf. When he mentioned the Rolls Royce gift in church a member volunteered to handle everything concerning it’s clearance at the wharf. That’s how it works for some of these pastors sometimes. Sometimes they don’t spend a kobo to get things done in their favour. Sometimes they are so comfortable they don’t need to ask or compel anybody.
      By now someone must think I’m a Cozite in truth and spirit. Well, I’m not. Yes, I’ve been there a number of times but I’m not a member of COZA, not related to the pastor. I have no problem with a clergyman being criticised either. I only have issues with the criticism that is not based on facts.
      One possibility I’m sure of: A clergyman can be wealthy without ripping off the congregation.

  24. Bee

    February 10, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Dear Ofili,

    Arrests landlords, really?
    Like someone said, until you become a landlord with multiple properties to rent out, then you can talk. As much as this works in other countries, let’s not just import ideas because it works in America. We need to think about context and culture. You cannot owe rent in America, can you? You gon be kicked out on your behind before you can say ayamatanga. But, here in our obodo naija, people will live rent free in your house because the case is in court. So, please, leave the landlords alone kwa.
    As for taxing churches, the truth is nobody puts a gun to anyone’s head to give. As adults, we should take responsibility for our actions. Whoever wants to give, please go ahead. Those that don’t want to, please feel free to spend your money as you wish. And let’s be fair to these mega churches, they do their own fair share of CSR thingies, once in a while.
    You need to do proper research about the nigerian pension fund scheme. You can actually access some percentage at a particular time, albeit you have to jump through a lot of hoops to access the fund . But, it’s doable.
    The truth is, as concerns this our economy ehn……before we find a solution…….hmnn!

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 10, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      But biko , how do you know I am not a landlord =/

      Secondly, there is something called hyperbole which per dictionary.com “is a natural exaggeration for the purpose of emphasis.” And I will leave it at that.

      Thirdly, I did research on the pension scheme and yes you can access 20-25% of your funds but only once before 60 at that is it. I on the other hand am proposing 100% unlimited access. But you do raise a good point.

    • BB

      February 10, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      You really do not need to be so DEFENSIVE in your responses/comments. People are free to disagree, that is expected in an open forum like this. Besides, it just seems really immature “countering” everyone who says something you don’t “like”

  25. Drknite

    February 10, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    We should also tax Boko Haram and domestic weddings with 10 or more people.

  26. Anon

    February 10, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Nigerians can be so short sighted it’s appalling. One of the reasons the first-world countries are so successful is that they take a proactive approach to issues. Everything in Nigeria is done reactively (After the fact/ medicine after death)
    On Landlords – The writer is simply proposing a solution that allows your average tenant to have more money in the short-term so that they can use that liquidity to raise even more money. That way they may never have to owe the landlord. While we don’t have a centralized credit system that can be leveraged in the housing market, we can implement something that protects landlords. The government can handle evictions through law enforcement and everyone can be treated fairly. It is not so far-fetched to achieve that for the housing sector if it solves a bigger problem.

    On churches – If they will not be taxed, then they should be held to higher standards of social responsibility as they are in other countries. We cannot ignore the fact that a lot of money flows through that system. Money that can be used to better the lot of God people in the land of living… Also transparency means ill-gotten wealth cannot be hidden and passed through that channel. Even the bible says give unto Caesar. That means churches are obligated to comply and cooperate. Tell us how much you earn, who your large donors are and how this money is being spent.
    On the other issues raised, I think many of us can agree that they are spot-on and reasonable. But we need not be so short-sighted to see the bigger picture of the other points raised. For as long as I can remember, many articles have talked about diversifying and not depending on oil-wealth as our only source of revenue. And alas here we are today reactively trying to solve that problem.

  27. The real D

    February 10, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    @ Nigerian, There is nothing like oil money at $28/barrel go and ask Saudi and just look at the Nigerian economy and that is if what you are saying is even close to the truth. My question is could this extravagant human afford this circus called a birthday bash prior to having COZA? No, it is not poor peoples mentality that is bothering the author it is the negro mentality that ails both you and said man. Joel Osteen who is said to be one of the richest pastors in the world does not throw such lavish circus in the face of his many members. Even in the US the pastors that display such nonsense and hide behind such lame excuses as yours, are pastors of color. Do you see even Bill gates doing such nonsense??? Am I saying all Nigerian pastors have the same issue? Nope, I am no Daystar member but the things I have observed about Sam Adeyemi makes me respect him. Abeg make una no make me start on this. Tired of the rubbish we do as humans and be hiding behind religion gibberish using God has a crutch when He should be our foundation.

    • Nigerian

      February 10, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      Oil is cheap not but that does not take away from the fact that it was yielding GREAT profit a few years ago. If you read my comment I stated that “COZA has oil money (or some kind of business can’t remember exactly)”

      Please don’t be ignorant and condescending towards “Pastors of color” Joel may not opt for a lavish life style but to each his own.

      The richest pastors in the world are mostly white and SIR they splurge OK?!

      Just two examples:
      Benny Hinn:
      Hinn owns a private jet, lives in a $10 million house near the Pacific Ocean, stays in hotel rooms that cost thousands each night, and owns luxury vehicles.

      Joyce Meyer:
      Meyer’s house is a 10,000 square foot home with an 8-car garage, a large fountain, a gazebo, a private putting green, a pool, and pool house with a new $10,000 bathroom. Her salary was reported at $900,000 back in 2003, and she also enjoys use of a private jet and luxury cars.

      Thanks for apologizing about the Negro mentality comment but sir, inferiority complex could lead some to believe that the “white man” always gets it right.

      COZA probably does not even own a jet, all he did was throw ONE party and everyone goes u in flames.

      Should men of God curb their excesses? Sure but I am of the opinion that if God has blessed you don’t go out of your way to look humble just because people are watching.

  28. Taj

    February 10, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    While some of the delivery is defective, I have to say Mr. Ofilis heart is in the right place. i hope our government can read this and atleast borrow something from.it. Thank you, Mr.!

  29. Okechukwu Ofili

    February 10, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks for detailed analysis. I appreciate your time.

  30. Author Unknown

    February 10, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Wanna Rescue our Economy? Clamp down first on corruption in official places, then the general public, and watch Nigeria’s economy grow. Imagine embezzled funds going towards restoring infrastructure? Imagine how much businesses will save if they didn’t have to generate power, or bribe to obtain one permit or the other, or take several months to get some idiot in government to sign some document. I have not even started on the many foreign investors that will finally get the confidence to do business in Nigeria.

    The points you have raised are somewhat valid, but won’t change a thing if corruption isn’t much less prevalent. Trust me, even attendance at religious institutions will dwindle once the government does its job as it should be done. Churches will then, hopefully, no longer be viewed as a place of welfare refuge, and the overnight pastors will be put out of business. The merchant who uses the mobile pay system, though saving elsewhere, will not have to worry about having to deal with artificial red tapes (surely these merchants still have to deal with paying taxes, obtaining permits etc.). Landlords, well. lol. I agree with it, but it appears to be one of those “depending on what side of things you’re on”. Landlords want more in advance, tenants don’t. It boils down to what the law states, and from what you have stated, Landlords have been running illegal enterprises. Again, if your politicians were arguing stuff like rental payment frequency on behalf of their constituents, instead of embezzling public funds. On a lighter note, naijas will not pay rent even if allowed to pay monthly. We’re just bad like that. 11-months’ worth of money freed up would mostly not translate into productive ventures.

    • Reason

      February 10, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Till date we have not heard of any project that Abacha’s loot was used to finance. We all know that EFCC, DSS and Buhari himself are all corrupt. EFCC doesn’t need 1 year to arrest Tinubu. Arrest Tinubu and watch theft in Nigeria truly reduce not all these drama Buhari has been doing.

  31. Manny

    February 10, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    1) ARREST TENANTS
    Come on, which kain 11 months rent money in your pocket. Abeg Ofili, reanalyze that part. If there are 5 toll booths between Lagos and Ibadan, after paying the 1st toll, can u say you have 4 toll payments to use to invest in your business ideas?
    2 years is a lot to pay upfront but I see 1 year as similar to signing a lease like done where I live. And it’s beneficial to tenants as they get to lock down a rate for a year. Otherwise, as with not signing a lease and doing month to month, your rate can be increased at will.

    2) ARE CHURCHES THE ONLY INSTITUTIONS WHERE DONATIONS ARE COLLECTED?????
    Why not say tax zakat? You are a little bit biased against Christianity. Exclusive of this taxation matter, for every 1 extravagant pastor, there are 5 that would give the shirt on their back to a parishioner or neighbor. The bad eggs are just more visible.

    I’m not a fan of the COZA pastor but I don’t understand the criticism of his Dubai party. If the funds used cannot be traced to church donations, then why the brouhaha. Even if na church donations and a majority of the church members approved its use thus, again why the brouhaha? The people that give will stop giving when it bothers them.

  32. Hawt Talk With Tosan

    February 10, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    After all said and done, Nigeria does not have the infrastructure to put all these proposed changes in place. No checks and balance, no data base, no credit system. As for taxing churches, Good luck with that!

  33. Azubike

    February 10, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    I totally understand that there are churches minting money and using God’s name for profit. However, there are churches who stay true to scripture and have no intention of milking the masses. On that note, if you are to tax those “true” churches, you need to tax NGOs as well. Also how do you begin the selection process of what churches aren’t out to milk people? The idea of taxing churches opens a can of worms.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 12, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Another valid point. That’s why I put the option to exempt churches who show that they consistently use tithes for charitable causes.

  34. ToBeReal

    February 10, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Sorry but not buying the COZA oil money story…dude is all kind of wrong..shocking who some Nigerians see as role models talk less a so called man of God..it was prophesided there would be a plethora of false prophets twisting the word of God to suit their agenda.
    Trust the blinded members of COZA to come on here telling us black is white!!
    Bettter shine your eyes..

    • ToBeReal

      February 10, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      *prophesied*

  35. B.E

    February 10, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Love what you said about Joyce Meyer “her salary was reported at……” my issue with pastors who choose to live lavishly is that they have not declared. I was thinking about this Coza party at lunch and thought maybe this guy has multiple sources of income like some pastors have so I Googled and what came up COZA

    Now as a Christian, I understand God said touch not my annointed and do my prophet no harm but God has also given us wisdom to question… Especially if you contribute to one’s source of income, im hoping my UK pastor will let me know who funded such a lavish pastor if I am a tithe payer or offering giver so I’m hoping Pastor Biodun did the same!

    • whatwillbewillbe

      February 11, 2016 at 11:37 pm

      He actually did. I’m not a member of the church, but I visited last year just after his birthday and on that day, he clearly stated that a member had sponsored the whole bash. Infact, all a member who wanted to attend had todo was pay for their ticket I believe, every other thing was sorted.

  36. Olu

    February 10, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    In my opinion, I’d go with Senator Ben Bruce’s idea – Give an amnesty to all looters should they return 95% of the monies stolen. Our judiciary is the core priority to be strengthened for justice to prevail and rule of law followed by all public officials – Looking at the past games played by officials that’s led us to this Mess.

    With regards to the present state – I agree with the ideas of the writer however needs to be approached in a strategic form to carry all parties along.

    Landlords: This will be spot on only if the Housing sector should create a hub of guarantee for landlords. Liquidity would help tenants and economy as a whole from the big picture .i.e. further economic empowerment for all.
    Churches: They should be held for more socially responsible projects and ensured a specific part of funds generated is channeled to the less privileged.
    Pension Funds – Spot on idea here. Deterrent access and interest charges should be applied hence would serve as a dual benefit both to the Govt and the Pension-holder.

    I think the Writer’s ideas are objective and with better strategic adjustment & implementation, it would benefit All.
    (olu_fx)

    • Anonymous

      February 10, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      Why are being subjective, yet say you are objective? Everything has its rules and standards for operation. Why tax a particular religion and leave others abay? Please lets say things in perspective. It is true the church seem to have economic strength, agreed. And some pastors spend extravagantly, which i hate. But that doesn’t give you the right to violate their constitutional right. Please do not mix economy with religion.

  37. Anonymous

    February 10, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    TO THE AUTHOR
    I sincerely want to appreciate your courage to have spelt out your well-thought observations about this great country -Nigeria. Your three points mentioned above are good, however, I do not agree too well with the idea of taxing churches. Honestly i so hate the extravagant nature of some of our Nigerian pastors, that no doubt. But I don’t think it is wise in mingling economic matters with religious matters. Speaking of taxation, it is indeed a national constitutional requirement stipulated to boost the national economy. However, Nigeria as a country is comprised of different religious sect, and whatever is good for the goose must be good for the gander. You can’t ask for the implementation of a national policy that will favor a part and leave the other part abay. What happens to the Muslims and Traditionalists? Are they not part of Nigeria? Why agitate to isolate a particular religious sect and forced to do something unequal, while its counterparts are left smiling? If the churches are taxed, and the Mosques and other religious sects eat off the church’s tax, don’t you think its unfair?
    Trust me, taxing church without taxing other religious institutions in the country is rather an unfair approach irrespective of the economic benefit, will trample on our constitutional right, and become a potential reason for national crisis.
    THANKS BRO.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 10, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      Very valid point.

      I only focus on churches because those are the ones I see with extravagance. But again valid point, if it is applied to churches, then it should apply to all other religions.

  38. madamnk

    February 10, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    I don’t support that landlord bit lai lai. We moved from benin to phc and my father rented our beautiful 6 bedroom duplex to a man and his family. This man decided to use the garden to rear poultry and basically was making the compound a mess. He took out the flowers and the carpet grass and eventually when my father evicted him, he took my father to court. The case has been pending and dragging for 8 years and he has not paid rent the whole period. Some tenants are just devils abeg.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 10, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      There is a landlord, he collected 2 years rent. When the tenants moved in, the water coming into the house was dirty. Tenant went to landlord and asked for help per contract the Landlord is to provide clean water. But with 2 years rent in hand, the landlord could not be bothered. So my friend with his wife, and new born baby had to buy tank/bottled water almost everyday to bathe, eat, shit and drink. Some landlords are devils abeg!

      (point is this …. there are always evil people out there, but if you do your due process as a landlord you will screen and find good tenants, speaking from experience).

  39. Cherry

    February 10, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    Well I don’t agree with the writer on taxing religious organisations, mean while you are a bit biased in your write up, you only want the churches to be taxed,so what happens to the mosques and the shrines, and talking about coza, when the pastor was pastoring their ilorin branch no one noticed him then o, now God has blessed him every one is now raising eyebrow, pls let the pastor be, aside that most of these churches shouldn’t be taxed because they carry out their own social responsibility, I know coza looks after widows and help them financially, Christ embassy as a ministry called the inner city mission they take homeless kids off the street and give them a better life,the church sends these children to school and even cloth them,they also employ lots of graduate helping them start their own life rather than sitting at home since our govt can’t provide jobs, Daystar has a ministry called the real women foundation,which helps widows and prostitutes to have a better life as well, house on the rock helps drug addicts with their addiction and rehabilitate them, most of these churches are already doing what the govt is suppose to do, yet you think they should pay taxes…………….. I totally disagree ,let the churches be n let our govt find a solution to the economic problem of Nigeria

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 12, 2016 at 11:14 am

      The Italian Mafia and Mexican Drug Cartels also did amazing things in their community.

      My point is this … organizations can use charitable events to cover up other nefarious activities.

      At a minimum CHURCHES should make their BOOK transparent and auditable [sic].

  40. nnenne

    February 10, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    Thanks Okechukwu ofili.
    Now, that’s how you think outside the box.

    I really don’t get how people, especially civil servants are asked to pay 2- 3 years rent in advance.
    Why won’t they steal?
    Rent should be regulated. Tenants should pay monthly and there be an established guide to how to deal with non- compliant tenants.
    We all know it takes a lot to build houses but you can’t get all your money back in a year.
    My family owns houses, mind you, but let’s try to be humane please!

  41. amy

    February 11, 2016 at 5:44 am

    It’s only in Lagos and some parts of Naija that property rental cost more than the cost of a house with the best infrastructure and the best school district ( which comes with the address) in some of the top 100 Zip codes in the wealthiest nation on earth. Nigerian properties are highly overvalued, there is no infrastructure built to support the highly prized subdivision. Google the wealthiest 100 Zip codes in America and check out the cost of at least the lower priced homes ( comes with free schools up to high school once you pay your property taxes) and you will appreciate the tragedy of low expectations of a lot of Nigerians. We are so used to a situation where there are no roads, no electricity, etc that we simply just look at the property or “estate” and conclude that the rent or price is justified. Even in some flood zones here, the builders install sunk pumps and channel all the water from potential flood into the beautiful artificial lakes you see in suburban America. A lot of those lakes with ducks playing in them are artificial and there are pipes from each basement in the subdivision to drain water to the lake to prevent flooding.

    The one thing I notice is that once we visit the US for 2 weeks or school here for 4 years we become “experts ” on the US. You cannot really understand this country unless you live and work here and no matter how much we love to copy their dressing and accent/ lifestyle, we need to go deeper to understand how to really develop. Nigerians are better off if more people own homes not one person owning 50 homes. It’s the greed from the poverty in our not too distant past generations that makes us feel charging $200,000 per annum in some parts of Lagos as rent is justified. It’s insane!

  42. Blackbeauty

    February 11, 2016 at 8:01 am

    I’m not certain what my stance on taxing churches is but some ‘Pastors’ don’t fear God. I used to naively think that just because you’re a ‘man of God’ you’d treat church funds as sacred and be responsible in your dealings. In fact, you should have a church board who can ask you to account for monies spent.
    Frankly I was surprised that one small boy in his twenties whom I only knew in passing and was a struggling student at the time, suddenly was called into ministry and within two years or less, had built his house and was driving two cars.
    Hmmm… Diaris God o!!!

  43. Tee

    February 11, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Which one is poverty mentality again… Mind how you speak /type biko… Your use of derogatory words belittles the point you’re trying to pass across.

  44. Ola

    February 11, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Not just a certain percentage… a very chunky percentage! Isn’t the money supposed to be used for God’s work? Helping the needy.

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