Bauchi’s government has a convoluted policy on taxation of religious organizations, but we agree with the spirit of its decision.
Convoluted because, according to Baba Madubi, Commissioner for religious affairs and community relations, the government has spent at least N95,111, 300 for Quranic recitation competitions in the last two years.
“The ministry intends to embark on the registration of worship places and taxing beneficiary organisations who benefit from the services of the government. It also intends to undertake the survey of all places of worships (mosques and churches) throughout the state, including their addresses and contacts for security and political reasons,” he said. The ministry intends to solicit the centralisation of all religious activities so as to achieve maximum service deliver.”
This just sounds like a roundabout way to say, ‘we need more revenues and so we will use every excuse we can find’.
No matter. We have always said, since religious organizations have moved beyond their traditional roles across the world and have become perhaps the most important – and resourced – institutions in Nigeria. We need to treat them beyond mere charities. We need to treat them in a class of their own.
They will kick against this. But it is ultimately for the good of the church and its image for it to be operate as a responsible citizen that is able to approach entrepreneurial ventures like many of them do while discharging responsible to state and submitting to financial accountability.
The church in Nigeria can’t keep pretending to be just a helpless charity needing help. It is powerful. It needs to move those limits. It needs to acknowledge the power it has, and the extent of its influence. And that may begin by sacrificing its present financial latitude.
It can – and should – do more than it does now, for society. For country.