Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, the Anglican Church Primate, has revealed that there is a Federal Government mandate asking the leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria (NSCIA), to create measures where the ownership of churches and mosques in the country can be regulated.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, the nation’s capital on Thursday, May 21, 2015, the Primate also stated that churches that operate based on income generated by church owned businesses should pay tax.
“The church is a registered charity organisation, not minding one person owning a church. What is bringing the issue of taxation is the one-man ownership of some churches. Since the church is a charity organisation, there is no need to pay tax. But if the church has an establishment that generates income, such a church should pay tax to government.
“There should be a way of regulating ownership of churches. The Jonathan administration has given the mandate to CAN and NSCIA. If any of these organisations have hotels, schools and other outfits like bakery, we have to pay tax,” he stated.
He also enjoined Nigerians to be patient with the incoming administration emphasizing that it would not be a very easy task to fix the country within the next 4 years. He suggested that the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, be given a year to properly assess the situation and set his agenda accordingly.
He said, “Nigerians should be patient with Buhari, otherwise he will worsen things if Nigerians push him to the wall and rush him into action. Let us give him a year to study the situation and set the agenda properly. It is difficult to fix Nigeria within six months.
“You can’t even fix a country within four years. Buhari has to take pain in making decisions, otherwise Nigerians will cause trouble for him. So, Nigerians should pray for him and be patient with him.”
On the issue of corruption, the Primate challenged General Buhari to do something about it.
“Corruption is not something you wipe out within six weeks. Giving Buhari the mandate to wipe out corruption is over-syllabus,” Okoh said.
On the allegation by the Executive Director of the Voice of Northern Christian Movement, Mr. Musa Dikwa, that Christian leaders were offered N7 billion to ensure they campaign for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan, he said the allegations “should be taken with a pinch of salt” as they had come at a time when two high profile political parties need to desperately win the elections.
Okoh also denied the allegation by the controversial Executive by the Presidency to campaign for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in the last general elections.
According to him, since the allegation came at a time when the two major political parties were so desperate to win elections at all costs, the allegation “should be taken with a pinch of salt.”