In the wake of the Lockdown that began in April, Nigerians actually worried more about the fact that churches and mosques were closed than they were about their own health, massive job losses, crimes, mass killings in the North and other sundry ailments that afflict the nation. The reason, it would seem, is, in the words of former President Goodluck Jonathan, “my people are very religious”.
For the first time in 5 years ,Muhammadu Buhari, president, has angered some of his most fervent worshippers (procured and genuine ). He has just this month signed into law a bill that essentially intends for the government to get heavily involved in the affairs of the church. Especially, in the area of financial services and ownership structure.
Nigeria’s “unorthodox” churches (another name for home grown denominations)co-incide with the corporate world in just about everything.
Fierce ownership struggle, tight cash controls, litigations, expansions/ branches eliminations of competitions, annual conventions, private jets,
franchises, hostile takeovers, succession problems, breakaways, factions and litigations.
All that looks set to change thanks to the new law signed by Mr Buhari on August 7. Dubbed, Companies and Allied Matters Act of 2020, CAMA, the law seeks to repeal an existing one in which ownership of businesses are often shrouded in secrecy and financial improprieties abound.
Interestingly enough,(and vexatiously enough for church owners ) churches, for instance, would or can now have their boards of trustees changed and replaced by government.
Government will now also look at their books, i.e check their finances. And if a fraud were detected ? Well!
Oh, it also looks like members of a church can now sue the leadership.
A sore point ,for another instance, would be when a member seeks to know the true owners of the Universities and aircraft that pastors and General overseers operate.
And it also looks like churches would be taxed when they make profits. The law is hazy on tithes and offering but the wording isn’t church owner-friendly.
And so, for
the above reasons, Mr Buhari is in hot waters. His army of handlers have
already gone to work in trying to mitigate the effect of the lawAn angry pastor that wants to be anonymous has the following to say:
“I am 51 years old in this thing (Christianity), don’t try it. I have been with Jesus for some time and I am sent as a prophet to nations. That a minister can remove the trustees and close the accounts of the church is unacceptable”.
For some reason, the most affected people are from Nigeria’s South West, a place Mr Buhari thinks he enjoys lots of support. The heads of the churches in that section often need to endorse Mr Buhari’s unpopular decisions such as shutting the borders, retaining overdue -for retirement service chiefs, etc.
What’s more, Vice president Yemi Osibanjo is a pastor of one of those.
Plus, these people helped Mr Buhari’s rise to power in the area of propaganda and suchlike.
Some have said that Mr Buhari has “declared war on God”. His actions are also “ungodly, reprehensible and ; an ill-wind that blows no one any good”.
What more again, head of Nigeria’s house of representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, used to be an elder in a church but, according to reports, converted to Mr Buhari’s religion in the summer of 2019.
Nigeria’s Christian clergy is able to tell its congregation that God is the beneficiary of their donations, tithes and offering. But looks like Mr Buhari wants to know how true that is.