By Adedara Oduguwa (26/05/2016)
Good morning country people, how is the economy treating you and how are you coping with the new price of tomatoes? Price still stands constant here at #100 for a fresh tomato. Well, that is by the way. This paper attempts to look into actions or inactions of the institutional complementarities (IC) over the years. Although, government remains a significant part of our existence; role(s) of IC is almost if not completely undermined.
What are institutional complementarities?
These are the totality of institutions established by God and man to complement or augment efforts and activities of government and the poor masses of any given institution or country. Similarly, the act connotes interdependence among institutions (Gagliardi, 2014). The IC includes:
- Religion houses
- Art/ entertainment sector
- Trade unions /journalists
- Political parties
- Armed forces
- Human rights bodies
However, when government is on track, it is role of the IC to commend her activities and when it is the other way round; it is still role of the IC to react proportionately in order to get her back on track. The IC act completely as checks and balances for government and just like the judiciary, persistently interprets the laws of the land through seasonal town criers and situational campaigns against abuse of the rule of law. Hence, it is right to say the IC represents the voice of the masses or a watchdog!
Over the years, Nigeria’s institutional complementarities have not only failed to live up to expectations but deliberately exhibit ‘I don’t care attitude’, what I simply refer to as ‘hypocritical tendencies’ which are capable of taking us aback to Egypt. More so, it is not naysay that our churches, mosques, artists, trade unions, political parties, armed forces and the human rights bodies only parade themselves for personal earnings. They talk only when the Aristocrats ask them to talk, who wear diadem like the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh with the title ‘Never to die never.’
Logically or perhaps reasonably, government cannot do it all alone with arms fold-up by the IC. We cannot continue to blame governments at all levels (local, state and federal) for this messy economic show-of-shame. To do this is not only unjust but acrolein capable of wiping away our institutional existence.
For instance, average offerings and tithes of churches in Nigeria is over 11trillion annually. Enough to assist government in offsetting many if not all of her annual expenditures i.e Power, Housing, Education, Agriculture, health and works etc. Even mosques, with their meagre contributions are capable of generating 30% of the annual revenue of the churches. This looks resounding and unreasonably right?
Evidently and statistically for example, there are over 15million members of the Redeemed Christian Church alone. Let us assume that only 13million of them pay offerings on average of #500 * 13million = 6,500,000,000 every Sundays. This figure * 52 (since there are 52 weeks in a year) =338,000,000,000. This is the minimum that can be realised in offerings yearly by one of the five mega churches (i.e Redeemed, Winners, Christ Embassy, Synagogue and Mountain of Fire). In addition, let us assume that only 12million members are faithful with tithing, and let us put average tithe at 1800 (since minimum wage is 18000* 10% of this figure equals 1800) i.e 1800*12million members =21,600,000,000 * 52 (since there are 52 weeks in a year)=1,123,200,000,000 as total revenue in tithe for a year. Tithe + offering = 1,461,200,000,000 in other words, the minimum amount any of the mega churches makes per year is approximately 1.5 trillion naira.
You will agree with me that this tentative figure is lower than the actual amount since many gives more than 1million as tithe and average offering is also more than #500. Nonetheless, let us continue to work with this figure. Since we know how much one of the five mega churches makes per annum, to arrive at a tentative figure for the five, let’s say 5* 1.5trillion = 7.5trillion all figures in naira. This figure is staggering, more staggering it becomes when we consider that special donations, special services (i.e Holy Ghost Service or Shiloh) or weekly programmes were already excluded from the calculations.
Moreover, we cannot completely ignore smaller and conventional churches (i.e Methodist, Catholic, Deeper Life , The Adventist, Celestial etc) , let us assume the totality of these forms of churches only generated about 50% of this 5 mega churches revenue i.e 50% * 7.5trillion naira = 3.75trillion naira. Summing this up gives 3.75+ 7.5=11.25.
This is the minimum all the churches in Nigeria can generate yearly from offering and tithing. In addition, since we agree that mosques are capable of making at least 30% of this figure through donations i.e 30% * 11.25=3.375trillion, all figure in naira. Therefore, grand total of revenue of churches and mosques per year i.e 11.25+3.375 =14.627 trillion, approximately 15trillion naira annually. Sad! We never look into this direction.
What is this money for? How much is giving back to the church/mosque (people) from this huge amount? How much is spent annually on the most vulnerable members of our society i.e needy, widows, widowers, orphans, unemployed, aged and women in general? What standard are they following? Where do they learn this ‘take away all doctrine’? Was Jesus building earthily empire in His time? These are just few questions that run to mind.
Arguably, assuming the Nigerian religion houses (churches and mosques) come together and contribute only 40% of 15trillion generated annually to offset one or more of government expenditure i.e lets say unemployment, through creating soft loans for SMEs, that is 15*0.40= 6 trillion naira. Wow! This huge amount is capable of creating more jobs than people can do. Nonetheless, do you think everything will still remain at status quo?
Apart from the financial contributions; our religion houses continually refrain from speaking the truth. According to the Old and New Testament of the Bible, not once or twice were preachers seen delivering doom messages to kings and emperors for leading the people astray. How many of such have we seen in Nigeria? None! And if there is any, someone must have paid the bills. Are pastors cautioned by God never to touch the anointed maximum rulers in government? Or are modern clergies not interested in people or what the economy is turning many into? These are just few lines of worries.
Unfortunately, average donors in the mosque or church are men and women whose total capital or earnings are not more than #20,000 per month. Gloomier it becomes when we God opens your eyes to see what these clergies are using our money to buy. Nay wonder the book of Proverbs 22:16 put it thus:
“He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.”
Moreover, many faith universities or institutions were built with the poor masses wealth. It is ridiculous that only children whose parent once worked with Obasanjo, Atiku or Dasuki directly can afford to attend such faith institutions. As if God created the poor for penury and give birth to children that should follow suit. Ah! Without mincing words, this is a wicked world for the poor; probably they will be first to see Jesus!
However, it baffles some of us that religion centres; most especially churches are built almost every week at about 2kilometres, with no funding from the headquarters. Young pastors are laboured to scout for donors who will help to build new offering & tithe bank. It is the same poor masses, who often put in their full energy and their meagre financial resources together to save the lost souls. The new church is built and offering and tithe transferred immediately they are realised to the headquarters.
At the headquarter, most senior pastor announces the church intention toward any project and ask for volunteers to contribute cheerfully towards it. The richest among men would bounce out, to torment and oppress the poor through ill-gotten wealth. Yet, the poor will cheerfully and worriedly drop the little in his/her possession and if pastor peeps from the altar, he/she will joyfully drop his/her children’s school fees with hope and faith in Almighty God for miracle. Wow! It is as if all these sacrifices were only in vain when church’s schools are no- go-area for the same faithful servants!
To worsen the case, clergy’s children are not on a par with average member of the congregation. They live large and enjoy sweat of their parent’s labour. Nonetheless, with this high level of irresponsibility exhibited by our religion houses, it leaves no one in doubt that they should be taxed as declared by the radical governor of Kaduna state (Mallam Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai). For instance, average income of churches and mosques are more than profits made by Dangote Group of companies annually. In 2015, Dangote Group made $3 billion, about 900billion naira (Dangote Group Financial Statement, 2015) this is below the average 1.5 trillion naira annually made by the five mega churches. Yet, the company is heavily taxed.
Most clergies have turned politicians, whose interest is to preach prosperity and not salvation. Well, since we have been greatly cautioned or warned against speaking the truth. Perhaps, ironically, through the teachings of the missionaries. Nevertheless, we must give cheerfully even if we don’t have. ‘It is only wise to give all you have to God’ says one Believer. As if some of us are non-Christians. The bible remains a guide and standard, not pastor or preacher. I can’t fathom this is what true Christianity or Islam is all about. No!!! It is not. I challenged this sentiment. How did we get here? Whose script are we reading? Who brought Christianity to Africa? What were the lessons from them? The Missionaries? Yes!
Historically, the Missionaries came into Nigeria first in the 15th century (1472) and between 1515 and 1842 had established several institutions of learning in Badagry, Benin and Abeokuta (Fafunwa,1975), which were free for everyone. They don’t even have 10% of what is available today to our churches. The education was free and impactful. Many of the great generation (1900-1940) enjoyed this system. Yet, they are great today. What then happened along the way? Where is the conscience of our pastors? Or is there a new standard for salvation apart from truthfulness? It is sad and more sadden it becomes that we cannot but continue to follow blindly. Let me pulse here, I will come back to this later.
In the 40s, 50s and early eve of 1960s, you will hardly find an entertainer that is pro-government, this is not to say they hate government but because they were for the truth. Before independence, works of Chief Adedeji Hubert Ogunde speaks volume. In that primitive eon, Ogunde staged dramas that were thought provoking such as Israelites in Egypt, Kini a o fi kobo Ojumo Se?, The Tigre’s Empire, Nebuchadnezzar and King Solomon and Yoruba Ronu in the wake of 1960s, just to mention a few. The titles and tone of these stage dramas hard-earned him jail and ban on several occasions but he remained resolute.
In addition, activities of early journalists and writers like Herbert Macaulay, Oba Samuel Akinsanya (from Isara Remo), Ernest Ikoli (An Ijaw man), Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (his West African Pilot), Chief Obafemi Awolowo (Daily Times and later The Nigerian Tribune Newspaper), Prof. Wole Soyinka (in his early career), Prof. Chinua Achebe and several others, whose writing prowess shaped and helped our existence immeasurably. Then, those market women and women activists like the powerful Efusetan Aniwura, Mrs Olufunmilayo Ransom Kuti and several women who belong to that generation.
In the 70s, musicians such as Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Chief Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi and Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, added their voices. Fela’s contribution was second to none, which earned him death of his mother and demolition of Kalakuta Republic (his Estate).
Looking through my feeble diary, one will not forget in jiffy contributions of late Chief Gani Faweyimi whose replica is found in Chief Femi Falana of this world. Today, what happen to our mindsets?
Modern journalists do not see when politicians do not want them to see. They do not say when they are not heavily paid to say and they do not write and publish when brown envelop have not been given to them. ‘Everything is for sale’ Said one journalist. Disappointedly, we do not read the truth any longer than voices and opinions of the ruling class. Today, a writer writes for Mr. A, tomorrow another writes for Mr. B, all creating confusionist serenity for the vulnerable populace to follow carelessly with rapt attention and inquisitiveness. Little do they wonder why the two opposing parties still dine together at last-night dinners? We have been robbed and fooled.
What about our freedom fighters? Somebody says they are ‘Pocket pickers’ like Judas, they derailed from the righteous cause into roads once trekked by tyrants. They speak only against poor or no payment of suborn. They make hypocritical noises just to get carrot or national honours. Nobody seems to care about the suffering masses whose voices are so faint to make a word. Today, they are in Oshodi tomorrow at Abuja discussing modalities of how the loots are to be shared. Yet, many still follow them impetuously as if they are the only rope to our hope. Human right activists are now a mockery of our human sense. Until we become wise to know we are wise, our senses will continue live in their prison of deceit.
Modern armed forces can easily be equated to what my friend suffered in India. He was harassed for given a bribe. To say our armed forces are corrupt is litotes. If you walk carelessly with briefcase full of notebooks, the Nigerian Police can mistaken it for money. My dear, should this happen, you are on your own. My personal experience is a confirmation from many others’ story. It is even better to be duped and let go, than to report such case to the police, you might end up spending more, yet, even if the culprits are later found, the Nigerian Police might take the case through Open Market Operation (OMO), where the highest bidder becomes winner of the case. It is disappointing that appointed thief-catchers are themselves thief-savers. Our forces are now law breakers and looted money bankers. The other time, a million dollars was found in a force’s man toilet. Shameful!
I vividly remember the great labour leader, Michael Aikhamen Omnibus Imoudu, who led the 1945 first ever nationwide strike against the colonial regime. He did it with utmost good faith, and earned respect of his colleagues and the people. He was not paid to do this; he felt it was right. What about the gallant Aba women, who led the popular Aba Women Riot of 1922. They demonstrated the strength of mothers by fighting nakedly against a compulsory tax regime levelled against their husband. These were real moments of patriotism.
The political caste had successfully turned us against ourselves; through monies they throw at us during moments of campaigns. This money politics bereft us of speaking the truth. Our logic of reasoning is being polluted as money collected yesterday is capable of buying us 5litres of petrol at 145 naira per litre and our wives can cook stew without tomatoes.
Conversely, The ruling-class our confused propagandists, who come together through unholy amalgams. The opposition today was yesterday dashing out billions just to remain in power, subjective now with the only intention of winning next elections. Empty contributions as running helter-skelter only to be saved from Dasuki’s jail. Yet, the masses with heavy burden and hopeless hearts. Change!!! Everything is changing even what was good yesteryears must be changed except the same heads, who migrated from the prodigal-camp during eve of transition. Where is the role of checks and balances, which the opposition is saddled with? It is a pity that none of these parties shared true ideological politics!
During last election, the left and right looted the treasury from both directions and meet at a confluence, present economy realities. The convergence of these spending pushed the economy into disarray and emptiness, now that a thief is dealing with another thief, who will deal with the leading thief?
I urge you all not to touch the Lord’s anointed servant. I am carrying God’s anointing, ordained by God and not man, with the mission of speaking the truth always. Enough is enough, now that the country is heading towards famine and a recession greater than that experienced in 1930s, I plead with all the institutional complementarities, most especially the Churches to bail us out! I know by so doing, God will reward you mightily and heaven will rejoice with us. Above all, we will all make heaven. The Holy Bible still remains our standard. Because, I believe there is one Supreme Being called God that sees us all from above.
God bless Nigeria.
Adedara is a born-again Christian & social commentator, who writes from Sagamu.