​For those condemning church growth over the slow growth of industries in Nigeria | © Fola Daniel Adelesi

I just saw another post this morning about how many churches or religious houses we are ‘putting up’ versus the industries we are building. For me, it has become annoying, not because it’s about the church but because the argument is not tackling the issue and just passing the buck from the government to the church.

I have seen this line of thoughts and arguments severally and I make bold to say it is weak, shallow minded and least of all, condescending for any intellectual to advance as a good reason to come against the church or even mosque. 

The claim that the church is free of tax is also a lie. The argument on taxation is that the people who donate to the church have already been taxed. If your taxes are removed even before you get your salary and you send a portion of the rest to the church, why should that portion be taxed again? So there’s a standing argument on double taxation. 

Regarding the spread of churches versus the building of industries, I dare say we are neglecting or refusing to see a failure of government and expect people called into ministry to take over the responsibility of the government. The world index on the ease of doing business in Nigeria is not encouraging. We are poorly rated so if we don’t start any church in the next 30 years and put all of that money into building businesses, I make bold to say there will be very insignificant progress! Why do I have this bold assertion? How many of these ‘Prosperous churches’ run on government funded infrastructure? How many of them have power supply from the government? We killed too many businesses and still blame churches for rising instead of industries springing up.

I have an acquaintance who spends nearly two hundred thousand (200,000) naira to buy diesel so that she can run an office every month. There are too many people out there who can’t afford to spend close to a hundred thousand to register a business because that’s the capital they need. When you eventually set up with no government support, local government will come, state government will come and FIRS is after you on behalf of Federal Government. 

Foreign investors have come into this country and they can’t move their money after making profit. A case in sight is that of MTN Niberia and some foreign airlines. The government made a big mistake in how it went about dealing with MTN on the fine issues. This is not about MTN but the many others industries that will change their minds about coming to Nigeria.

Someone is not seeing that these multinationals are afraid or skeptical which is why most of their Nigerian staff are either commissioned, outsourced or temporary staff. From banking to oil and gas and the telecoms industry, that’s the trend. What has the spread of church got to do with this? Are you getting the point?

Have we forgotten how many people these churches are even employing? I know of some of these churches that employ over 6 to 7 thousand pastors. Some employ more. Think of the multiplier effects and how many families are being fed. When these churches are constructing, the economy benefits because it is Nigerians, even if they are members of that church, that supply the materials. The monthly activities of some of these churches contribute billions of naira to the food, transport and oil sectors.

To the people who condemn how many religious organisations dot our streets over the needed industries, do you think we have run out of spaces? What’s with people saying we have too many churches versus industries? Even when the churches went to the bush, the indutries like banks, construction and food went with them. Technology followed because the people have to communicate.

In a clip I watched recently, a leader of one of the churches disclosed that they were spending 100 million on feeding per day for a 7 day programme. That’s 700 million to the food industry in one week. Now the attendance at that yearly meeting has more than doubled. How much do you think they’d be spending now? Can it be less than a billion on food in one week? And there are a number of them spending close to that on a regular basis.

Our arguments are weak because it’s not the churches that are taking the place of the industries. In fact, millions have their businesses hinged on the existence of those churches. How can we be blind to the millions of jobs that churches create directly or indirectly?

The government is simply not enabling businesses! I still can’t overcome that surprise about people condeming the rise of religious houses and saying industries are not coming up. Please answer these questions:

1. Was the cement used in building the church manufactured within the church? 

2. Did the church create their own block industry?

3. Was it the church that manufactured the wood needed during construction?

4. Can the pastors’ anointing create roofing sheets?

5. Was it the Holy Spirit that supplied the aluminium materials and also fixed it?

We all know the answers to these questions. Some people from various industries brought these materials. So the church, and other religious bodies, greatly contribute to the economy of this nation. 

Is it the church that sent airlines out of Nigeria? Is it the church that sent foreign development banks out of Nigeria? Did the church send foreign direct investments to Neighbouring Ghana? Let’s do a realignment and face those we should face.

Again, let’s stop building churches in just 1 year and see how many businesses will die. The churches, in my opinion, so long as they are not misleading people and are well set up should keep springing up. They are employing people and helping businesses. Let’s get it right with our industries and leave the church out of this narrative of collosal failure.

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