Tax Churches and Other Controversial Ideas To Rescue Our Economy #ofilispeaks

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Nigeria’s Economy is struggling, largely due to her over-dependence on the falling Oil that has seen our Naira plummet to record lows against the dollar. So low that even our neighbors in Benin Republic are running away from the Naira.

And the Government’s reaction to this Economic quagmire? FOREX restrictions to defend the Naira.

By doing this, the Government hopes to force Nigerians away from importing basic necessities with FOREX and instead push them to manufacture in Nigeria with the Naira.

The Government also plans to stimulate the Economy by spending large amounts of money (mostly borrowed or via taxes like stamp duties) on infrastructural developments including Power, Roads and Railways which would lead to a reduction of production cost for Nigerians manufacturing in Nigeria.

These ideas are brilliant on paper, but to me they are not enough.

The Government also has to get Nigerians to spend more money, because Government spending alone cannot stimulate the Economy. So to help the Government even though they did not ask for it, I decided to share 4 controversial ideas the Government can implement to get Nigerians to spend more money and stimulate our Economy.

WARNING: They are controversial …

#1 Arrest Landlords


I have written about this several times and I will reiterate it again:

Imagine what we could do as a country if Nigerian’s could make monthly rent payments to Landlords?

Do you know how much money will be freed up in our Economy? Do you know how many people would be able to afford cars and homes? Do you know how the middle class will grow, since more people have more money to spend? Do you know how many more jobs will be generated from people having more money to invest in their business ideas? Do you know how much easier life would be for a family that has to find money for a month, versus an entire year!

Because we would basically have 11-months of free money that we would gain when Nigerian’s can make payments monthly. Simple concept … but let illustrate it even better, imagine how you will feel if you had 11 months rent in your pocket right now!

But this idea is nothing new, Lagos state via its Tenancy Law makes it illegal for a Landlord to collect more than 3 month’s advance rent. But you and I know that that is not happening and will not happen until Landlord’s Start Getting Arrested!

So my idea here is simply this, arrest Landlords violating this rule in Lagos. Then make it the law across Nigeria because 2 year advance rent collection is stagnating our Economy. This is because money that could be used to stimulate the economy is being held hostage by a few landlords who in so doing, grind our economy to a halt. Arrest Landlords!

#2 Release Pensions Earlier

oilseed-rape-383279_960_720“Billions” … I take that back more like “Trillions of Trillions” of Nigeria’s money are tied up in Pension funds doing absolutely nothing but making pension fund banks richer.

The average Nigerian will not see that money till they are 60, and with a life expectancy rate of about 52.11 years (according to the World Bank). Most Nigerians would be dead before then, and even if they are alive, their money would have died from inflation!

Let me illustrate the last point, imagine, if you were 50 years old in 2006. Back then your Naira was valued at N128 to the $. Now imagine you were to retire today in 2016, your money will now be worth N280 N290 N305 N300 to the $! It would have lost about 100% of its value. But this is where it gets even crazier, imagine that you started working when you were 30 which is in 1986, then the Naira would be valued at N2.00!

It does not take a brain surgeon with a dual Mathematics degree to figure out that your Pension money is totally useless in a country with double digit high inflation. Its like putting money in jail with back to back life sentences!

And I know the Pension Banks invest the money, but their investments are so conservative that it rarely consistently beats the high Nigerian inflation rate 10% as at December 2015.

So my radical idea is simply this, allow the money do something. Let pensioners have staggered access to their money. They should be able to access their funds at anytime … but with a minimal cost. That cost could be taxes or other penalties for early withdrawal, just like the American 401K. What this accomplishes are two things.

Firstly it brings NEW money into the Nigerian market, “trillions” that could be used to start businesses or industries that would leverage on the Governments newly built infrastructures. Secondly the early withdrawal fees generates additional revenue for the Government while serving as a deterrent to minimize excess withdrawals. At the end of the day, its a win-win situation.

But with the status quo, pension money is sitting down doing effectively nothing but losing value! Its an absolute waste as long as Nigeria’s inflation remains so high … release the pensions earlier.

#3 Tax Churches

italy-1014258_960_720Yes I said it o.

Don’t crucify me but Nigeria needs to Tax her churches to get more money in circulation … here’s why and how.

Churches like mosquitoes are in every corner of Nigeria, they are abundantly plentiful. And they are big big businesses! And thus should be treated as such, their accounts should be made transparent and public just like any other business out there. But more importantly they should be taxed.

If the Federal Government taxes churches and other religious bodies, the income the Government would generate would be so large that we would not even need to borrow money (up to 1.89 trillion) to fund our budget!

But that figure I stated above cannot be verified, because Church accounts are mostly hidden in Nigeria. Which brings me back to the first point, Churches should declare their accounts, for an organization that makes such large amounts of money, it seems financially illogical not to be able to see their books. Moreover, it aids corruption, large amounts of questionable donations made by crooks cannot be tracked. Why? You could literally create a church and channel stolen money into it and no one will ask any questions!

Alternatively, churches should be required to carry out a certain number of capital/infrastructural projects as a way to be exempted from taxes but with an emphasis on non-profit. Because the ongoing for-profit church university trends does not count and does not help! By doing so, we ensure that the money given to the churches spreads to the community and doesn’t reside in the pockets of a few.

But whatever we do, we cannot ignore the money from Churches.

#4 Copy Kenya


After the 2013 Kenya versus Nigeria twitter war, the last thing any Nigerian will want to hear is that we should copy Kenya. But we need to … here’s why…

Kenya has MPESA, Nigeria has a hot-MESSA!

But what exactly is MPESA? Mpesa was created when UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), noticed that Kenyans were transferring mobile airtime as a proxy for money. So they teamed up with Vodafone (think MTN or Etisalat) to create M-PESA a mobile banking platform that allows Kenyans transfer money via SMS.

And the result has been nothing short of astonishing. With over 43% of Kenyans GDP in 2013 routed through M-PESA!

So how will M-PESA help Nigeria? Simply put it will allow for a faster flow of money within our Economy and small businesses that cannot afford the very expensive Inter-switch licences or scarce POS machines will be able to accept mobile payments via their phones thus stimulating the birth of more small businesses.

So where exactly is Nigeria’s M-PESA?

To be honest,  several companies in Nigeria have tried to replicate Kenya’s M-PESA, the closest we got to getting M-PESA was MTN Mobile money. But that got scrapped when the Nigerian Federal Government realized that having a foreign company (MTN is South African owned) controlling a majority of Nigeria’s currency was a bad idea. So CBN created an interesting rule that …

“excludes telecom operators from providing mobile payments services, limiting their role to merely the provision of the channel (infrastructure) through which other providers’ services can be offered.” source

And this singular rule, has led to the creation of a multitude of non-effective mobile money channels in Nigeria. We have First Monie, Paga, Pokcet Moni, Zenith EazyMoney, pay attitude and the list goes on and on. But sadly none of them have caught on, none of them have become truly become universal. Because unlike Kenya’s M-pesa which is driven by the telecommunications companies, ours are not.

Nigeria is in dire need of its own M-PESA. If the Government can do this in 2016 it will be a huge Economic stimulus that would aid the flow of money within Nigeria. But we need to start by reversing the CBN exclusion of Telecom Operators from mobile money, only then are we going to get our own Kenya M-PESA! Copy Kenya.


Tax Churches, Scrap Pensions, Arrest Landlords!

Quite radical ideas on the surface, but if you look beyond the outlandish titles and focus on the core Economic principles in the ideas above then you will see strategic ways the Government can grow the Economy. For now the Government’s approach has been almost Military like STOP FOREX and TAX the CITIZENS. The END. We need more creativity, more nuances if our Economy is to survive in 2016.

twitterWritten by Okechukwu Ofili of
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Author: Ofili

Words by Okechukwu Ofili of
Follow him on Twitter
Stalk him on Instagram
Read his crazy titled books on konga or okadabooks
Feed his children at…no wait he has no kids…. 

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9 comments on “Tax Churches and Other Controversial Ideas To Rescue Our Economy #ofilispeaks

  1. Habeeb Onawole on said:

    There’s a reason why the landlord ish won’t work. A large amount of infrastructure that should be provided by the government are provided by landlords. Electric poles, connection fees from the poles, water, drainage systems and even the so called prepaid meters that are said to be free are paid for. So imagine if you were a landlord that has just spent close to 20 million naira to build a residential apartment with four 4-bedroom flats and someone wants to start paying you monthly, wouldn’t you tell the person to go back to his village?

    You see the annoying thing is that the government is trying to get money from the citizens to fund their selfish budget aimed solely at satisfying their high taste. When the country was making so much from crude oil things were hard for the average Nigerian citizen. Now that crude oil is next to worthless, you still want to collect the little the masses have to find your own selfish long throat desires.

    I leave you with the words of Selina Kyle from The Dark Knight Rises: “There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.”

  2. Great controversial ideas you have here bro. These are ideas the Nigerian government can implement in order to savage the crumbling economy.

    However, as you said “the government also has to get Nigerians to spend more money, because Government spending alone cannot stimulate the Economy”, the controversial ideas are also dependent on people’s (Nigerians) response. We can only speculate that Nigerians will respond positively (both in the short-run and long-run) if the ideas are implemented.

    People will spend more if they have what to spend, if they really trust the government and if they have a better understanding of the economy.

    All the same. Great ideas bro. I think we should all be economist who understand the times and seasons.
    Adesoji latest post is New African Agricultural Innovation CenterMy Profile

  3. The real problem with the mobile money operations is that it’s targeting people with bank accounts. Going by BVN registrations, that’s about one tenth of the populace.

    With a much lower percentage of Internet penetration, bank account holders using Internet banking or their mobile apps are a minority.

    Yes, we have First Monie, Paga, Pokcet Moni, Zenith EazyMoney, pay attitude and the likes, its serving a duplicate function same as the more reliable Internet banking. Nigerians have trust issues too, so why would I have to move money into a separate wallet (where the money sef dey).

    What could work is a all round implementation of the USSD recharge and money transfer, so anyone with a Nokia torch light phone can send money and make payments for services.

    How that’s gonna work, I’m still thinking about it.

    • Ofili

      I 100% agree with you!

      It’s quite exciting to see people like you that get it. Not enough of us are getting it. I sat in the offices of almost all the companies above in the capacity of my role in to tell them that their mobile payment solutions will not work until it bypasses the banks and goes straight to the phones.

  4. Nice piece bro, I had to read again. How I wish the policy makers up there can access this. My issue is those managing the purse into which all this tax will be made to. I am yet to see commitment and strong will to serve by the ‘ogas at the top’ who claim to be serving us. Imagine the Senate still fighting over buying brand new SUVs to be imported for official duties backing it up with the claim that they can always afford it personally and even do more but need one for official duties. we now have a plant in Nigeria, May be they havent started production yet. And the man who got a transfer of 1000naira will have to part with 50naira.
    Tax churches, arrest landlord shouldn’t be the next idea until we are able to wash our red and green chambers, the mansions behind the rock and other arms, clean before we can think of alternative sources. I have my reservations too *smiles.
    I got an alert of 250naira deducted from my account last month for stamp duties and can’t remember getting more than two transfers last month. I hope the banks are not also taking cut for helping the cbn collect our money.
    God bless Nigeria

  5. I really like this post Ofili amd I support! These landlords also don’t know that it is to their advantage to collect monthly rents. That way, they don’t get saddled with trucculent tenants. But noooo, greed no go gree.

    Don’t even get me started on the pension issue. I worked in a govt ministry and I had money taken out of monthly pay in the name of pension. I’m 31 and I have a longgg time to wait for that money and that’s if I can get it at all!

    Oh and for the churches. Now that’s big business. In a street I used to live in Calabar, there were churches in every corner. They had service every bloody day and the monthly Fridays vigils were a nightmare. Oh and they also had a monthly church “harvests” where the pastors got all kinds of stuff from their sheep.. Why the heck are we so damn gullible? I had an argument with someone who made the mistake of saying that the pastors with private jets had a legitimate reason to do so because their “flock” are scattered all the globe and they need to be able to reach them at short notice. What the f**k? You see why we have problems in this country?

    Anyway if these “annointed” folks can afford to cruise around in their private toys, they should bloody well pay tax.

    You know why people like you won’t get the chance to rule this our country? Because you make too much sense.

    Anyway sorry about my longgg diatribe on your page. I like your post! Well done Ofili

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