How Pastors Contribute to Nigeria’s Bad Economy

by Uche Onegeria 23 Jan , 2017  

“Aren’t churches supposed to be nonprofits?”

I was chatting with one of my oyibo colleagues one day, venting on how things could be so much better in Nigeria. When I mentioned that our pastors are benefiting from people’s misery by using funds from their members and living quite the lavish lifestyle of private jets, mansions, exotic cars, and trips overseas, she asked me a question,

“Aren’t churches supposed to be nonprofits?”


This bugged my mind for the whole day (if not till date) and I wonder if some of us know what it means to run a nonprofit organization. Do we know why churches are allowed by the government to not pay taxes? No! Most of us do not know.

So let me tell you why the government permits churches to operate tax-free?
Churches are exempt by the government from paying taxes because churches perform some community duties which relieve the government. If our churches use their funds to organize volunteers to sweep the streets, help manage the mentally ill in the society, help protect women who are fleeing abusive men, help rehabilitate rape victims, organize various kids’ activities etc. then the government exempts them from paying taxes because they contribute to society’s growth. The government allows this so a few things in the community are taken care of by these powerful religious institutions while they can focus on other issues in the community which needs their direct attention.

Larry Busacca / Getty Images

However, this giant economic gap exists in Nigeria because church members contribute money to churches but it remains in the hands of 1 man. This is the major reason why everything around us is falling apart. We are already suffering because we do our own part but the pastors don’t do theirs.

In developed countries overseas, nonprofits take care of:

  1. The homeless people in the society.
  2. The mentally challenged.
  3. Sponsoring/Funding Students’ education or business ideas.
  4. Empowering women.
  5. Sheltering women who are abused by their husbands.
  6. Helping the alcoholics and drug addicts.
  7. Helping job seekers find employment.
  8. Supporting their environment (or some parts of the world) when they are affected by issues like natural disasters, flood etc.
  9. Helping fund research for many diseases like cancer, diabetes, Ebola etc.
  10. Helping feed the hungry in the society eg. Soup kitchens

Here is one of the best replies I got when I asked the question, “Who do Pastors pay tithes to?” on Facebook. Chikezie U. Eric‘s reply with the scripture itself is profound and I bless his darling heart for sharing this.

“While reading through the scripture one day, I came across rules and regulations concerning tithe in Deuteronomy , I was shocked because I never knew that the issue of tithe was talked about anywhere else except in Malachi 3:8”

“Now, when you take a look at Deuteronomy 14. When God was giving the children of Israelite rules and regulations, God explained the concept or reason for tithe to them and gave them rules to abide in regards to it, from verse 22 downwards explains it so well.”

“Then you also go to Deuteronomy 26:12 downwards, the same rule was also repeated, and I am very sure that the reason why God said that we should bring our tithes and offering in Malachi 3: 10 was for the actualization of his rules and regulation in Deuteronomy, which is feeding the Levites, poor, widows and the needy in the society.”

“So, now I ask, why do pastors prefer Malachi even to the extent of twisting it to favour their aims instead of giving their church members the full concept, rules and regulations regarding tithing which the Lord commanded in Deuteronomy?”


 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in … (Matthew 25:35 ~ NIV)


  1. Hi Uche,
    Great post. Something I believe every Nigerian should see. Churches are supposed to be nonprofits but they’re currently the most lucrative start-ups in Nigeria.
    This mind shift we so desperately need must happen. We must win.
    I’m following your blog now. I’ll share this.

    • Thanks Samuel. You truly put it nicely there. It’s sad that a place of worship has become a place for the most lucrative start-ups. Thanks for sharing and following. I think I should start writing again. It’s been a while.

      Thanks again :).

  2. I have always seen this. I have never been satisfied at any churchbservice as they do not make any meanings. I have left the church for a long time now. Just doing my research though on evolution and creation. I am a geologist too like you and hope you will be able to contribute to that aspect of my research too.

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