Nigeria- Monday April 26, 2021: The National Association of Catholic Theology Students (NACATHS), Dominican Institute, Ibadan, on Friday 23rd of April 2021held its 3rd Academic Symposium for the 2020/2021 academic session.
The symposium which was held at Tom and Carolyn Walker Hall, Dominican University, Samonda, Ibadan, was themed: “Financing the Church’s Mission: Evolving New Strategies and Frameworks” delivered by the keynote Speaker, Henry Okolo, from the Catholic Diocese of Awgu, Enugu State.
Okolo while speaking on the theme “Financing the Church’s Mission: Evolving New Strategies and Frameworks”, emphasized on the need to increase Church’s earning in order to keep the mission going.
Okolo noted that financing Church’s mission activities for effective and efficient performance is a fundamental task for any Church organisation wishing to attain its goal.
He stressed that Church in Nigeria needs financing for training the faithful in the basic way of the gospel (pursuit of divine worship) and in other to adequately involve itself in constructive dialogue with government and other religious groups (Apostolic works).
He however stated that the problem with church Missions work is not finance as people are not tired of giving.
“The problem with Missions in Nigeria is not necessarily finance. The people are not necessarily tired of giving. The problem for me is the sort of departure from the ideals of the mission.
“We have the case of poor records of accountability. It seems leaders in our local churches are far from being accountable. There’s no record of transparency. There’s also misappropriation and mismanagement,” he said.
In an interview with CEOAFRICA, Okolo who discussed how the church can partner with the government to boast the economy said “partnership with the State; there’s what we call the Church-State relationship. Church is not an economic institution as such, but she can call the attention to what can be done.
“The church can suggest things, because if an economy does not support the poor, then the Church definitely has to take a position for the poor. We have to stand by them”
On call by some stakeholders asking the church to be paying tax, he said “the church has done so much, asking them to pay tax is actually been insensitive and inhumane.
The church has done so many works the government should do. So what will be the rationale in asking them to pay tax?
The bulk of the best schools we have in this town are managed by the church.
So on what grounds are you coming? Some people are actually doing your work and you’re still asking them to pay tax, on what grounds? So I think its actually a misguided attempt.
On the other hand, the Executive Director of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Prof. Veronica Obatolu, who was the guest speaker spoke on “Strategic Impact Investment in Agriculture and Agro Allied Industries: An Insight,” advised churches to invest in agriculture in order not to depend on the contributions of its members only
Obatolu noted that Agriculture being the oldest occupation of mind kind still remains the solution in financing and boasting the economy of the country.
She explained that “if the church must play the role of supporting sustainable livelihood, it is vital for her to better understand the impact of any investments in the agricultural sector.
The professor of Human Nutrition disclosed that Nigeria depends on agriculture as it employs up to 70% of the populace and accounts for almost 27% of the country’s GDP.
“In Nigeria, everyone of us depends on staple food produced from farms. This is very important, because reducing food import is crucial to Nigeria’s quest for sustainable development. “Despite the fact that we are blessed with fertile soil, we still import majority of our food from outside. More than 80% of Nigerians purchase their farm produce from the market.
Agriculture is the highest employer of labour in the country, employing up to 70% of the population and contributing up to 27 percent of the GDP. It is one single sector that has the potential to lift millions out of poverty and ensure sustainable development,” she noted.
She went on to reveal some harrowing statistics on Nigeria stressing why Agriculture is the way out.
“Nigeria has the prevalence rate of 32% of under-five stunted children. With this percentage, Nigeria is the second highest globally.
“In every 10 children, at least 3 are malnourished. This is why some of our children are not doing well in school, what you eat affects your intellect. About 7% of child-bearing women in Nigeria are malnourished.
“Without gainsaying, we need to go back to agriculture. This is the only way forward, this is the only way the country can grow. The Church also can key into this sector so that they can contribute to not only the members, but also to the economy of the country they find themselves in.”
Investing in Agriculture and agro-allied industry is essential to the church future and wellbeing of proclaiming the gospel with more justifiable economic development” Obatolu stated.
In an interview with CEOAFRICA, Obatolu while speaking on the gain that the church stand to get if they invest in Agriculture explained that the church will be able to fulfill their role in sustaining the livelihood of their members stressing that if parishioners do not have means of livelihood, it will be difficult for them to grow spiritual.
She stated that if the church wants their members to grow spiritually, there is need to provide source of income for the members.
The IAR&T Executive Director advised the church to create a forum in Agricultural sector where the members can be employed.
She further stated that churches investing in Agriculture will contribute to social, environmental welfare and food security in our society.
In another development, Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Emeka Nwosu OP, who spoke on the topic “Digital Economy and E-Commerce: Any Prospects for the Church?” backed Obatolu’s opinion but added that it is important the church implore different strategies.
He opined that the church can go digital through using the internet, the social media and smartphones
He recalled that during the church like some other religious groups used the internet as a pastoral tool to offer spiritual and pastoral care to its members and which contributed immensely to the preaching of the gospel.
He also explained that digital economy has achieved three major breakthroughs with regards to wealth generation, stating that it has abbreviated the number of years one needs to put in to become wealthy, provide greater opportunity for a greater number of people to become wealthy and made a greater number of young people in their thirties and even younger to become rich or wealthy.
Fr Nwosu note that the church can key into Cryptocurrencies and E-commerce business, study the technology and be creative about it.
The event had in attendance, Prof. Veronica Obatolu, the first female Executive Director of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) ,Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Emeka Nwosuh OP, the President of Dominican Institute of Theology, Ibadan, Henry Okolo, from the Catholic Diocese of Awgu, Enugu State, Scholars, religious leaders, students and other eminent personalities from all walks of life.