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Financial accountability: Christian group moves to save Nigerian Church

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By Sam Eyoboka with Agency reports

CHRISTIAN Financial Accountability Association (CFAA); a self-regulatory association of churches and Christian organizations concerned about financial accountability and governance, recently held its inaugural seminar with the theme “Finance and Governance Accountability”.

CFAA Nigeria, a platform for Christian leaders and financial stakeholders to explore how churches can be structured to achieve proper governance standards, has embarked upon a series of governance activities designed to improve transparency of church administration.

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At the event, Mrs. Ibikun Awosika, Chairman First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), described the seminar as timely and valuable to churches, to avert future ethical and administrative crisis.

According to her: “The biggest model of influence in our nation is the Church, which shapes the mind of societies in many ways, hence the church needs to be pragmatic in its activities”.

Awosika argued that the Church was a pacesetter, as it was a standard bearer for congregations, meaning it can influence territories and segments of the market and economy.

She was of the opinion that churches should be structured by providing leadership portfolios and filling them up with individuals of the right character.

Awosika emphasized that the Church is a place to breed citizens that are upright and have integrity, stating they must be compliant with the rules corporate and national rules, as being Christians does not exempt them from existing national laws.

“By possessing the right structure and working right, the church will serve as a model of integrity such that when the government comes there is courage to address challenges. The nation is in troubled times as there is prevalent moral decadence. The overall essence of structure is that it allows for appropriate response,” she stated.

She added that “church leaders should be accountable through employing independent service companies to audit their church financial statements,” stressing that such professionals are present in the Church and can offer to help balance the books.

Awosika maintained that “lawyers in the Church can help the church follow due legal procedures/processes”, stressing that the CFAA once introduced can be a positive influence for national good.

Founder of Alder Consulting, Mr. Leke Alder highlighted the underlying problems that several church bodies face as it relates to government, promising that CFAA Nigeria will reposition the Church as an island of best practices.

Alder noted that the CFAA Nigeria was the commencement of a new era in the administration of churches which hope to achieve not only financial accountability, but also spiritual development.

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Also speaking at the event, Head of Tax and Regulatory, PriceWaterHouse Coopers, West Africa, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele highlighted the key areas of governance code for not-for-profits organizations and the importance of accountability as regards performance and perception.

He raised the following key issues that should be considered in the Church, which include: The importance of tax planning and compliance; Proper financial statements and record keeping for governance; Building robust internal control procedures and processes and; Inclusion of standard templates for reporting.

The event featured a Question-and-Answer session which addressed issues of Tax Identification Number, TIN, and the importance of registering with relevant tax regulatory bodies to ensure inclusion of all organizations.

Stakeholders at the inaugural CFAA Nigeria seminar were advised to contact professionals to ensure compliance with the tax laws.

Also, the issue of financial accountability was discussed and the need to separate an individual financial statements from church revenue.

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Chairman of the CFAA Nigeria inaugural seminar and Senior Pastor of Daystar Christian Centre, Rev. Samuel Adeyemi  called for the sensitization of the Church in Nigeria on the need to drive corporate governance and financial accountability.

He cited Rwanda and Angola that have regulatory processes covering governance and financial accountability for churches in their respective territories.

Vanguard

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