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VC condemns high fees in church-owned universities

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…Advocates creating scholarships for church members.

Cyril Mbah, Abuja

Religious leaders and organisations that establish schools, especially universities and other tertiary institutions, with tithes paid by members and make school fees out-of-reach for members have been called upon to do a rethink by questioning themselves on whether their policies are promoting or going against the gospel.

The Vice Chancellor, Freedom International University and Theological Seminary, Archbishop [Professor] Edwin N. Ozuzu, who made these remarks, in Abuja stated that church leaders have the moral responsibility to make their educational institutions affordable for children of members who pay tithes for the construction of such institutions.

His words: “It is not only religiously wrong but morally reprehensible to establish schools, whether universities or lower institutions, with tithes paid by members and children of such members are denied the opportunity of schooling in the institutions due to high fees.”

Archbishop [Professor] Edwin N. Ozuzu wondered, in an interview soon after the 15th Graduation ceremony and 2021 Honourary Degree Awards to distinguished Nigerians held in Abuja recently, what religious bodies are turning into today and he regretted that profit and materialism has beclouded the minds of some pastors and prophets.

He remarked that many pastors and prophets have deviated from the original calling of saving souls and are profiteering by establishing businesses that their members, who are levied for the projects, cannot afford.

Professor Ozuzu said to solve the problems created by such situations; churches should create scholarships exclusively for members’ children and ensure that qualified students among them get the opportunity to study.

On the agitation within the circles of the present administration that profits made by religious bodies that engage in profitable ventures should be subjected to annual taxation, Professor Ozuzu disagreed with the campaigners describing the plan as exploitative.

He stated that throughout the world, religious organisations enjoy tax exemptions because they are classified as non-profits regardless of the type of income generating ventures they operate.

“It is wrong for any well-meaning person to think about taxing religious bodies whether it is a Christian or Muslim organisation. Many of these institutions invest on schools, hospitals or orphanages.

“There is no way we can make huge amounts of money from such ventures which are meant to uplift the lives of members of the communities where the religious bodies operate,” he argued.

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