As we desperately seek to replace the $30bn or so we used to get from crude oil exports, nothing should be off limits. It cannot be business as usual, so we need to be prepared to think the unthinkable. Our main challenge in this post-coronavirus era is to raise capital for investment in infrastructure, job creation and social services like education and health
 Do you know that 80,000 Nigerians go on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina every year?
 Do you know that 30,000 Nigerians go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Rome every year?
 Now, this is a total of 110,000 people. Our government subsidises these pilgrimages and the total cost adds up to about $280m a year. This is about 1% of our annual budget
 I once remember speaking to Malasysia’s minister of primary commodities Dr Lim Yiak about the palm oil and rubber industries in and asking him whether his government will be susbsidising them to compete with the European Union. His response to me was: “Malaysia does not subsidise its farmers, it taxes its farmers.”
 We all want our economy to grow like that of Malaysia but alas, are we ready to take them same medicine they did? None of this growth they enjoyed was automatic. Malaysia’s people had to pay a price for it, so if Nigeria wants economic growth, we must be ready to swallow the harsh medicine the doctor prescribed too
 If we levy a Pilgrimage Tax of $200 on every Nigerian pilgrim, it will generate about $22m in revenue for the government. Now, add that to the $280m we are spending on pilgrimage subsidies and we have over $300m in the kitty
 I am sure every genuine Nigerian Muslim wants to see the almajiri problem resolved. Paying $200 towards solving the problem is a very small price to pay and I doubt if any man or woman of goodwill will oppose it
 Nigerian Christians pride themselves on the fact that it was missionary societies who established many of the early primary and secondary schools in Nigeria. Well, it is their time now. I am sure every Nigerian Christian would be proud of the fact that they contributed towards eliminating the almajiri problem in the country by funding the building of schools for them, just as the pioneer missionaries did
 With Nigeria’s total 2020 education budget pegged at only $1.72bn before this crisis hit, we simply lacked the resources to fund the almajiri problem. In this post-coronavirus environment, the government has probably halved the education budget anyway, so we desperately need new sources of funding. I would like to believe that 95% of Nigerians would support the introduction of a pilgrimage tax for the greater good.