Osibanjo is a lawyer and more especially , he is a pastor to one of the biggest Pentecostal establishment ! The Redeem Christian Church of God (RCCG) no street in the nation that you wouldn’t see an RCCG parish tucked in one corner. With millions of adherents and billions of funds to play around with , a word of endorsement from the General Overseers had magical effect and the G.O allegedly used this on Osibanjo! Jonathan ,the former president also sought the counsel and blessing of Pentecostalism! This is the effect of Pentecostalism in Nigeria .
Indonesia ( not Saudi Arabia) is the largest Muslim nation on Earth same way Brazil (not Italy) is/was (I don’t know about now) the largest Catholic nation on Earth before the wave of Pentecostalism swept in. I don’t think a lot of folks know about this?
President Lula Da Silva, the 35th president of Brazil, did the unthinkable in the 2002 presidential elections by openly courting the Pentecostals and Evangelicals for votes. Why was that? Because Pentecostals more especially and Evangelicals have grown in numerical strength that no right thinking politician in Brazil could afford to ignore them anyone. In essence, they Pentecostals have become a force to be reckoned with in Brazilian politics.
In Chile, President Michelle Bachelet, in office from March 2006 to March 2010 , while responding to the concerns of Pentecostal and other Protestants, established a new religious office to carter to the country’s diverse religious groups. Reason? Because Pentecostals and protestants have become a significant minority that they now feature prominently in Chilean Politics.
The same scenario as in Brazil and Chile are also playing out in other Latin America countries which traditionally were Catholic strongholds. (Read the Pew Report on the growth of Pentecostalism in Latin America then you will understand better).
Back here in Nigeria, Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari both visited the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) soliciting for votes in the run up to the 2015 presidential elections. Why? When you get to know that RCCG has some 5000 branches in Lagos alone as I read, then you will appreciate why they visited.
We saw how there was a bit dichotomy in Anambra where the Catholics and Anglicans were divided on how the government and who would be governor . This is the influence of followersship, Anambra been more of Orthodox Christians (Catholics and Anglicans with few Methodist and less Pentecostal unlike Imo)
In the South East state of Imo, Governor Rochas Okorocha visited the Lord’s Chosen Camp In Mgbidi Orlu ostensibly to canvas for vote for his re-election bid in 2015. Chosen commands huge following amongst Igbo people.
According to the CIA World Factbook, these are Nigeria’s major ethnic groups: Hausa and the Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%.
Aside The Hausa and Fulani and Kanuri who are overwhelmingly Muslims and the Igbo who have a higher percentage of Catholics, Protestantism and Pentecostalism predominates among the Yoruba Christians, Ijaw, Ibibio and Tiv
Nobody is a push over anymore, not even the Pentecostals and Protestants. Aspiring politicians take note!
Bring this back to the “old” Eastern region,
If votes are to be decided by Christian votes alone, I pity that candidate whom Pentecostals and Protestant team up to vote against.
When galvanized into a strong voting block, the Pentecostal and Protestant have a decisive say who occupies any office in Nigeria even in the South East where Catholics predominate. One thing about the Pentecostal is that unlike the Anglican that has Canterbury to answer or look up to so is the catholic and Vatican , the Pentecostal doesn’t need to look that far for guidance and influence but within ! Decisions are made fast and this is one thing that helped them. Smart Alecs and politicians always court them ! But Nigeria been a secular nation ,it would be a difficult one but it is still done covertly! This is the power of denomination on the southern Nigeria , a more Christian zone unlike the North that is predominantly Muslim and the divide between Sunnis and Shiite Muslim is glaring , South has been able to manage the political dichotomy.
Okere Chidiebere and Anthony Nwosu