This study centres on the activities of the African Pentecostal movement in Nigeria and its contribution to national development by bringing to light its perceived role in creating a better society and improved governance in the country between 1970 and 2016. The objectives of the study are to identify and critically evaluate the main socio-political and economic challenges confronting the Nigerian society, with particular emphasis on Southwestern Nigeria; assess the contributions of some Nigerian Pentecostal churches to the socio-political and economic well-being of the people of Southwestern Nigeria; examine Pentecostal churches’ motivation for participating in the delivery of social services in Southwestern Nigeria and the larger Nigerian society; and determine the challenges confronting Pentecostal churches as they undertake essential social services in addition to the spiritual activities that they are reputed for.
Data were gathered through participant observation, interview sessions and the administration of questionnaire to pastors, members and non-members of three Pentecostal Churches namely: Redeemed Christian Church of God, Deeper Life Bible Church and the Living Faith Church. The research gives primacy to sociological analysis of African Pentecostalism in Southwestern Nigeria while at the same time understands the movement as an inevitable religious development. Secondary data was sourced from both published and unpublished research materials on Pentecostalism in Africa in general and Southwestern Nigeria in particular.
The results revealed that there is positive contribution of the Pentecostal movement to the socio-political and economic lives of the people of the Southwestern Nigeria. Though not very significant, the contribution cannot be dismissed. The results also showed that Pentecostal churches partnered with the government to provide essential social services through the establishment of secondary schools and universities, the provision of social amenities like boreholes, repair of roads, rehabilitation of destitute persons, organising seminars on building a good family system, empowerment of youth and scholarship to less-privileged students in the society. The study further established that Pentecostal churches played economic roles through the provision of funds for small scale businesses, partnering with some micro-finance banks to provide loans for entrepreneurship, distribution of food items to the less-privileged in the communities, and connecting youths to gain employment in the society. Politically, the study revealed that the Pentecostals churches engage in the political system of the communities through engaging in public debates, encouraging their members to exercise their voting rights, and if led by God, seek for elective positions. These involvements of the Pentecostals informed the submission that the movement has positive impact in the lives of the people.
The study concluded that the Church, especially the Pentecostal movement, can be relied upon to partner with the government in making life better, and there can only be significant transformation in the society with the involvement of the Church exemplified by the Pentecostal movement in Nigeria.