Pentecostalism, Politics, and Development in Nigeria: Understanding Investment in Nigerian Development in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG)
Since being founded in 1952 by Josiah Akindayomi, the Redeemed Christian Church of God has quickly grown into Nigeria's most popular, richest, and most politically powerful indigenous Pentecostal church. Enoch Adeboye took over the church's leadership in 1981 following the death of Akindayomi, and is largely responsible for developing the church into the global religious movement that it is today. An understudied feature of the RCCG movement is its conceptual engagement with development in Nigeria. Over the course of the RCCG's organisational history, its investment in Nigerian development has increased commensurate to its religious worldview prioritising prosperity over holiness. Today, the RCCG invests in a range of development causes in Nigeria in order to compensate for the state's weak development institutions and in service of its development vision for Nigeria. This vision includes flagship investment provisions for higher education and healthcare. The problem this thesis investigates concerns the tensions that exist between how notions of charity and prosperity influence the RCCG's conceptual engagement with development in Nigeria. The same RCCG that builds free primary schools and provides scholarships to hundreds of poor Nigerian youth annually invests huge sums of capital into for-profit ventures and this dichotomy requires scholarly analysis. Alongside other claims, this thesis argues that the RCCG has adopted a tiered higher educational investment model and that a theological softening has unfolded that has inspired the church to brand biomedicine as religiously acceptable. This thesis begins by listing key themes and events in the history of development in Nigeria. It continues with chapters on the RCCG's Christian Social Responsibility programme and its investment in higher education and healthcare delivery. It concludes by comparing the RCCG's understanding of development with those of other leading Pentecostal movements in Nigeria and globally and by explaining what the findings of this study mean for broader discourses on third generation Pentecostalism.