Pentecostal Republic

Religion and the Struggle for State Power in Nigeria

Ebenezer Obadare


The first comprehensive study of the complex and often incendiary role played by religion in contemporary Nigerian democracy.

Throughout its history, Nigeria has been plagued by religious divisions. Tensions have only intensified since the restoration of democracy in 1999, with the divide between Christian south and Muslim north playing a central role in the country’s electoral politics, as well as manifesting itself in the religious warfare waged by Boko Haram.

Through the lens of Christian–Muslim struggles for supremacy, Ebenezer Obadare charts the turbulent course of democracy in the Nigerian Fourth Republic, exploring the key role religion has played in ordering society. He argues the rise of Pentecostalism is a force focused on appropriating state power, transforming the dynamics of the country and acting to demobilize civil society, further providing a trigger for Muslim revivalism.

Covering events of recent decades to the election of Buhari, Pentecostal Republic shows that religio-political contestations have become integral to Nigeria’s democratic process, and are fundamental to understanding its future.

Author Bio

Ebenezer Obadare is Professor of Sociology at the University of Kansas and Research Fellow at the Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa. He is co-editor of the Journal of Modern African Studies. He is also the author of Humor, Silence, and Civil Society in Nigeria (2016), editor of The Handbook of Civil Society in Africa (2014), and co-editor of Civic Agency in Africa: Arts of Resistance in the 21st Century (2014).

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Pentecostal Republic, Enchanted Democracy
  • 2. 1999–2007: Pentecostalism Ascendant
  • 3. 2007–2010: A Muslim Interlude?
  • 4. 2010–2015: Pentecostalism Re-Ascendant
  • 5. Electoral Theologies
  • 6. “Kill them before they kill you”: On Violent Pentecostalism
  • 7. Conclusion


'The best work on religion in Nigeria that I have read in recent years. It will have a profound impact on African studies, religion and sociology.'
Jacob Olupona, Harvard Divinity School

‘A work that combines theoretical sophistication with an elegant analysis of a complex cultural phenomenon. Obadare is a brilliant writer whose passion, conviction, and deep knowledge of Nigeria’s political and religious terrain comes across vividly and persuasively.
Simeon O. Ilesanmi, Wake Forest University

‘An excellent and provocative analysis of political Pentecostalism in Nigeria. Written in eminently fluid prose, the book stages a new paradigm for the study of democracy and charismatic Christianity. Quite simply, brilliant.’
Nimi Wariboko, author of Nigerian Pentecostalism

‘A brilliant exposé of the central role of religion, particularly Pentecostalism, in Nigeria's political landscape. The narrative is gripping and the insights compelling. A must read for any student of religion and politics.’
Allan H. Anderson, University of Birmingham

'An authoritative work on the politics of Nigeria’s Pentecostal revolution during the country’s fourth attempt at constitutional democracy. An important text in African political studies.'
Olufemi Vaughan, Amherst College

'A must-read. Clearly argued and highly informative, there is nothing quite like it on the market given its contemporary focus. Tackling questions beyond those focused on a single religious tradition, it will find an avid scholarly readership.'
Brandon Kendhammer, Ohio University

‘An accessible yet astute analysis of the profound impact that popular forms of Christianity have on the political landscape in Nigeria. A key text for anyone with an interest in contemporary Christianity, democracy and politics in Nigeria, Africa and beyond.’
Adriaan van Klinken, University of Leeds

‘What happens when the theological meets the political in a formally secular state? In this lucid account of Pentecostalism, Obadare offers perspectives on its phenomenal rise.’
Birgit Meyer, Utrecht University


Publication Date: 15 October 2018
232 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786992376
Hardback: 9781786992383
eBook ePub: 9781786992406
eBook PDF: 9781786992390
eBook Kindle: 9781786992413

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