The name Nathaniel Bassey is one that many Nigerians, especially those in tune with gospel music are well acquainted with. The Nigerian gospel musician who’s appeared on a segment of BBC Africa has had hit songs like Imela and recently Onise iyanu on his new album This God is Too Good.
Bassey has taken worshipping a notch higher, this time on social media.Bassey started a midnight praise challenge tittled “The One-Hour Midnight Hallelujah Challenge’’ and it has gone viral with over 50, 000 virtual worshippers via his Instagram page.
On May 31, he shared his desire to host a multi-denominational one-hour praise and worship live session from June 1 to June 30. “This Hallelujah Challenge is inspired by the biblical story of Paul and Silas who got freedom from prison after they engaged in praise and worship to God,” he said. The hashtags #hallelujahchallenge and #Olowogbogboro are trending on Twitter with over 9,000 tweets.
Yesterday (Thursday) over 62,000 followers were live on Instagram and many more on Facebook. The result of this challenge has been testimonies by many Christian faithfuls who’d hooked up on the praise session. Testimonies range from finding a spouse to the recent arrest of a notorious Nigerian kidnapper named Evans, a snake falling from the ceiling, deliverance from masturbation.
The testimonies have been captioned in Bassey’s Instagram page with the expression “And God did it just like that!” Celebrities such as Don Jazzy, Adesua Etomi, Dbanj, Uche Jumbo, Rita Dominic, Chioma Akpotha, Funke Akindele-Bello, Omoni Oboli, Tiwa savage and K-Cee have engaged in the comment section during the live session and shared the #hallelujahchallenge on their Instagram pages.
At a time when economic recession has hit the country and corruption is still rife despite efforts by the Muhammadu Buhari led government to fight against it, there have been criticisms against the #hallelujahchallenge.
Religion is a sensitive issue in Nigeria, but that has not stopped voices like that of Joy Isi Bewaji, the Managing Director of Happenings Radio to take a shot at what she calls “a cute online revival” that “will change nothing.” In a Facebook post she said, “Things are moving well in your life and a miracle occurred in your life and you finally got an answer to something that had been bugging you in your life because you prayed. But your prayer doesn’t have the depth or promise to change the problem called Nigeria. Your little success is beautiful. But what does it matter when every part of the country you call home is a wreck.”
The #hallelujahchallenge is no different from the many prosperity preachings that the country has been serenaded with since the 80s. The state of the country especially for million wallowing in poverty has hardly changed. The absence of the President Buhari from office seems not to be the major topic of discussion. Buhari had gone on medical tourism early on in the year where he spent over a month in a U.K. hospital, which raised fears of whether he was dead or alive. In less than a month, he left again and handed over to the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo. Nigerians are yet to hear from their absent president in months.
In a seeming surprising tweet from Prof Osinbajo who is a pastor with the Redeememd Christian Church of God (R.C.C.G) he said “no matter how much you pray and fast, our country cannot grow without some of us deciding to do the hard work that makes nations grow.”
No matter how much you pray and fast, our country cannot grow without some of us deciding to do the hard work that makes nations work.
— Prof Yemi Osinbajo (@ProfOsinbajo) May 24, 2017
This statement, made on 24 May 2017 before the #hallelujahchallenge in a way corroborates what Bewaji further said in her post, “God, however, wants you to get your knees up and go challenge your Local government for a start. He wants you to write a petition and follow through in regard to Queens’ College. Or choose any 100,000 ways to fix your country.”
Personal prosperity is what many Nigerians seek regardless of how national infrastructure or the general state of the country is. Religion in the country has thrived on sowing of seeds, large church offerings and churches sprouting at every corner. More churches than hospitals and libraries exist in the country, and some proceeds of corruption find their way as tithe into many of these churches. For the most populous country in Africa, the salvation of its souls needs more fixing than salvaging the pieces of its ravaged country.