OVER half a million persons last Friday besieged the Tafawa Balewa Square in Central Lagos for what turned out to be an experience of their life. The occasion was the fifth edition of a musical extravaganza aptly tagged The Experience where thousands of Christian faithful gathered to offer quality worship and praise to their Maker, The Almighty God..
As early as 6.00 p.m., the entire space inside the Tafawa Balawa Square had been occupied except for the reserved seats while official ushers and other security operatives did a yeoman job directing participants to the adjoining overflows.
Lagos State Traffic Management authority (LASTMA), Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, operatives were very visible all over the arena maintaining order outside the arena as participants struggled to get parking space in the already jammed arena.
Armed anti_riot policemen and other security operatives were fully on alert to forestall any breach of the peace before, during and immediately after the event.
The strength of the music was such that several participants feared that the very foundations of the TBS may collapse before the end of the occasion as a result of the shaking and vibrations of the equipment as well as the often thunderous shouts of the ‘Praise The Lord’ and the accompanying response of ‘Halleluiah.’
The atmosphere became charged when the Governor of Lagos, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, picked the microphone to address the crowd, urging them to take advantage of the mixed congregation to work in unity as the nation approaches another election year. He charged the worshippers to register during the forthcoming voters registration exercise and make sure that they participate in the entire process of electioneering and make it a success to the shame of those who think that nothing good could come out of Nigeria.
In his own contribution which was streamed in a multimedia format and watched on the numerous giant screens across the arena and the overflows, President Goodluck Jonathan, acknowledge what the grace of God has done in his own life, Dr. Jonathan admonished the mammoth crowd of worshippers to fear God.
There were moments when several eminent spiritual leaders including the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, past CAN vice president, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Pastor Sam Adeyemi and several others took turn to offer prayers for the electricity sector, infrastructural development, the Niger Delta, kidnapping in the East, unity in the Church, unity and peaceful polls next year.
The theme for this year’s event was Heaven on Earth. The convener of the concert, Pastor Paul Adefarasin of ‘House on The Rock’ church described The Experience as; “a fusion of more than half a million voices, uplifted hands and eager hearts offering up a sacrifice of praise and prayer to our Father in heaven. Here, impossibilities become possible as believers from all walks of life, tribe, tongue, denomination and indeed faith/creed, amalgamate in concerted worship of the God of all flesh”; he announced.
The artistes wowed the crowd with songs, many of which were well known to the crowd. The Nigerian representatives did a good job. So also did Don Moen, Ron Kenoly and Judith Jacobs who took the audience through a wholesome worship experience. Chevelle Franklin, the former secular artiste gave an impressive performance.
It was an awesome moment as the Jamaican performed the Nigerian national anthem together with different Nigeria songs in Yoruba and Igbo language. Her performance was supported by very talented Emmanuelle- a Nigerian based outside the country.
Phil Driscol was another great fellow that many people expected to watch and he did not disappoint. His worship drew many people to reconciliation with their maker.
The event which was the fifth in the series and apparently the biggest since it started about five years ago attracted renowned gospel artistes who graced the occasion included Fred Hammond, Don Moen, Bishop Tudor Bizmark, Ron Kenoly, Mary Mary, Judy Jacobs, Erica Campbell, Panam Percy Paul, Sammie Okposo, Mike Aremu, and many others.