Impact Of Godfatherism On Nigerian Politics And Administration,
The concept of ‘God fathers’ has often been misconceived, while the concept has been attributed to the Trinity ‘God the father’ in Christianity. The concept of ‘God Father’ in politics connotes a different meaning. It is used to symbolise the existence of an influential human figure who plays God in determining who get what in politics as well as shaping the political direction of the state. God fathers impose themselves on the polity in attempt to swing the political pendulum in their favour. The existence of God fathers in politics has had both positive and negative consequences on the state. While some God fathers have contributed positively to the state, others have had a deleterious effect on the underdevelopment of the state. Therefore this seminar paper explores Godfatherism and its good governance in Nigeria. Conceptual clarification, review of related literature and empirical review are highlighted. Conclusion and recommendations are also put forward.
TABLE OF CONTENT
INTRODUCTION – – – – – – – – 1
CONCEPTUAL REVIEW – – – – – – – – 2
LITERATURE REVIEW – – – – – – – – 3
Godfatherism in Nigeria’s First Republic 1960-1966 – – – – 3
Godfatherism in Nigeria’s Second Republic 1979-1983 – – – – 4
Godfatherism in the Third Republic 1992-1993 – – – – – 5
Godfatherism in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic 1999-2011 – – – – 6
Godfatherism and 2015 Presidential Elections in Nigeria – – – – 7
GODFATHERISM: ITS GOOD GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA – – – 8
The Effect of Godfatherism in Nigerian Politics – – – – – 11
EMPIRICAL REVIEW – – – – – – – – 16
CONCLUSION – – – – – – – – – 19
RECOMMENDATIONS – – – – – – – – 19
Godfatherism And It Good Governance In Nigeria
Godfatherism as the word implies and simply put is man playing god to fellow man or woman depending on whichever issue trending in an effort to assist, favour or to show influential prowess of the godfather to a beneficiary. The godfather is supposed to be very influential and powerful in the society such that the mention of his name or what is referred to as, ‘ name dropping’ could win favour for the beneficiary which could be in form of contract, positions in offices, promotion, financial benefits, sponsorship, admissions, scholarships, employment, among others.
The political godfather phenomenon is not new in Nigeria. It started during the First Republic when the foremost nationalists of the country (Zik, Awo, Tafawa-Balewa, etc) influenced and controlled political activities in Nigeria. However, there are lots of differences between the ideological godfatherism of the First Republic and the crude form.
Quoting Ibrahim Jibrin Gambo (2007), Bernard traced the origin of godfatherism in electoral politics to the city of Chicago in the United States of America in the pre-world war II era, “when the heads of criminal gangs sponsored politicians in elections, manipulated the results to get them elected and, in turn, received protection and contracts from their political godsons”.
However, the advent of godfatherism in the Nigerian partisan politics dates back to the First Republic when leaders of the three main political parties [Northern People’s Congress (NPC), Action Group (AG) and National Congress of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC)] carefully and meticulously cultivated godsons that they were convinced would advance the well being of the citizens. According to Gambo, Sir Ahmadu Bello of the NPC, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe of the NCNC and Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the AG were motivated to do so and not to use godsons as surrogates to promote parochial interests, but to promote the developmental aspirations of the people.
Unlike the present crop of political godfathers, the first generation godfathers were essentially benevolent and progressive because they did not abuse their status as godfathers by imposing frivolous demands on their godsons as it is the case today. They served as a huge reservoir of wisdom and experience to be consulted on the business of governance. Indeed, in a relative sense, the first republic political godfathers were drawn by community sense of interest in seeking to influence the electorates to vote for some candidates of their choice. It was enough satisfaction for them that they wielded tremendous influence in the society and this inevitably generated a groundswell of goodwill and reverence for them, as their views on political issues were scarcely contested in their respective regions of the country.
Godfatherism, in its simple form is a term used to describe the relationship between a godfather and godson. The concept of godfatherism is synonymous to intermediary, mentoring, benevolence, and support and sponsoring. In a political setting, the concept is an ideology that is championed on the belief that certain individuals possess considerable means to unilaterally determine who get a party’s ticket to run for an election and who wins in the electoral contest (Chukwuemaka, Oji, & Chukwurah, 2013). Godfathers are men who have the “power” and influence to decide both who get nominated to context elections and who wins in the election. In this sense, Godfatherism means office seekers getting connected to an individual who is believed to have the ability to deliver a desired outcome in an electoral contest. It is the tradition for looking for a political father to help promote one’s political aspiration.
Political Godfatherism is one of the concepts that open narrow doors when it comes to deciding who gets what in the political scene. However, for the purpose of this study, the literary meaning and attributes of godfather needs to be emphasized. Literarily Godfathers are seen in Nigeria to be men who have the power personally to determine both who gets nominated to contest elections and who wins an election. According to Audu (2006:8), Godfathers are people of questionable wealth and influences who robbed political parties of their conventional and legitimate functions of presenting clear and coherent programmes on the basis of which the candidates presented by them are chosen by the voters. He observes that ideally, government that is freely and fairly instituted by the people must be accountable to them as the source of its moral authority to rule. However, this is not possible with people of questionable wealth whose major concern is to recover the money spent for installing their candidates in power and thereafter share certain percentage of what comes to the government purse as their share of the economy.
In the argument of Akpan (2004), Godfathers are people that finance political parties activities and individual electoral campaigns as actively throughout investment outlet to be recorded through frivolous and bloated government contracts, appointment of cronies into choice public offices and other prebendal returns by the beneficiaries. In the same vein, Ibrahim (2006) qualifies Godfathers as individuals who have the ability to deliver the desired outcome in an electoral contest. The emphasis here is that politicians can only achieve political offices with the backing of the so called “Godfathers”. Indeed, godsons become mere surrogates and remain totally subservient to their godfathers.
Not only that, Omotola (2007) is of the view that godfathers are those who have the security connections, extended local links, enormous financial weight, and so on, to plot and determine the success or otherwise of a power seeker at any level of a supposedly competitive politics. The complex processes of doing this from ‘womb to tomb’ is famously known as ‘godfatherism’ (Omotola, 2007:35).
In the final analysis, political godfatherism is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria. It has historical link to the era of the country’s first republic. And it has been an ugly system that had disrupted democratization process in Nigeria. In view of this, the next section gives a historical account of politics of Godfatherism in Nigeria.
Godfatherism in Nigeria’s First Republic 1960-1966
Nigeria became independent in 1960 and a self governing entity. Nigeria had been divided into three zones the Northern region, Western Region and Eastern Region. The euphoria which greeted Nigeria’s independence was soon dashed as a result of ethnicity, mutual distrust and most importantly competition among God Fathers. The Northern region featured Northern People’s Congress headed by Ahmadu Bello. The Western Region featured a strong regional party the Action Group with two influencial and powerful personalities Obafemi Awolowo and Samuel Akintola. It is important to state here that the crises that engulf the Action group in 1962 was the power tussle between two god fathers Awolowo and Akintola. While Awolowo wanted to remove Akintola and impose his own candidate for the post of the premier of the Western region. Akintola and his group were backed by the government at the center.
According to John Mackintosh, the original source of conflict within the Action group lay in Awolowo’s surrender of the premiership of the West and failure to become Federal prime minister.(Mackintosh) Aside this fact, the different ideological stands between Awolowo and Akintola led to factional politics within the Action group. Since you cannot have two captains in one ship, it was just a matter of time before the Action group became a sinking ship. Eventually the failure to resolve the issue led to the declaration of a state of emergency in the Western Region. Thus, Nigeria’s first republic ended with the intervention of the military in politics.
Godfatherism in Nigeria’s Second Republic 1979-1983
The Muritala/Obasanjo military regime made good their promise by restoring power back to the civilian. First Nigeria abolished the parliamentary system hitherto adopted in 1960 and changed to the presidential system of government adopted in the US. The Nigerian constitution was drawn and mandated political parties to reflect the federal character. It is important to note that five political parties contested for the number one seat in 1979 general elections in Nigeria. Each of these political parties has God fathers who wield tremendous influence and power in their different regions. The United Party of Nigeria (UPN) featured Chief Obafemi Awolowo who is seen as the champion of Yoruba’s interest. He also wield tremendous influence in his base the Western region. The Nigerian People’s Party featured Nnamdi Azikiwe an influential and powerful man in the east especially amongst the Ibos as his candidate for the general elections. Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) was headed by Aminu Kano another God father who has strong clout in the North. Great Nigerian Peoples Party (GNPP) featured Ibrahim Waziri another strong man in the North. Finally, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) produced Shehu Shagari as its candidate. Shehu Shagari was a strong Hausa man who has broadbased support among his own people and outside of his domain. These Godfathers jostled for the control of the number one seat in Nigeria that is the post of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. While these men are eminently qualified for the position, there was bound to be only one winner in an electoral contest.
The role of God fathers during this period was more about controlling the number one seat in the country as shown above. However, the second republic was short lived as corruption docked the Shagari Administration. This provided the framework for the military to return to power in 1983.
Godfatherism in the Third Republic 1992-1993
The Buhari government was ousted by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1985. The Babangida government promised to return power back to the civilian. This move was subsequently delayed until 1992. The Babangida government lifted the ban on political activity and subsequently established two political parties the National Republican Convention (NRC) and Social Democractic Party (SDP). During this period, there was only one god father whose actions had a deleterious consequence on Nigerian politics. An election was organised to determine the second civilian president after Shehu Shagari. Moshood Abiola a Yoruba business tycoon contested under the platform of the Social Democratic Party won the June 12 1993 Presidential election. However, Babangida the god father of that period refused to declare him the winner. He subsequently annulled the elections for reasons best known to him. Babangida’s actions made the nation politically unstable. He subsequently bowed to pressures from members of his inner circle to resign from office 23rd
October 1993. Babangida handed power to Ernest Shonekan the head of his transition team to assume the office of the president of the nation. Shonekan was unable to manage the turmoil eventually he was deposed by General Sanni Abacha. The military once again took over power and ruled the nation until 1999.
Godfatherism in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic 1999-2011
1999 marked the beginning of Nigeria’s fourth republic and a return to civilian rule. The activities of God fathers during the fourth republic cannot be over emphasized. Unlike the first republic where the activities of God fathers were geared towards developing the nation, God Fatherism in Nigeria’s fourth republic was geared towards winning elections for their respective god son. God fathers during this era go as far using their financial muscle to see to it that their candidates emerged victorious. Aside this fact God fathers appoint their god son to political offices who bow to their whims and caprice. Hence, it can be said that elections in the fourth republic is between God fathers in different political parties rather than between competent candidates. How influential and powerful your God father is determines the chances of victory at the polls. God fathers who shaped Nigerian politics during this period include Olusegun Obasanjo, Adedibu, Asiwaju Bola Ahmad Tinubu, Alhaji Abubakar Saraki amongst others. It is also important to note conflict often arise between God fathers and their godson when the latter refuse to return due benevolence.
The 2007 presidential election was not different. The ascension of Umaru Musa Yaradua as Nigeria’s President was the handiwork of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. In an interview with Nigeria’s television station Channels; Obasanjo explained the reason why he chose a relatively unknown Yaradua to succeed him. According to him, i chose Yaradua because the other aspirant who wanted the post were corrupt. Among the Presidential hopefuls of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2007 was Obasanjos former deputy Atiku Abubakar, ex governor of Rivers State Peter Odili. Atiku later abandoned the party and joined the defunct Action Congress to contest the presidential election under its platform. However, Obasanjos choice of Yaradua won the Peoples Democractic Party the 2007 general elections.
Godfatherism and 2015 Presidential Elections in Nigeria
GodFatherism took a drastic turn prior to the 2015 Presidential elections. There was a realignment of interests among major god fathers particularly in the opposition parties. Major godfathers and influencial leaders such as Tinubu, Muhammadu Buhari joined forces together to form a strong and vibrant opposition party. The calculus was Tinubu’s ACN + Buhari’s CPC= All Progressive Congress(APC). The party based its mantra on change at the center. The ruling party the PDP was also undergoing a sort of political turmoil. Godfathers in the party disagreed over the methods of operation of the party. There was a huge tussle for control of positions within the party. Allegations of corruption and inability to tackle the Boko Haram menace did more harm than good to People’s Democratic Party. The PDP was already sitting on a gun powder it was just a matter of time before it explodes. The first sign of implosion occurred when the party speaker Tambuwal decamped with his supporters to the All Progressive Congress at the floor of the House of Representatives. The inability to resolve the crisis within the party led to mass exodus of PDP stalwarts to the APC across the state of the federation. President Goodluck Jonathan conservative posture on issues of corruption especially the inability of his administration to find the missing 200 chibok girls did not help his image among the populace. While some segment of the populace feel that the President did his best, majority believes that the President did not do enough to find the girls, tackle corruption and the Boko Haram menance. The major turning point came when the President fell out with his Godfather Olusegun Obasanjo. Effort to reconcile father and son proved abortive.
This move was to have a deleterious consequence on the chances of the President at the 2015 polls. Obasanjo rejected the PDP tore his membership card and declared himself an elder stateman. The APC took advantage of the crisis within the PDP made overtures to Obasanjo which he gratefully obliged. Discontentment was very high against the PDP among the populace and 2015 Presidential elections presented them the chance to exercise their civic rights. The Peoples Democratic Party presented Goodluck Jonathan as its candidate and All Progressive Congress presented Muhammadu Buhari likewise. The effect of the exodus of party stalwarts, Obasanjos alignment with the opposition party and the discontentment of the people affected the result of the 2015 polls. For the first time in 16 years of Nigeria’s nascent democracy, an opposition party ousted an incumbent President and subsequently became a ruling party.
God fatherism did not end with the 2015 electioneering process. In fact it reared its head again at the constitution of the principal officers at both the higher and lower chamber of the national assembly. The optimism that greeted the victory of the All Progressive Congress at the polls soon gave way to pessimism as some members of the APC disagreed with godfathers of the party over who to head the number three and number four seats respectively.
GODFATHERISM: ITS GOOD GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA
In Nigeria’s fourth republic, the emergence of godfatherism posed great threat not only to good governance but also the socio-economic stability of democratic governance. Perhaps one of the most disturbing and damaging influence of godfatherism in Nigeria’s fourth republic was in domain of making nonsense of a truly free, fair and credible electoral process in which the electorates by right are expected to freely elect people of their choice into public office to represent their interests. Indeed, the privilege of electing people of their choice into public office was denied given the situation in which godfathers foisted candidates of their preference on the generality of the people. This is to say the least very inimical to the tenets of democratic rule. When public office holders would not be accountable to the people, who at any rate did not count in their elections into public office.
Invariably, the loyalty of such public office holders would be tilted towards their godfathers and this in itself negates one of the critical attributes of democracy which is responsive and transparent government. This scenario is also inimical to good governance and political stability which are predicated on the rule of law, due process, accountability and transparency in the management of public business. The emergence of godfatherism has also robbed the citizens of the privilege of enjoying the dividends of democratic governance in the sense that the- would be government became reluctant to initiate and implement policies that would advance the wellbeing of the generality of the citizens. This was as a result of the fact that godfatherism in Nigeria was basically predatory in nature. The primary motive of venturing into politics was borne out of the need to acquire money from the coffers of government to which their godsons held sway. Therefore the lean financial resource accruable to the state from the federation account which was meant for the improvement of living standard of the citizens was paramount interest to them. In instances where the godsons upon reflection refused to settle their godfathers as agreed upon before securing public office, hell was let loose. The experiences recorded in Enugu State in 1999 between Jim Nwobodo and Governor Chimaroke Nnamani. Also in 2007 between Governor Sullivan Chime and Chimaroke Nnamani were awful.
Another far reaching implications of godfatherism on the entrenchment of good governance, which in turn would engender democratic growth and stability, according to Uduji (2009) is the complete erosion of the normative elements of democracy of which trusts is a sine-qua-non attribute between the government and the governed. In a polity where prescribed rules guiding the electoral process are frequently disobeyed with impunity, the basis of citizen’s trust in government was compromised. If the situation is not decisively addressed with the urgency it deserves, the resultant effect is that trust as a vital social capital is lost, and when there is no trust between the government and the governed, interaction would only take place on the basis of mutual suspicion and this does not augur well for the healthy development of democratic governance.
Practice of Godfatherism has permeated the society such that it is believed it is the norm to the extent that if one does not have godfather you are considered not serious to achieve your aim in any sphere of life. This is so because of the influence godfathers wield in various fields of endeavors. But one major sphere of life godfatherism has its stronghold very effectively and without doubt is politics. It is a thriving business as democracy and both have turned out to be partners (pro and anti) as the country’s democratic system is on the march also. From all indications both politics and godfatherism are inseparable in the Nigerian political system. This can be seen where godfathers call the shots even where money is involved. One worrisome aspect of godfatherism is that it is strongly laced with selfishness of the godfather who believes that without him or her nothing is possible whether favourable or not to the system, therefore the deal must forge ahead.
Godfatherism is like a colossus in the Nigerian political system whereby good governance suffers very major setback to the detriment of the people. Curbing this cankerworm called godfatherism from the political system seems the only way out to save the politics of this country from deep corruption. Godfathers loom larger than life having realized that they, godfathers, hold the ace in politics and thereby making good governance difficult to achieve. Curbing or reducing the menace of godfatherism from the Nigeria’s political system seems the panacea for good governance and no gainsaying the fact that the political class must and should act, learn, practice, to resist, reject, object to insinuations and innuendos by godfathers. Good governance goes side by side with development. Infact, the political class have a duty to work towards self actualization in the political process and free themselves from the grip of the godfather if curbing godfatherism from the system would be achieved. The recent political development in the system points to the fact that politicians and teeming electorates have been sacrificed on the altar of the godfathers hence good governance is nose diving at a speed detriment to the country’s development. The internal democracy of political parties calls to question on the issue of good governance and curbing godfatherism. What was witnessed in the recent primary elections was a clear indication that good governance is yet to find a place in our political system.
Majorly due to lack of good governance Nigeria as the largest black nation is facing unprecedented embarrassment before the International community. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to salvage the country from the hands of those who feels without them nothing goes and if it must happen, their interest must be first even if it is at the risk of the majority.godfatherism must be fought head on if our politics must grow beyond its bounds on the positive.
In addition, the effect of Godfatherism on Nigeria’s national development cannot be over emphasized. As shown above Godfatherism is fast killing Nigeria’s democracy. Competent candidates who are better equipped to run for political offices are overlooked in favour of people with little or no technical know. The implication of these is that democracy government of the people, for the people and by the people is no longer feasible. This because the candidate that eventually gets the political post is more often than not subservient to the god father who put him there. The effect of these is that government at various levels are no longer accountable to the people.
Aside this fact, god fatherism has introduced ‘money politics’ into the Nigerian political space. The concept of ‘money politics’ the belief that money can buy you votes and win you elections. The level of poverty in the country has aided this venture. Electioneering campaigns are no longer by well articulated and productive manifestoes as candidates ride on the financial muscle of their respective god fathers. This has resulted in bad leadership at various levels of governments. It has also engendered corruption as most godfathers use state funds to finance their respective godson elections. Most of these funds are unaccounted for till date. This has stifled Nigeria’s national development.
The Effect of Godfatherism in Nigerian Politics
Since 1999 when Nigeria regained her legitimate political power from military administrator under the auspices of General Abdulsalam many cases of political violence from north and south poles of the country have become the order of the day which characterized the efforts of political godfathers and some godsons in various states. Among the effect of political godfathers are:
Massive destruction of lives and properties: In the beginning and post elections of April, 2011 in Nigeria, there were many cases of massive destruction of lives and properties as a result of the instructions given by the godfathers to their supporters in various state of the federation. In Kano State, some unspecified number of people died, non-indigenes fled Kano as the violence spread. Despite the indefinite curfew imposed on the city to douse tension, non-natives still live in fear of attacks; several places of worship were burnt down by youths. Thousands of non-natives were seeking refuge in military and police barracks, sleeping in the open, without essential facilities (The Nation Wednesday, April 20, 2011; 7).
Bauchi state is also a place of crises where many lives and properties were lost, five Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices were burnt and property worth of millions of naira destroyed in five local governments, more than 500 lap-top computers and 13 generators were burnt and windows and doors were stolen by hoodlums after post presidential poll in the State. Also many lives of leaders of tomorrow “corps members” were claimed by some groups of people before and aftermath of the presidential election in Bauch, Niger, Kogi and some other states.
Turning young citizens to Hooligans cum thugs: In the just concluded 2011 April polls, cases of suspected thugs were reported in some states. In Kwara state, the state police arrested 23 persons suspected to be political thugs during the 16th April, 2011 election. In his remarks, the police commissioner, Mr. Mamman Tsafe stated that a political party imported thugs from Lagos to disrupt the election in the state. Also, an Ilorin magistrate court in Kwara state remanded 14 supporters of ACN in prison custody for alleged public disturbance. The accused were arraigned on a four-count charge of criminal conspiracy inciting disturbance, mischief and causing injury contrary to sections 97, 114, 327, and 246 of penal code. The charge sheet said Otunba Bode Oyedepo of No. 16 Adebayo Avenue Oro, told the police how he was attacked at Iludun-Oro with his fellow PDP members by thugs allegedly sent by ACN senatorial candidate for Kwara south. Anu Ibiwoye. Oyedepo further explained that the thugs allegedly came in vehicle and attacked them with bottles and guns (The Nation Monday, April, 2011: 3).
Proliferation of arms and ammunitions: The clash between factions in the Oyo State branch of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) claimed many lives and left several others injured and some properties reportedly damaged in Ibadan, the state capital. The slain victim, identified as Dele Ayegbo, was said to be a member of the faction loyal to the reinstated chairman, Lateef Akinsola Oloruntoki (Tokyo). The conflict was sparked off by a struggle by the Tokyo faction to take over some motor-parks hitherto controlled by the other faction who had taken over reign since the relationship between him and the former governor, Adebayo Alao- Akala, got strained.
The urge to take over the parks was reinforced by the de-proscription of the union by the last regime, as well as the emergence of new government in the state, which was believed to have a soft spot for Tokyo’s faction. The invading faction stormed the Iwo-Ife axis of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway motor parks shooting sporadically to scare the occupants. Several people were reportedly injured while scores of vehicles were damaged during the shooting that lasted for over one hour. The injured, it was learnt, included commuters at the parks, who were trying to escape from the scene having seen the dangerous weapons wielded by the factions of the drivers’ union. Traders around the parks and shop owners at the Iwo-Road interchange, Monatan Junction, Lagos Expressway parks and Ojoo way were forced to abandon their wears as they scampered for safety from the booming gun (Next, Tuesday, May 31, 2011).
Disfranchisement of citizens to exercise their political right: Two weeks to the general elections, there are doubts over plans for a credible exercise in Oyo state. Reason: voters’ registers in 27 local government areas have been tampered with by members of PDP in collusion with INEC officials, four suspects were arrested Saturday evening 19th march, 2011 in a hotel in old Bodija, Ibadan, the state capital, while allegedly tampering with registration materials in some local governments. INEC materials, including six laptops and voters’ registers, were found on the suspect (The Nation, March 21, 2011: 1-2).
Adesina, the ACN leader in Oyo accused the PDP governorship candidate, and godfather as well, Chief Adebayo Alao Akala, of sponsoring the illegality. He further alleged that Adakeja, the INEC Residential Electoral Commissioner in Oyo was in an unholy alliance with the governor to subvert democracy.
Taraba state is another focusing area where the report of disenfranchisement was exercised by political godfather of Governor Danbaba Suntai of PDP, Danbaba was accused by ACN of unconstitutionally using the security apparatus to intimidate and arrest political opponents. The party alleged that soldiers arrested and detained 30 of its supporters ahead of April polls (The Nation, March 21, 2011: 6).
In Kogi state, the ACN described the national assembly as shameful in all many parts of the state. The party called for the cancellation of some results in some polling units in the central senatorial district, especially Abuja/ Ozuja, there were cases of multiple voting, alterations, falsification and disorderliness (The Nation Tuesday, April 12, 2011).
Politicized employment in the state cum the center: The appointment of political office holders and some civil servants today is purely political. The godfathers of a particular state as well as center usually task their godsons on the kind of people to be employed in their cabinet even though the person may not be up-to-the task in terms of experience or ability to deliver. He ought to be employed since directive is comes from the godfather. However, if godson reacts to the directive of his godfather negatively it leads to political violence. See the case of lower house (House of Representatives) in Nigeria, the emergence of 2011/2015 speaker of the House that led to the destruction of zoning arrangement drawn by PDP as both former president Olusegun Obasanjo imposed Hon. Muraina (PDP) from Oyo and president Goodluck Jonathan in collaboration with his wife Dame Patience under the policy of affirmative action and 35% involvement of women in government presented Mulikat (PDP) from Oyo but the work of godfathers in these policies failed as the honourable members decided to install Honourable Aminu Tambuwal of PDP from Sokoto by majority votes of 252 as against 90 votes cast for Honourable Mulikat. As a result of this, the PDP executives still do not recognize the current speaker as the winner, no congratulatory message has ever been sent to him rather they continue preaching zoning arrangement.
Promotes high level of poverty: Most of the political godfathers engage inhabitants of a state with high level of poverty. In my state as an example, the then political godfathers, like Dr. Olusola Saraki and late Governor Muhammed Lawal and the current strongman of PDP in Kwara state, Dr. Bukola Saraki have distributed raw food, cooked food, clothes and money for so many able and disabled individuals to buy their votes during elections.
Enhanced disrespect of the rule of laws: The Nigerian styled Patron-Client relationship nearly truncated Nigerian puerile democracy on June 10th, 2003. A self-confessed godfather, Uba employed thugs and Nigerian police to abduct his godson, Chris Ngige, who was the elected governor of Anambra State. Ngige’s sin was his refusal to allow Uba to nominate all political appointees, take the largest share of state’s allocation, and instantly pay him a sum of N2.5 billion; the claimed cost of installing Ngige as governor (Onwumere, 2007).Their loyalists embarked in a battle of ‘iron’ and ‘steel’. The State became a war zone, innocent lives were lost, houses were set ablaze, and Anambra state became ungovernable for weeks. It was not a case of two fighting, but a desperate godfather (Uba and his ‘troops’) consuming everything at their reach when it became clear that his investment was going down the drain. The only solution the federal government proffered was the threat to declare a state of emergency in the state.
Production of an unresponsive leadership: Former speaker of House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole gained the position of leadership through some political godfathers within the PDP after the allegation passed by the house over the financial misappropriation engaged by Hon. Patricia Etteh. Dimeji Bankole who headed 6th National House of Assembly (Lower House) was also arrested by anti- corruption crusade (EFCC) due to the fact that he engaged in financial impropriety of about N10billion loan that was shared among the principal officers’ increment. Other principal officers’ increment shows that the minority whip, deputy minority leader and deputy minority whip that have been receiving N36million per quarter received an increment of N14million to make up N50million each while the rest of members got an increment of N14 million on usual N28million per quarter (Vanguard 6th June, 2011, p.5). In conclusion, this an indication that bad leaders will emerge if individual attained the power through political godfathers.
Manipulation of public policies: Most of Nigerian policies are usually bent by political godfathers to enable them fix in their candidates to the corridor of power. In the recent time, the House of Representatives has declared Honourable Patricia Etteh as innocent. Also in Ogun state, as a result of political erratic existing between Obasanjo and Daniel which led to the creation of two factions in the party (PDP) at the state level, the two aspirants emerged for the governorship race. Daniel’s faction was able to see the sympathy of INEC as the INEC representatives witnessed the conduct of party’s primaries at recognized venue for the exercise conduct while Obasanjo’s faction was declared by court as winner at primary level in-spite of the fact that non of INEC representatives witness the conduct, but, due to the strongman Obasanjo in Nigerian politics, his function was able to see the light of the day by the court in order to pave way for them in the General Elections.
Several articles have emerged on the menace of political godfatherism in Nigeria (Albert, 2005; Obaji, 2006; Gambo, 2006; Adeoye 2009; Haruna and Jumba 2011; Majekodunmi and Awosika, 2013), each scholar tries to define the term according to his point of reasoning, theoretical extraction etc. For the purpose of this seminar, the following few empirical work shall be explored.
According to Mbamara, (2004), godfatherism is the invasion of the political candidate by discarnate powerful sponsor, tending to complete possession for the purpose of selfish gratification. Going by this author, it is a political slave trade or political sponsorship based on political manipulation with several evil agenda. In the context of this discussion, however, the godfather is the political slave merchant while the godson is the political slave or slave boy or political article for sale. The godson is purchased with a big sum of money under a demonic oath. The aims and objectives of this deal include access to appointments, stealing of government money, robbery and looting of government treasury. The decision-making appointments and contract award is usually manipulated by the godfather. It is like drug abuse (Mbamara, 2004).
The view presented above by Mbamara, (2004) captures the reality of the menace of the political godfatherism in Nigeria. It specifically describes the scenario in Anambra State during Dr. Mbadinuju’s regime but other factors that characterized the challenge of godfathers as evident in states like Oyo State are conspicuously omitted. These include violence and bribery. Thus Ayoade (2006:83) cited by Omonijo et al., (2013) posits: The godfather is not in the business of philanthropy…The godfather gives support to install the godson oftentimes by devious antidemocratic means… They are merchants of fear. They dispense violence freely and fully on those who stand in their way. In this they play the additional role of Warlord. They establish, train and maintain a standing personal “army” which they ostensibly supplement with a sprinkling of the official police detachment. In order to effect electoral change, they bribe election officials to deliver the winning election figures. They also bribe the police and other security agents to look the other way when they traffic in ballot boxes and sack opponents strongholds. The godson, having taken office, returns the gesture hundredfold to the point that the godfather becomes an “intractable parasite” on government. The initial support given by the godfather then becomes an investment with a colossal rate of returns because the godfather becomes the de facto governor, which goes to explain the sociological theory of reciprocity which Oloko, (2008) associates with the escalation of corruption in Nigeria.
Scholars above presented the negative side of godfatherism and of course its application in Nigeria today. In other words, it could be suggested that these authors present their views based on the Nigerian experience. Reviewing in the past, it is evident the concept is not a terrible one, it is as an institution of political king making through which certain political office holders of tenuous political clout come into power Kolawole(2004) cited in Majekodunmi and Awosika, 2013). Therefore, godfatherism is a topic of interest not only in sociology, politics and in religious institutions (Familusi, 2012), but in all areas of life.
A clear picture of biblical version of godfatherism is seen in the life of Moses and
Joshua Kolawole (2004), cited by Majekodunmi and Awosika, (2013). Through a divine instruction, a minister of Moses-Joshua emerged the leader of Israel after a long-year of political training and mentorship. The same situation repeated itself in the life of Elijah and Elisha (2King 2: 1-14). In the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria, the same scenario led to the emergence of Pastor E. Adeboye and the General overseer of the Church after a few years of training and mentorship under Paa Akindayomi, the founder of the church.
Therefore, every notable leader, in all spheres of life, in all ages, considers succession an issue of priority, out of which continuation of his legacies and the long term programmes of development of the organization he represents may not transcend his generation. However, Nigerian elites, either in the military or in politics, being ‘a class in itself’, (Wright 2006; Borland, 2008) have succeeded in manipulating the concept of godfatherism to their advantage and to the detriment of the nation with impunity. They are having their ways because the country has become a safe haven for evil. Criminal activities spread like harmattan fire in high and in low places. Given this, Ojih, (2001) submitted that from one institution to another, from one sector of the national activities to another, from one community to another, from one generation to another, this pathetic phenomenon is observed: all things bright and beautiful, wise and wonderful, all creatures, great and small; Nigerians destroy them all. Similarly, Ejiofor, (1987) remarked, an average Nigerian is corrupt, dishonest, nepotic, lazy and tribalistic. In line with these scholars, many Nigerians have applied their corrupt nature, evil attitude and terrible belief systems and more dangerously ‘not my father’s business syndrome’ Omonijo, Uche, Rotimi and Nwadiolor, (2014) to politics, resulting in the menace of godfatherism, leading to poor leadership with attendant effects on development.
Previous studies have shown that good leadership is very essential in the process of development in any nation. In the light of this, Omonijoet al., (2011) compare leadership with a motor engine that drives human beings to their respective destinations and remark “leadership is more or less like an engine that propels man’s society to either advancement or backwardness”. Therefore, a nation with good leadership could develop in all spheres of life while the development of a country with poor leadership could be retarded. Although it has been argued that natural endowments contribute significantly to development, as evident inthe United Arab Emirates (Rizvi, 1993; Barma, Kaiser, Minh and Viñuelaet al., 2012) but this could only be possible if these endowments are consciously harnessed and prudently managed.
Godfatherism remains a decisive phenomenon in Nigeria’s politics. There remains the need to understand the ultimate power of godfathers, and the factors necessitating its inevitability in Nigerian politics. The modus operandi of contemporary godfathers in Nigeria is not desirable for political and sustainable development in the country. Therefore, Godfatherism is doing more harm than good to Nigeria’s political growth and development. Unless something drastic is done to arrest the current trend of godfathers intrusion into government in Nigeria. We may not enjoy the dividend of democracy that our forefathers work so hard for.
- The electoral law should lay emphasis on proper conduct of primary elections in order to enhance the rights of the electorates in the choice of their candidates or
- Selection of candidates for elections or declaring candidates “unopposed” should be outlawed and random plebiscite should be introduced by the INEC in the respective constituencies to ascertain the popularity or acceptance of candidates chosen by political parties through
- Alternatively, the INEC should request for and duly treat preliminary public petitions against candidates chosen at the
- A provision should be made for independent candidature in the electoral law in order to cut the wings of political
- Misuse of the powers of incumbency should be curbed by appointing interim government in place of incumbent President, Governor and Local Government Chairmen shortly before the next elections. This will curb the practice whereby the aforementioned public office holders preside over the elections in which they are contestants and collude with godfathers to rig elections in their own favour with their paraphernalia of
- Electronic voting should be adopted for all elections in the country in order to minimize electoral
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