By OBIOTIKA T. WILFRED
We can hear and see godfatherism in politics all over the world but that of Africa is quite brutish and appalling. The evils perpetrated in Nigeria political space through the influence and control of political godfathers are uncountable. It all boils down to the aphorism that; “the son of nobody cannot be somebody” which guides the political space in Nigeria except through the assistance or back up of a godfather.
It made so many credible and competent citizens to shy away from politics in Nigeria. Most popular individuals who could have won election on their own were at worse afraid until when they received the ‘blessings’ of a godfather. The phenomenon is gradually coming to an end with the evolution of the ‘Obi-dients’ if not for the electoral violence and mindless rigging perpetuated by the APC Government.
With the new movement and youth mobilization, godfatherism is gradually fading away from the Nigerian political scene. The fight/battle to take back Nigeria does not have any other secret motivation nor internal backup from any unknown quarter. It is purely revolution-driven and the burning desire of young people to get Nigeria out of a mess and quagmire.
A year or two years before the 2023 Presidential Elections, the social media was agog with a ratified appraisal of one man who had built, established men and material. It was referenced that this strong man made two people presidents, 5 people governors, 10 persons senators and the list go on and on.
The man is seen as a kingmaker. Encomiums continued to pour out for an outstanding achievement especially in the area of capacity building amongst men. Perhaps, one may want to know the actual meaning of “Jagaban”? The days of Chief Awolowo, in the first and second republic was as deadly as well.
In the time of Adedibu in the whole South-west, the same type of influence prevailed. The situation in Lagos State shows clearly that past administration did not empower the youths nor do much in the area of job creation.
The owners of Lagos and kingmakers were busy mobilizing touts – Agberos, Alayes in the struggle for the internally generated revenue which is never accounted for. We also learnt that the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is a brain child of Jagaban of Lagos and that the whole shortcomings of that government could be attributed to him.
All the political appointments to be made in APC from the Southern part of the country were supervised by the same man. Of recent, we were meant to understand that the appointment of the INEC Chairman equally came from his camp. But why would a well-known godfather and kingmaker now rise up to say; ‘it is my turn’? What would be the fate of godsons?
Basically, three candidates amongst the contenders for the last concluded 2023 Presidential Elections were seen as godfathers with their different levels and control. Rabiu Kwankwakwaso, a former governor, has been determining who runs or wins with the Kwankwassiya Movement in the North. Atiku Abubakar is not only a godfather but a flawless leveler who hijacked the internal functioning of PDP crippling the party’s chances to win as the strongest opposition party in Nigeria. But one man stood out in their midst.
The youths and poor masses in Nigeria united by suffering, have placed all their hope on him. Many have wondered about the inspiration and motivation that this one man has. At a time, he said that his counsel, advice came from a mad man/woman.
Notably, from the first republic to the fourth republic, Nigeria has had a lot of persons who played the role of godfathers. Starting from Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Aminu Kano and so many others. In Anambra State, for instance, the stunt of the ‘unholy trinity’ as godfathers was ended by one man. We thank the present Government of Prof. C C Soludo who is bridging the gap and cutting every linkage to undue influence in the state.
He started this by ending touting (Agberos) and empowering the youths through a Programme tagged; One Youth Two Skills. Governor Soludo has openly declared himself as a man capable and not intimidated by the demands of governance. Prof. C C Soludo has often shown the Anambra State Electorates that he is in-charge, not intimidated nor cowed by any challenge.
In his one year in office report and score card, he has vigorously and meticulously tackled different fronts that posed a great challenge immediately he assumed office which other Southeastern Governors are still battling with.
The godfatherism political system works in every part of Nigeria except if a man stands in the gap. The type of mafia gang, violence, killings and conspiracy that go on in Nigeria under the watchful eyes of godfathers are unpardonable. All these take place to feather their own nest or to drink full from their cup of lusts, ego and pride.
A former Labour leader, Adams Oshiomole, who joined politics to right the wrongs of the mafias, ended up trying to become the worst of a godfather. Some of the kingmakers are even referred to as ‘mafia godfather’.
It is a norm in Nigeria politics that you must respect the wishes of whoever helped, assisted you to get to the seat of power. It is often said that success without a successor is a failure. Nigerian politicians do not have this in mind. What most politicians consider is someone who will protect their interest, cover up their inadequacies and impunity and give them a say in government.
Some administration handover to someone that will agree to pay them a huge sum of the state’s resources as pensions. The Human Right Watch in a 2007 report entitled, “Corruption, Godfatherism and the Funding of Political Violence”, observed thus: “These godfathers are not mere financiers of political campaigns. Rather they are individuals whose power stems not just from wealth but from their ability to deploy violence and corruption to manipulate national, state, or local political systems in support of the politicians they sponsor.
In return, they demand a substantial degree of control over the governments they help bring into being – not to promote good policies, efficient administration but to milk the state dry of her resources. We do not have good advantages of political godfatherism.
Sadly, the inherent danger or harm of political godfatherism in a fragile democracy like Nigeria cannot be over emphasized. Godfatherism is an evil building block for corruption, bad governance, political instability, retrogression, under development, mediocrity and perpetual poverty of the people. Nigeria is a reflection of anti-people’s political behaviour by voracious godfathers whose major preoccupation is to perpetuate their hegemonic political influence and control, personal interest and accumulation of abundant wealth.
Many thanks to the Obi-dient movement who has come with a great attitudinal change, abhorrence to money politics, positive perception of politics, strict compliance to the electoral acts and guidelines, condemnation of evil and celebration of good with patriotism as a solution for positive change.
The politics of godfatherism in Nigeria is always achieved through vote buying, political violence, manipulation of election results in collaboration with the electoral body, political assassination, blackmail, impeachment, defection etc. The fourth republic politics in Nigeria has, more than before, become plagued by the overbearing presence and influence of political godfathers.
Most politicians see political godfathers as the most convenient means of winning elections. However, experience has shown that the patronage of political godfathers carries with it great consequences, for the public and political stability of the country (Afe, 2018). If a proper and right candidate is not elected to represent the citizens, such a society will lack the dividends of democracy and the morale to vote, because most of the candidates who represent them are imposed by some elites in society.
There is an end in view; end of an era. The era of godfatherism is about to be ended in Nigeria before May 29, 2023. This can only be possible with the Nigerian Judiciary. If the sweetness of bribery could be avoided, if the immorality of corruption could be overcome, the effects of godfatherism in Nigeria Politics would be minimized. There are over 100 filed cases in different Appeal Courts all over Nigeria.
If only our justice system can be straightened; if only the will to conquer vice and the maintenance of common good would guide us, if only the judiciary would co-operate with the intention of the poor masses of Nigeria; then Nigeria will be great again. The temptation is very high! The odds far outweigh whatever might be before us. Just one man can be used. One man can make the dreams and prayers of many Nigerians a reality. Your guess is as good as mine.
Finally, it hurts to kick against the pricks. Resisting God is a most futile effort. A lot of leaders and dictators tried it in the past and ended shamefully. A move of God is engulfing the entire space of the nation and to oppose God will be the most foolish thing any man can do. We keep our fingers crossed and watch how it will play out. The voice of prayer is never silent! So many have their mindset depraved, feelings perverted and their minds completely possessed by Satan. But our God cannot be mocked (Galatians 6:7).
By OBIOTIKA T. WILFRED
Holy Child Secondary School,