An Assessment Of Godfatherism And Governance In Anambra State, Nigeria: The Christian Religion As A Panacea

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

An Assessment Of Godfatherism And Governance In Anambra State, Nigeria: The Christian Religion As A Panacea


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of Study

In a democratic government, a lot of factors predict the travails of this system, ranging from ineffective structures and institutions, the foreboding presence of the military, corruption, money politics, and godfatherism. However, political godfatherism is one of the factors that has embedded a democratic setting in Nigeria since the first republic. Before it was adopted in political circles, godfatherism was formerly a religious term which presupposed placing a young Christian under the tutelage of an older and more proven Christian. It is important to emphasize the fact that godfatherism is not alien to traditional African societies given the role played by the elderly. Traditionally, parents and elders are revered because they are custodians of customs and traditions coupled with their experience. Within the traditional African socio-political system, traditional godfathers are regarded as mentors, role models, and leaders par excellence. However, the term has assumed a political coloration as attention is no longer seriously focused on Christian or traditional godfathers but political godfathers. In Nigerian politics, godfatherism depicts a benevolent father who has all it takes to promote a successful political career for a candidate, while expecting tangible and intangible rewards from the recipient. In this light, politics in Nigerian society is seen more as a means of attaining wealth rather than as a process of service and the existence of godfatherism is very real. Within the political system, Godfatherism is regarded as an ideology which is constructed on the belief that certain individuals possess considerable means to unilaterally determine who gets a party ticket to run for an election and who wins an electoral contest (Gambo, 2006). In the same vein, Adeoye (2009) states that godfatherism in its simple form is a term used to describe the relationship between a godfather and godson. Thus, a godfather is someone who has built unimaginable respect and followers (voters) in the community and possesses a well-organised political platform and general acceptance from the electorate that could secure victory for candidates of his choice.

Consequently, the impact of the godfathers on Nigeria’s general elections was unprecedented. Godfathers are those who have the security connections, extended local links, and enormous financial weight to plot and determine the success of a power seeker at any level of supposedly competitive politics. Although godfatherism has become an institutionalized feature in Nigerian politics, Over the years, its contemporary manifestations suggest that it has assumed epidemic proportions, becoming one of the greatest threats to democratic consolidation and good governance in Nigeria. Good governance is, among other things, participatory, transparent and accountable, effective and equitable, and it promotes the rule of law. It ensures that political, social, and economic priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decision-making over the allocation of development resources.

The recent activities of some Nigerian godfathers could be likened to attributes of mafianism. However, some still see the existence of godfathers as a balancer of power in a democracy. Anambra State, in particular, is one of the federating units in Nigeria that is popularly known for godfather politics. Between 1999 and 2003, the fight was between Emeka Offor (Godfather) and the Governor of the State, Chinwoke Mbadinuju (Godson), who refused to dance to the tune of the godfather, which subsequently led to Mbadinuju losing the gubernatorial ticket for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his inability to contest elections in 2003. The dust raised by the actions of these political bigwigs was yet to settle when two other actors emerged, Chris Uba and Chris Ngige. Uba was the godfather responsible for the installation of Ngige. Ngige pledged his loyalty to Uba and assured him of cooperation. Based on this, Uba bankrolled the gubernatorial election to the tune of three billion naira. After the election, Ngige refused to pay back his godfather the necessary commission and patronage. And what was supposed to be a cold war was made public with the abduction of Ngige and his purported resignation (Chukwuemeka et al, 2013). Although most researchers believe in the need to have a good-hearted individual (people’s hero) in the sole realm of absolute power, a godfather distributes power as he deems, and anoints those who rule. But, godfatherism has taken a strange dimension in Nigeria’s political environment. It has become a menace, pulling down the foundations of mass-driven governance, thereby denying Nigerians the much-deserved dividends of democracy and good governance.


1.2 Statement of Problem

It is possible to argue that nothing is actually wrong with godfathering. The practice only becomes a matter of concern when the concept is put in the wrong perspective. In recent times, the application of this concept has mostly resulted to democratic failures and disasters. From denial of electing credible candidates to imposition of mediocrity into political and appointive positions, and the whole experience has been that of pains, misery, penury, squalor and damnation arising from poor performance and poor service delivery among godsons. Again, the whole scenario has been the promotion of political follow-follow mentality and the empowerment of disempowerment. The point that needs to be reinstated here above all is that, it is impossible to understand the character of political godfatherism in the past and its contemporary forms in the Nigeria’s fourth republic.

Several cases of political violence in Nigeria that were linked to the influence of godfathers have impacted negatively on the democratic process in Nigeria. The consequences range from the destruction of lives and properties, electoral malpractices, disenfranchisement of many qualified electorates through the engagement of thugs and vote buying, and so on, which make democratic consolidation and good governance a mirage in Nigeria. Thus, godfatherism is a threat to Nigeria’s nascent democracy, making it imperative to continue exploring the phenomenon and coming up with possible long-term policies to put an end to this malaise in our society. Therefore, it is upon this premise that this study seeks to examine godfatherism and governance in Anambra State, Nigeria.


1.3 Objective Of The Study

The main focus of this study is to critically assess Godfatherism and Governance in Anambra State, Nigeria. Specifically, the study seeks:

  1. To examine the linkage between to examine the linkage between godfatherism and governance in Anambra state.
  2. To investigate root motives that spur political godfatherism in Anambra State.
  3. To unravel the implication of godfatherism on development and democratic consolidation in Anambra State.
  4. To proffer to policy options that will address the challenge of godfatherism on good governance, security and development in Anambra state.

1.4 Research Hypothesis

The study will be guided by the following hypothesis

  1. HO1: There are no root motive that spurs godfatherism in Anambra State
    HI1: There are several root motives that spurs godfatherism in Anambra State.
  2. HO2: There is no significant implication of godfatherism on good governance, development and democratic consolidation in Anambra State.
    HI2: There is a significant implication of godfatherism on good governance, development and democratic consolidation in Anambra State.

1.5 Significance Of The Study

This study aims to contribute to studies on godfatherism and its linkage to political violence with specific focus on Anambra state. Such a study will proffer viable recommendations that will address the issues of political violence which continues to undermine Nigeria’s nascent democracy. Indeed, it is hardly contentious that the phenomenon of godfatherism and its linkage to political violence constitute a dire threat to Nigeria’s democratic process, national stability and security. Therefore, the study is not only timely, but crucial at the opportune period where Nigeria democratic process is still fragile and all efforts must be geared towards strengthening and consolidating democracy in Nigeria. The study will empirically add to the body of knowledge and serve as reference material for other academia in related field of study.


1.6 Scope Of The Study

The study focuses on the incidents of godfatherism and its role in the political scenery of Anambra state, Nigeria with particular emphasis on its linkage with issues of political violence in the state. The chosen time frame for the study is from 1999 to the 2003 elections which were permeated with the practice of godfatherism in the State and its resultant effect on the democratic process.


1.7 Limitation Of The Study

During the course of this research, the following factors are proposed to be a limitation.

Financial Constraints:

Financial constraints tend to impede the researcher’s efficiency in locating relevant materials, literature, or information, as well as in data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview).

Time Constraint

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research is reduced. However the researcher will give in their best to make this research a success.


1.9 Definition Of Terms

Good Governance:

Good governance is a way of measuring how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in a preferred way. Governance is “the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented”. Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. Accountability is a key requirement of good governance.

Democracy:

A democracy means rule by the people. The name is used for different forms of government, where the people can take part in the decisions that affect the way their community is run. It is a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

Godfatherism:

Godfatherism is regarded as an ideology which is constructed on the belief that certain individuals possess considerable means to unilaterally determine who gets party ticket to run for an election and who wins electoral contest.


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