The Concept Of Godfatherism And Its Influence On Nigerian Politics And Politicians
This study was carried out to examine the concept of god-fatherism and its influence on Nigeria politics and politician. There has been a lot of crises in Nigerian politics and Administration – a crisis of confidence in our elected officials, a lost of faith in our democratic government and an increasing frustration at government, and more also, an increasing frustration at the irrelevance of individual’s vote in our political process. All these crises are crises caused by the unholy alliance of godfatherism (Ikejiani, 2006). This study is an appraisal of godfatherism in Nigerian politics and administration with reference to the problems which includes – creating a political process in which vested interest predominate, and the public interest is forgotten and influencing the outcome of public policies to the interest of few (godfathers) and to the detriment of the Nigerian populace. This study recommends that if godfatherism must be stamped out of our political and administrative systems, corruptive tendencies which increases the financial base of the godfathers by creating a wide range of problems in our politics and administration must be tackled head-on because they use such moneys to place their godsons and protégés in various positions of government. The study concluded that there is the need for an increased confidence in the duly elected officials and also increase faith in the democratization process. Electorates should be allowed to vote for their preferred candidates during elections without intimidation by political thugs who are part of the instruments of godfatherism
1.1 Background to the Study
In Nigeria today, the activities of godfathers have been on the increase and it is a very sad irony that a country like Nigeria through which trillions of petroleum dollars have passed since the 70’s have the most miserable infrastructures, medical services, educational system and standards. The worst are unemployment, deplorable roads and non-existent transportation system. The living standard of the average Nigerians does not reflect the oil wealth of the country. The country is quite below in the world’s poverty marginal index because as at 2005, 70.8 percent of the population was estimated to be living below poverty line of $1 per day. (UN Human Development Report, 1990-2005).
The concept of godfatherism is firmly establishing itself as a guiding principle in contemporary Nigerian politics. Godfathers are generally defined as men who have the power personally to determine both who gets nominated to participate in elections and who wins the election. In the past, Nigerian society had less crime that the judicial systems have attempted to deal with. Lately, our legal systems can not deal with that because Nigerian society built criminals fast in the late 20th and early 21st centuries by practices of democratization and militarization, where the governing systems failed to deliver the other takes over. In democracy, one way that the government is breeding criminals is by sponsoring godfatherism. Godfathers in Nigeria is a subject that has not been given sufficient attention until recent coup that exposed Chief Chris Uba, former head of the political godfather, Dr. Chris Ngige among political criminals is behind the election or selection of most of our state governors and other legislators.
The above-mentioned crises and the problems of confidence in our political system offer an opportunity for advocates of new ideas. The barriers to true democratic participation in the political process are serious, landscaping and deeply ingrained. To the extent that our system of political democracy “works” in most instances it works, only for a very small group of the citizenry the “godfathers” (Ikejiani: 2006). Godfather in this sense means, that man who has enormous resources at his disposal with little or no credibility, while godfatherism is the process by which an individual establishes links with a given institutional hierarchy in the expectation of favoured treatment.
In Nigeria today, money has become the medium of political participation. A group of wealthy individuals (otherwise known as godfathers) has taken hold of our politics and administration and as a result, we are faced with what can be described as money-based politics and administration, thereby resulting to money -biased policies. It is the individuals and interest groups with money that invest in political office holders and use their money to gain access to elected officials who wield so much power in our politics and administration today.
Over the years, while attention was diverted to the power and influence of the elected officials, the role played by individuals, group sponsors, and godfathers have received insufficient attention until recently.
According to Omatseye:
Adedibu and Uba are not the only godfathers staining the firmament of Nigerian politics. The perversions in Anambra and Oyo States may have hold our imagination hostage in more profound ways than we realize, but we should not forget that these men are symptoms of larger tendrils of evil in the land (http://hrw.org/reports:2007)
Furthermore, Omatseye tells us that:
Infact, like the thugs, the godfather is the main artery of Nigerian politics. He breeds in every local government area, traffics in lies and duplicity, intimidates, maims and murder (htt://hw.or/reports:2007). It should be noted that, the main tragedy of these godfathers is that they not only preside over fellow illiterates and semi-illiterates, but also many university graduates and the “so called sophisticated persons” in our society are all under their thrall. Hence “the metaphor for folly” is that the godfathers in Nigerian politics and administration determines whether we get the right person or not in various positions. (http://hrw.org/reports:2007)
It should be noted that the primary aim of godfathers is the development of self and not the electorate, community or nation. The godfather maintains a parasitic and selfish relationship with his godson and community, not only is the interests of the godson and community abandoned in fulfillment of those of the godfather but the godson and community are coerced to work and make sacrifices toward the realization of the supreme interest of the godfather. (Onwuzuruigbo: 2007). This form of godfatherism is oppressive malevolent and has found expression in the realm of modern politics, governance and administration in Nigeria. Thus, the emergent notion of godfatherism in politics, administration and elections portrayed the political godfather as a mercenary politician who is willing to provide mentorship to his godson to the extent that the latter could be used to expand and consolidate the power base of the godfather as well as entrench the parasitic relationship the godfather maintains with the state (Odivwri: p.1).
The above category of godfathers are the likes of Chris Uba, the caucus leader in Anambra State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the man who has reduced godfatherism to an metaphor for capital investment in Anambra State. In his words “it is not just the governor and his deputy, there are also three senators, 10 members of House of Representatives and 30 members of the House of Assembly of the State, I sponsored them, I put them there”. This is the first time in the history of Anambra State that one single individual would be putting every political office holder in the state in power. (Odivwri: p.2).
In Oyo State, the situation is not different as LamidiAdedibu assumed the statute of a godfather during the tenure of Rashid Ladoja. Adedibu, according to reports was said to have submitted the names of 13 individuals to the governor to be made commissioners and the governor had planned to have 14 commissioners (htt://hrw.org/report:2007).
The experiences of godfatherism in both states have resulted in wanton destruction of goods and properties worth millions of Naira. In Anambra in particular, Uba hired and mobilized thugs and some members of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NAURTO) to cause pandemonium and insecurity in the state. In the process, government buildings and properties in Awka and Onitsha were destroyed. The Government House, Deputy Governor’s Office, Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission’s office etc were all looted and burnt by thugs (Odivwri:p2).
In Oyo State, Adedibu had stormed the NUJ press centre and supervised the beating of anti-Adedibu’s politicians and journalists. (Onwuzuruigbo, 2007).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There is a crisis of confidence in our elected officials, a loss of faith in our democratic government, an increasing frustration at government and an increasing frustration at the irrelevance of individual voters in our political process and administration due to the activities of “godfatherism”. Godfathers in Nigerian politics and administration determine at all elections who competes and who wins the elections and also who gets nominated or appointed to positions in government.
Godfatherism in Nigerian politics and administration has skewed our national priorities and the outcome of legislative decisions, and more also, it has made the National Assembly less representative and less responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians. The ordinary voters with ballots to give rather than money, are powerless and most times disenfranchised due to the activities of godfatherism. Another problem is that godfatherism, controls the outcome of our public elections, thereby otiosifying the entire democratization process. All these have resulted in the huge looting and wastage of the financial resource of Nigeria and Nigerians
Consequently, it is postulated that for Nigeria to move towards the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, the activities of godfatherism must be eliminated from our political system.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to examine theConcept of God-fatherism and its influence on Nigeria Politics and Politician while the following are the specific objectives:
- To examine the influence of godfatherism on Nigerian politics.
- To determine the factors that promotes godfatherism in the Nigerian politics.
- To examine the effect of godfatherism on Nigerian politicians.
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the influence of godfatherism on Nigerian politics?
- What are the factors that promotes godfatherism in the Nigerian politics?
- What is the effect of godfatherism on Nigerian politicians?
- HO: There is no significant relationship between godfatherism and development in the Nigeria politics
- HA: There is significant relationship between godfatherism and development in the Nigeria politics
1.6 Significance of the Study
The following are the significance of this study:
The results from this study will educate the political stakeholders in Nigeria and the general public on the influence of godfatherism on the politics, politicians and general development. It will also enlightens on the factors that promotes godfatherism.
This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study will cover the extent of concept of God-fatherism and its influence on Nigeria Politics and Politician. The selected case study of the research were Oyo state and Anambra state.
1.8 Limitation of Study
Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection.
The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work
Conclusion and Recommendation
There is the need for an increased confidence in our elected officials, and our faith in the democratic governance of Nigeria should also increase. People should be allowed to vote for their preferred candidates during elections without fear caused by thugs who are instrument of godfatherism. This can be achieved through the elimination of godfathers. A good example of this is the case of Comrade Adams Oshiomole of Action Congress Party of Nigeria who contested the governorship election in Edo State of Nigeria without any godfather backing him.
Unfortunately, godfathers in the opposing party in collaboration with the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), declared Prof. O. Osunbor as the winner of the April 14, 2007 governorship election in the State. Comrade Oshiomole took the matter to the Election Tribunal that found him to be the legitimate winner of the election. Prof. Osunbor appealed against the judgment of the Election Tribunal. The Court of Appeal on the 11th November, 2008 upheld the judgment of the Election Tribunal by declaring Comrade Oshiomole as the winner of the governorship election. The people rejoiced overwhelmingly because, for once, their votes counted. Consequently, Comrade Oshiomole was sworn in as the Executive Governor of Edo State on the 12th November, 2008 as the Peoples’ Governor and the godfathers in the opposing party were put to shame. However, it is pertinent to state that this is one case out of 36 cases.
Finally, there should be reform of the electoral system in Nigeria to allow for the genuine use of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), as well as allowing private candidates who are patriotic, selfless and credible to contest elections in Nigeria.
As a forward and out of the present grip of the Nigerian Politics and Administration by the godfathers, the following recommendations are proffered:
- A legislation is needed to aid the setting up of a regulatory body, which will be in charge of administration and enforcement of reforms against godfatherism and private money contributions to elections in the country.
- A stable environment should be established and maintained in order to provide political recruitment, promotion, nomination, election and appointment systems that will provide men and women the same options and opportunities.
- Since it is the duty of political sociologists and political scientists to proffer explanations to political phenomena, it is the duty of politicians and political leaders to apply the explanations in responding to political issues. It is, therefore, incumbent on Nigerian political leaders to device mechanism of making political godfatherism much less attractive and discouraging to intending political aspirants from subjecting their political ambitions and fortunes to the dictates of political godfathers.
- Political parties as a matter of urgency should henceforth stop the discrimination against women in their nomination process, recruitment and appointment into contestable positions.
- The social, economic, social-structural position of women, financial dependency or limited financial means should be urgently addressed in other to create a smooth sail for women to effectively participate in electioneering process.
- Development has eluded Nigerians for so long, political party reforms and electoral financing have not been tackled head-on, and for any change to be achieved in the fight against godfatherism, these issues must be looked at from the perspective of creating a political system that would truly be fair and equitable in its dispositions.
- Political Parties should be made to perform their functions of: (1) political recruitment, (2) interest articulation; (3) interest aggregation; (4) political socialization, and (5) political education of Nigerians in order to create room for democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
- Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), which are presently instruments of selective justice, should be strengthened legislatively to totally eradicate and prosecute individuals indulging in corrupt practices who through these various corrupt practices enrich themselves, thereby assuming the position of godfathers, because they will now have the resources to do and un-do
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