Godfatherism And Political Conflict In Nigeria: An Opinion Survey Of Voters

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Godfatherism And Political Conflict In Nigeria: An Opinion Survey Of Voters


Godfatherism has become an attribute in modern day Nigerian politics which could either foster democratic stability or retard democratic progress.

This study hopes to bring to a clearer understanding, the nature and prevailing characteristics of godfather/godson relationship, the dimension it has assumed in recent times and how it has shaped and influenced the adult citizenry in the country.

In order to achieve this objective, secondary data was applied to get a concrete information on the damaging dimension that godfatherism has taken. The problems were observed and it shows that there is high degree of political apathyism among the Nigerian people who fell that their vote does not count. Even those with political interest, now conclude that it is who the godfather wants that actually gets into office. This has gradually affected political participation.

From the study, it is recommended that the evil of godfatherism need to be greatly tackled by all and sundry, particularly, the government, and civil society in order to ensure adequate political participation by Nigerians.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The human race will never see the end of troubles until political power is entrusted to the lover of wisdom “Plato Republic”. My first approach to the challenge of this topic, is that we have no choice but to seed to return to the basic context in which Nigerians see the godfather or the conflicts as a segment of the political process as well as the figure, standing against the intellectual extrapolations originating in, and also sustained by, the media.

Politics as a concept when considered against its definition by David Easton, could be said to have been in existence as early as any grouping or organization of people which is formal or sometimes when informal. The Eastonian definition posits that politics is the “authoritative allocation of scare values”. This definition could also be viewed from the point of struggle for the political power will to authoritatively allocates these values through the point of influencing the decisions of who gets what, when and how and finally climaxing at the contestation for the voice of veto on the implementation of the decisions taken.

However, from the above brief overview of the concept of politics would reveal some key factors, the values of resources available to be shared amongst members of the scarce and cannot sufficiently satisfy the needs of every member of the group. This is why there is need for an authority which will decide on the allocation of these scarce resources supposedly in accordance with priority of importance. Another factor to be printed out is that since the decision of ‘what’ anyone would get from the system resides at the points of who makes up the authority of allocation, there is therefore clashes and disagreements at these decisions points.

If the two above factors are aggregated, it would become clear that the political process is one that can be figuratively termed, WAR. And if all these conflicts cannot be amicably resolved by way of resolutions, then the system is at a point of crisis.

The trend of ‘political godfatherism’ which in turn is derived from the maker or sustainers of an aspect of reality, a people to whom great importance is attached. We can then see that there is a relationship between godfather and god-child; godchild being a child for whom one takes responsibility by making promises to help grow in a sphere of life, and god-fatherism has become one of the greatest problem facing the Nigerian political system. It leads to corruption because you have to make returns (he that soweth bountifully, reapeth bountifully). The holder of the political position becomes a stooge to his godfather because he that pays the piper dictates the tune. By the time the godson refuse to meet their (godfathers) demand, it is eventually impeachment from political offices (what a man soweth, that he reap).

In the Nigeria fourth republic dispensation (1999 till date) in question, Anenih – Igbinedion, the Sariki – Lawal face-off, Nwobodo –Nnamani quagmire, Adebibu – Ladoja crisis, Uba – Ngige sage and all other godfather – protégé crisis in Nigeria do not only portend great danger to our democratic experiment, but also on the very essence and validity of our existence as a nation. The billions of naira expended by Nigerian godfathers for bankrolling the elections of their godsons, have totally monetized elections in Nigeria, which automatically disqualifies men of honour, character and integrity from holding elected public positions. Without doubt, the phenomenon has assumed this bizarre from since the enthronement of Nigeria civil rule on May 29, 1999. it started with the acrimony that existed between chief Anthony Anenih (godfather) and Lucky Igbinedion (protégé), the governor of Edo State between May 1999, to May 2003. Chief A. Anenih was purported to have endorsed the candidate of Lucky Igbinedion against other contenders as the governor of the state and also bankrolled his campaign expenses. But Lucky Igbinedion failed to reciprocate the gesture of Anenih by not giving him adequate government patronage and by acting in ways as loyal ‘godson’. The episode unfolded itself between Dr. Jim Nwobodo (godfather) and Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani (protégé), of Enugu State. Though the godson eventually subdued the godfather after a fierce struggle for the soul of the state. (Essence Library, Godfatherism in Nigeria Politics, 2004, p. 64).

However, during the second term of President Olusegun Obasanjo, the phenomenon of godfatherism becomes more alarming and dangerous to the survival of Nigeria’s fledging democracy. In Oyo State, South-West Nigeria, Adebidu (godfather) and Ladoja (protégé) battle for the soul of Oyo, has affected governance in the State and has reenacted political violence which it was famous for. At the long run, Ladoja won the State gubernatorial election, defeating the incumbent governor, Alhaji Lam Adeshina of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He was eventually sworn in on 29th May, 2003. When Adedibu decided to nominate 80 percent of the new commissioners and special advisers, Ladoja decided to act fast. He tricked Adedibu to go on a much – needed rest abroad and he made sure the speaker Moroof Olawale Atilola – led House of Assembly immediately approved his list of commissioners that was the end of the pact between Adedibu and Ladoja. The animosity between Adedibu and Ladoja was put into display during the electioneering campaign for the March 27, 2004 Local Government Elections. Ladoja was left to his devices until he was consumed through “impeachment” by the tiger he mounted in 2003. (Celetine Okafor, The Ladoja Impeachment, January 14, 2006).

Another important episode that unfold was that of Chris Uba (godfather) and Chris Ngige (protégé), of Anambra State. After the Oath –taking at the Okija shrine by the godson, he refused to play ball as arranged, looting, blood letting, gubernatorial abduction and judicial ambushes has become common place activities in Anambra State. Until the 16th March, 2006. The godson (Ngige) was finally removed from office. (Essence Library Godfatherism in Nigeria politics, 2004, p.65).

This crisis was very much reflective of how it has always been in the Nigerian polity as it concerns the political elites in the society. They are high and mighty and have the ability to have their way given any situation and almost every crisis that is observed is an after-effect of the musceflexing amongst them and amongst themselves.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

In the proceeding piece of introduction to this work, sufficient and hear exhaustive description and highlights of the various points and forms of manifestation political conflicts in Nigeria fourth republic, was attempted. This was done alongside with the brief overview of the concept “godfatherism” and “political conflicts” in any system, society or political grouping while also considering the frequency of these crisis situations in Nigeria as a nation. Haven looked at the forms of manifestation of the concept. It is proper that we attempt to state the problem(s) that created a sustaining environment for these crisis to blew and thrive.

The first problem could be spotted from the analysis of the above listed political conflicts saga, is that of widespread corruption which has a partner in unpatriotism. Quite consistently, Nigeria has been considered to be among the first five most corruption, fueled by greed for the concept of patriotism, that has resulted in the average Nigeria seeing governance and government as a vehicle for exploitation and self-aggrandizement. So while the people crave for a leadership of lift maintain mercantilism as their watchword and do everything in the hope of monetary gains and kickback. Anambra, Oyo, Enugu, Edo, etc. are still a classic example of this situation.

The second problem easily identifiable in the entire case scenario of the Oyo, Anambra, Kwara, Edo, Borno, etc political conflicts is “Elitism”. While the consideration of elitism as a problem would not be universally accepted.

Another problem is one that could be said to be an offshoot of the proceeding problem concept, political godfatherism. Political godfatherism is a concept that although is widely in practice in all parts of the world, have assumed disturbing and worrying dimensions and proportions in the nation today. It has become pertinent to have strong political godfathers before considering running for any elective office and even political appointments. Unfortunately, as it was in Anambra, Oyo, Edo, etc. most of these godfathers offer the services of their support only in anticipation of financial kickbacks that are alarmingly huge and extravagant and opposed to the expected norm of service to the people.

1.3 Hypothesis of the Study

The following hypothesis will be tested during the course of the work.

  1. The more monetized the political system is the more the strength of the god-fathers.
  2. The more prominent the activities of the god-fathers, the higher the possibility of political instability.
  3. The more elected officers depend on god-fathers, the more impoverished the masses would be.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

  1. To attempt a disclosure of the Godfatherism and effects of political conflicts by examining the various identifiable causes and effects of Edo State conflict in Nigeria fourth republic.
  2. To firmly establish the fact that political conflicts had become Nigeria’s consistent bedfellow, with a vivid examination of Edo State Government crisis.
  3. And finally, to profer a panacea to the identified causes of these political conflicts in order to prevent a continuance of its sporadic frequency in Nigeria.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The essence of this study is self-explaining in the presentation of the various facts that constitute the crisis of Edo State in question. This study seeks to provide us with detailed account of these state crisis and indepth and exhaustive (as much as possible) analysis of the various factors that comes into play in the saga. This is in the view to finding a lasting solution and thus preventing a reoccurrence of the anomaly in the Nigerian polity.

It is also not in doubt that other scholars could further explore this area of research, just like a few others have done before me, using this work/study as a launch pad. This could be by lending strength and support to some of the ideas or hypothesis that this work seeks to propagate. If could also be by improving in some or all of the errors that I may have unavoidably made in the course of this research. All of these would aid in navigating observers and future researcher of this topic of study, towards the best stock of intellectually analytic compilation on the topic. The end of all these would in no doubt be useful in preventing a future repetition of the errors that are presently a bane on our development in present day.

Finally, it is also noted that this work could be considered as an addition to the bulk of academic and intellectual endeavours and submissions available on this topic and on related topics, particularly in Nigeria. In the final analysis, this work would be seen as another beam of light thrown in the direction of various political upheavals that has bedevilled the country especially in recent times.

1.6 Scope of the Study

Although the problem of political conflicts is one that is universally acknowledged and pondered upon, the scope of this particular research work would be limited to Edo State in Nigeria and the time frame of study would be the fourth republic (1999 – till date).

The reason for this is because the happenings in the state reflect the trend that being perpetuated nationally. Moreover, any attempt at proffering a long lasting solution to the problem, it is hoped, would also have a bearing on the entire nation.

1.7 Methodology

The nature of this research makes it expedient that a secondary source of data is undertaken in order to provide relevant data, effort will be made to collect secondary sources in literature such as book, magazines, newspapers, journals, internet and other similar materials. The principal method used will be questionnaires which will be given to voters in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria – primary source

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendation

5.0 Introduction

This chapter summarizes the findings in investigation Godfatherism and political conflict in Nigeria: an opinion survey of voters using Oredo LGA in Edo State as a case study.

5.1 Summary of the Study

The focus of this study attempt to disclose Godfatherism and its effects on political conflicts by examining the case of Oredo LGA in Edo State conflict in Nigeria fourth republic. It established the fact that political conflicts had become Nigeria’s consistent bedfellow, with a vivid examination of Edo State Government crisis.The survey research design was used for the study. Convenience sampling was used in the study as the researcher purposively selected one hundred and thirty-seven (137) voters in Oredo LGA in Edo state who questionnaire was issued to. Responses elicited from the voters was validated and analyzed for the study. Hypothesis was tested using Chi-Square Statiscal tool.

5.2 Conclusion

Godfatherism is a hydra-headed monster in Nigerian politics. It will continue to threaten the practice of popular political participation in the country if no concrete efforts are made to deal with the problem. No nation can progress when her laws are not applicable to all, where some persons see themselves as sacred cows and can get away with any crime they commit.

Godfatherism and political conflict has become the dominant feature characterizing contemporary Nigerian politics. Their role as a political phenomenon has impacted on the body politics of country negative virtues which are now potential threat to the relatively new democracy in the country. It is obvious that godfatherism is not a new concept in human activities and without it no meaningful impact would be made in most endeavours of humanity including politics. However, the effects of godfatherism are glaring and starring people on the face. It has metamorphosed into hydra-headed monster, which if nothing is done is capable of truncating our hard earned democracy.

Political godfatherism is a syndrome in our political process, which does not promote leadership on merit or based on popular demand. To satisfy their selfish desire they are even ready to as simile dons of mafia organization to manipulate elections for their political sons, if successfully the result is corruption, waste of public fund bad governance. As long as they exist, good governance will continually elude the people, they are selfish, lawless, unconstitutional and politically irresponsible as to their modus operandi, subjugating public office holders like governors and council chairmen to their dictates.

Godfatherism and political conflict played prominent role in the political affairs of Nigeria, especially in the electoral system, to a large extent, truncated the true democratic system of administration. This is because a democratic system of government that does not allow for true democratic practices will not make foster a strong government or strong development for society.

5.3 Recommendation

The following recommendation was made from the findings of the study

  1. There is a need for political awareness campaigns to put an end or to minimize political Godfatherism in the state.
  2. All elective positions in Nigeria context should be made unappealing. The impression of paying huge allowances and salaries to elected leaders should be stopped, this is to discourage the godfathers and those politicians that are contesting for money sake.
  3. All political parties should categorically specify time and venues for the primary election to avoid confusion and misleading of the electorates or the voters.
  4. Political godfatherism should be cast off and reinforced democratic institution to evade from the politics of godfatherism of central government policies and programmes in order to sensitize the citizens on the importance of contributing in the election, and citizen awareness should arise on demanding a good response from the ruling class.
  5. Godfatherism should not be treated as a party affair, but should be offered political, social and legal treatment by the government and the stakeholders in the state. • Power of incumbency should be restricted by employing provisional government in place of incumbent President, Governor and Local Government Chairmen shortly before the commencement of the next elections campaign. This will curb the practice whereby the public office holders supervise over the elections in which they are contesting and conspire with godfathers to rig the election results.
  6. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should adopt the use of electronic voting for all elections in the country to curtail electoral scam this will reduce the elections rigging and will as well encourages the interested aspirants to vie for any position of their choice. • All political parties should adopt the principles of direct primary elections at all level this would give room for every interested citizen to contest and participate in politics. • All political party should reduce the price of nomination or contesting forms to a reasonable and affordable amount, this would create an avenue for the masses to contest in their various constituencies, local government, state as well as the federal level.
  7. There is the need for increased confidence in the duly elected officials and increase faith in the democratization process.

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