Nigerian politics and extinction of godfatherism


By Alabidun Shuaib Abdulrahman

Globally, politics is dynamic, they say. But it seems, it is more dynamical in Nigeria, considering the sequence of political happenings since the return to democratic rule in 1999.

The tempo of playing politics of godfatherism, in recent times, especially by political elites and those who are opportuned to be at decision making helms for the country, is ‘fast and furious’.

Known as Africa’s largest economy and battling for stability in its diversity, Nigeria has had a fair share of been described as a nation not living its full its potential, and its brand of politics riddled by godfatherism has been identified as a cause.

Unlike in a saner clime where godfathers are more concerned to regulate public policies in favour of the citizens, Nigerian politicians have proven to be after how they can appropriate government’s contracts, political-cum-public appointments and plundering the coffers of the state. Politics in Nigeria has also been made very expensive beyond the reach of ordinary Nigerians.

The economic pressure put on people in the name of godfatherism is overwhelming, even as its effect on good leadership is another worry for many. In many countries where godfatherism is not practiced, politicians emerge and put the people’s interest first.

Often times, in our country, puppets are being put forward by godfathers to vie for political office, in order to feather their nest and build political empires at the expense of the people. This, no doubt, stalls national development and growth.

Meanwhile, sometimes, it does lead to dirty squambles and bitter politicking between the godfathers and godsons. The refusal of a godson to listen to his godfather has always led to bad administration, this can be seen in the case of Godwin Obaseki and Adams Oshiomole of Edo state.

Before the Edo State gubernatorial election that was conducted in September, there were debates about the effect of its outcome on godfatherism.

The build-up to the election was painted with lots of arguments on who will emerge winner. This came especially after Adams Oshiomole, the immediate past National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who is also a former governor of the state clearly supported another candidate other than the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, who he did all possibilities to install against all political odds to be his successor in the year 2016. All was well then. The relationship was sweet, not until recent when it becomes sour. They fell out with one another and became political adversaries.

It all become tug of war and banter competition but at the end, the voice of the citizens prevailed. Obaseki was voted in again. The beginning of a new era was established.

Like it was witnessed in Edo, the waves against godfatherism have swept many acclaimed lord of politics of their dominance and left them with nothing. Many become completely irrelevant, while some are still holding to the last stroke for survival.

Earlier in 2019, in Kwara State, the reign of godfatherism that spanned for like four decades was ended through an inspired political revolution called O to ge (Enough is enough). The Saraki dynasty which was established by Dr. Sola Saraki held sway for a very long time. A mere picture of Saraki in any poster was a sure bet to emerge, not minding the candidate’s competence, eligibility, level of education among other needed criteria.

It continued till his demise in 2012, and was sustained by the czar of the dynasty, the immediate past Senate President of Nigeria, Bukola Saraki. Unfortunately, Bukola Saraki lost his reelection as a senator and all his sponsored candidates for various political offices lost unprecedentedly too. The defeat, indeed, was historical which led to political oblivion of the dynasty.

Also, in Oyo state, the election that ushered in the incumbent Governor, Seyi Makinde has proven that when the people stand against something, godfatherism cannot stop them. Before, it has always been Adedibus, Ladojas amongst other political bigwigs in the state. Isiaka Abiola Adeyemi Ajimobi later took the baton of leadership and ruled for an uninterrupted eight years.

This, is said to be unprecedented as no Governor has ever been voted in for two terms in the state. He was lucky, they say. Unfortunately, he lost the goodwill when he insisted on anointing a candidate to succeed him. It was seen as an affront. The candidate lost and he also lost his senatorial bid.

In Ogun State, former Governor, Ibikunle Amosun failed in his attempt to install a successor. The same thing happened in Imo State, where Rochas Okorocha was prevented from installing his son-in-law as the successor.

Importantly too, the just concluded gubernatorial election in Ondo state has lend credence to the fading nature of godfatherism. Rotimi Akeredolu is popular for his spats with godfathers. He campaigned through the nook and cranny of the state, under the sun and in the rain, in the day and night to meet and convinced the electorates (the supposed godfathers) on his plans when emerge. He eventually emerged. No one ever came out to be the “bankroller” of the campaign. Neither did any “leader of democrats” surface nor any political leaders.

Interestingly, too, the likes of the acclaimed trio Nigeria’s godfathers – former president Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalam Abubakar were rendered powerless in 2019.

From what we have seen so far in the past few years, it is obvious that the business of godfatherism is going to extinction. It cannot last. Any acclaimed godfather in the country is only operating on extra time. Sooner or later, the final whistle would be blown.

However, the case of Lagos State where Bola Tinubu has been the one who is the godfather to successive governors is a matter of time. Whether this will continue beyond 2023 will be determined by time, because indeed, it is bad time for godfathers in Nigeria.

Alabidun is a Journalist. He wrote from Wuye, Abuja and can be reached via [email protected]


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