By Yahyah Habib
Is there anyway we can talk about politics in Nigeria without talking about the impact of godfathers? In fact godfatherism appears to be as important as seeking for good candidates.
With the recent political happenings in Nigeria, for instance the political phenomena in Kwara state in the last election which eroded the Kwara number one political godfather and the last Saturday election in Edo state that embarrassed the self acclaimed godfather in the state, can we say we have completely eliminated the influence of godfatherism in our political system?
Definitely, with the way our politics is designed and structured, we cannot eliminate godfatherism completely. It is part of the system, how many candidates can afford the cost of electioneering? How many of them have the popularity to win just a single polling unit? And how many of them have good track records to win the heart of the people? This is where godfather comes to play.
Not all aspirants to political offices have the huge financial resources necessary to compete in the country’s expensive, violent and corrupt political system—especially if they do not enjoy control over public resources to begin with. As a result, in many parts of Nigeria, successful candidates are often those who are “sponsored” by wealthy and powerful individuals known in Nigerian argot as political godfather.
WHO ARE THE GODFATHERS?
Godfathers are not just financiers of political campaigns, rather they are individuals whose power springs not just from wealth but from their ability to deploy violence to manipulate national, state or local political systems in support of the politicians they sponsor. How many of us still remember the late Lamidi Adedibu,the godfather that could installed and unistalled any political office older through violence in Oyo state?. The Lagos state landlord is still very much alive deciding the political fate of all Lagosians.
Most godfathers are former or serving officials using public funds to sponsor lower level officials and in return for substantial degree of control over the governments they help bring into being—not in order to shape government policy, but to extract direct financial “returns” in the form of government resources embezzle by their protégés or lucrative government contracts awarded to them as further opportunities for graft.
Godfathers also require their sponsored politicians to use government institutions to generate patronage for some of his other protégé.
Most governors, ministers and other political leaders rallying round a particular politician during election are godfathers, all their support comes with a price tag.
THE EFFECT OF GODFATHERISM IN OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM.
Godfatherism is an ideology which denude the people of their fundamental human rights of not benefiting from the dividends of democracy. It has completely changed our political system from a civil engagement to an enterprise where only the moneybags are beneficiaries; these godfathers rely on their wealth whereby they sponsor candidates of their choice because of their influence.
Godfatherism deprive people from electing the candidates of their choice as most of them may not even make through their parties primary. It breeds all forms of corruption as the sponsored candidate will have to place the interest of the godfather above the interest of the masses.
The question begging for answer is how do we completely eradicate godfather from our political system? Godfather breeds violence, corruption, nepotism and favoritism which are cancerous to the development of our state and the nation at large.
Godfathers are still very much around in Kwara state political order, only the actors have changed and their influence is still very strong in the governance of the state.
For our political system to be rid of godfatherism, there is a need to reduce the cost of electioneering for aspirants so as to eliminate the financier role of godfathers, encourage the involvement of civil societies to make election campaigns issue based and eliminate the need for thuggery, provide level playing ground for candidates to air their manifestoes and encourage voters education in order to reduce godfathers to spectators in our political system.
May God help us the truth to know….