THE GROWING INFLUENCE OF GODFATHERISM
Godfatherism is a common feature of the current political dispensation. It is a system where some political neophytes, political kindergartens, people with relative or no political experience, are adopted, nurtured and imposed on the people, or on the electorate by some powerful cabals, some money bags, some established politicians, as their elected representatives.
It is a system where some powerful individuals in society usurp the democratic right of the people to choose those who will lead them, by singlehandedly impose their preferred candidates on them.
The godfathers are very powerful people, very influential people in society. They may be very few in number, less than 0.001 percent of the population, but they control the polity, they determine everything that goes on in society, what happens in the country generally, who gets what, and who does not get anything.
The godfathers parcel out privileges, political positions, etc., to people, not according to their ability, competence, intelligence, education, etc., but according to their closeness to the aspiring politicians, their loyalty, how much they are able to put on the table, and their readiness to “play ball”.
The godfathers go for people they believe are pliable, those they believe are willing tools, those who could be easily manipulated, who would readily dance to their tune, and who are willing to genuflect before them, to lie on the floor and lick their boots, those willing or ready to die on their behalf, etc.
Since human mind is deceptive, very cunning, and can hardly be trusted, the godfathers will do everything possible to test the loyalty of their yet to be adopted political godsons, the aspiring politicians. They will metaphorically put them into the furnace, to burn them thoroughly like gold, and have them refined. They will force them to sign their resignation papers in advance, and then take them to the “Okija Shrine”, to swear the oath of absolute loyalty!
After these series of tests, after the godfathers must have convinced themselves of the absolute loyalty of their godsons, and after they must have been properly “settled”, they will arrange for “stakeholders” meetings, conventions or congresses, which will consist mainly of their lackeys, their trusted allies, where their godsons will be presented to the people for endorsement.
It will be a “kangaroo” meeting or congress as all those likely to oppose their candidates will be shut out, or frustrated out of the system, one way or the other. A carefully prepared list will be circulated or given to those at the meeting to vote for, which they must necessarily comply with.
The godfathers would thereby have succeeded to impose their godsons on the people, while they shut out more able and competent people who are better equipped for the job. After that, they will tell the world that the people have spoken, and that democracy is working in Nigeria. We will hail them.
Paradoxically, sooner than later, for reasons they will not tell us, the romance, the cordial relationship between the political godfathers and their political godsons will nosedive, become awry, or hit the rock. They will then begin to go their different ways, become political enemies, to fight themselves.
In 1999, the military cabal, serving and retired, brought out retired General Olusegun Obasanjo from prison and imposed him on Nigerians as President, in preference to Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who was clearly the choice of the people.
Not long after, Obasanjo fell out with those that put him in power, including his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, who practically had bankrolled his election campaign, at a time Obasanjo was financially down, having not more than N20,000 in his bank account.
When Obasanjo had served out his term, he singlehandedly picked the ailing Umaru Yar’Adua, and his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, and imposed them on Nigerians. When Yar’Adua died, Obasanjo switched over to Jonathan, and after serving out Yar’Adua’s term, he insisted that Jonathan must go for a fresh tenure, contrary to PDP’s agreed North-South power rotation arrangement.
A short time later, Obasanjo fell out with Jonathan and then teamed up with other retired Generals and civilian politicians to impose General Muhammadu Buhari on Nigerians. Today, Obasanjo and co. no longer see eye to eye with Buhari. He fought against his reelection, but failed.
Elsewhere, in other parts of the country, the same pattern of growing influence of godfathers, who disregard the democratic process to impose candidates on the people equally persists. Later, the godfather and their godson will begin to fight themselves.
The tragedy that recently befell the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers and Zamfara States, where all the party’s candidates in the two states were disqualified, is a fallout of this imposition of candidates by the godfathers, who prevented other party members from participating in the selection of those who will govern them.
Twenty years of democracy in Nigeria, our politicians have refused to make the system participatory. They have made it the exclusive right of some few privileged individuals who will corner everything to their advantage, who will deprive the vast majority of people the opportunity to exercise their democratic right, a say in who represents them. And they call it democracy!