Godfathers in Nigeria Ecosystem:
In every society, there is and must be a minority that rules over the rest of society, and this minority forms the political class or governing elite composed of those who occupy the posts of political command, etc. The idea behind godfatherism is synonymous with intermediary, mentoring, benevolence, and support, and sponsoring. Literarily, it is a good concept, some business elites tagged it, mentor. The excessive abuse by political handlers have bastardized the word, a god-father should be someone who will guide you to the right path. Nobody can vehemently say, he answers to nobody, there is always somebody somewhere that wedges an iota of influence on our decisions as humans.
Literally, the godfathers are kingmakers, bosses, mentors, and principals, while godsons are the beneficiaries and recipients of the legacy of godfathers. godfathers are people who have built unimaginable respect and followers in the community and possessed a well-organized political platform, and general acceptance from all and sundry godfathers have a huge grasp to determine both who get nominated to contest elections and who wins in a state. Those who get employed in the bureaucracy and those who get robust postings and deployments. There is no gainsaying that godfatherism is firmly established in all the scepter of Nigeria politics and bureaucracy. It has now come to be a guiding principle in the 21st Nigeria.
In the real sense, there is nothing wrong in having godfathers and godmothers, some business elites tagged it as mentors, in church settings, they are called elders, etc. Why the majority see godfatherism as a problem in Nigeria is the ‘Nigerian factor’ which ranges from corruption, poor policy implementation, and politics of balanced federalism, ethnicity, unwillingness, or inability of the supposed godsons and daughters to rise to the responsibility of their calling. Every nooks and cranny of Nigeria have a pinch of godfatherism reigning supremely in both political power transfer and recruitment process, especially in the bureaucracy. Looking at the academic settings, student unions, offices, social groups even international politics, in Yoruba parlance, they call it “Afobaje”. It just depends on what you tagged it as. There is hardly any state devoid of the existence and influence of godfathers, though the level of such influence varies.
Many godfathers in present-day Nigeria operates like the mafia by displaying similar violent scheming and aggressive politicking, coupled with manipulating devices of having their way by any means. They rely on the slogan, ‘the end justifies the means. In the first republic, godfathers were essentially benevolent and progressive because they did not abuse their status as godfathers by imposing frivolous demands on their godsons whom they provided employment or political space. They served as a huge reservoir of wisdom and experience to be consulted on the business of governance, the present crop of political godfathers.
In Nigeria’s present day, the emergence of godfatherism posed a great threat not only to good governance but also to the socio-economic stability of democratic governance. When public office holders would not be accountable to the people, who at any rate did not count in their elections into public office. Invariably, the loyalty of such public office holders would be tilted towards their godfathers and this in itself negates one of the critical attributes of democracy which is responsive and transparent government. This act has robbed the people of Nigeria the privilege to enjoy the dividends of democratic governance. Many godsons are loyal to the godfathers.
If the godson perchance exhibits a reluctance to dance to the tune of the godfathers, the removal is imminent. This is a case of Ambode in the last general election. Also, The present display of godfatherism between the incumbent governor of Edo state and the APC chairman. Nigeria has recorded many strained godfather and godson in the immediate past century, Ladoja, Adedibu and Alao Akala saga. Some godfathers have failed in recent times such as Ajimobi and Adelabu. However, Oyo Adedibu and Ajimobi’s case are rare. People have started to be conscious of this crop of godfathers in Nigeria. The trend is beginning to drift as social media has started to give people a voice but the trend of poverty in Nigeria is a handy tool for political godfathers to control the outcome of elections.