GODFATHERISM AND ELECTORAL POLITICS IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background of the Study
The Nigerian political process prior to the year 1999 has been dominated by military rule, but with the introduction of democratic rule after several years of political subjugation or hostage in the hands of the military, the political process seem to be under threat with the emergence of political mentors or godfathers of public office holders [godsons].These godfathers are rich and had so much political influence within their individual states and the country in general. They decide who become governor, legislator, local government chairman etc in their constituencies. They ensure that they get into political offices through whatever means whether legitimate or illegitimate, largely employing unconventional methods to achieve their aim of political relevance. They believe that every man has his price and would spend money to win the support of other people in the pursuance of their political interest; elections are rigged with falsification of electoral results to achieve their objective with members of the opposition suppressed or assassinated if becoming difficult to handle.
According to Adebanjo, (2004), the concept of godfatherism is firmly establishing itself as a guiding principle in contemporary Nigeria politics. Godfathers are generally defined as men who have the power personally to determine both who gets nominated to contest elections and who wins in the election. In the past, Nigerian society had fewer criminals that the judicial systems attempted to contend with in recent times, our judicial systems cannot contend with such because Nigerian society is building criminals at rapid pales in the late 20th and early 21st centuries through democratization and militarization practices, when the governing systems failed to deliver the other takes over.
Ajayi, (2005) asserted that, in democracy one way that regime is breeding criminals is through godfather’s, godfatherims is old fashion enterprise that circulates around nation with different names or headings for centuries. Godfathers in Nigeria is a topic that has not been given enough attention until recent coup that exposed Chief Chris Uba, estranged political Godfather of Chief Dr. Chris Ngige among political criminals that is behind elections or selection of most of our state governors and other law makers (Coker, 2004). Apparently it appears majority of our state governors are financed by such caliber of person and for those financed by their godfathers get into offices now have huge power in respective states. They assigned civil services and or political positions to who are not of the people but people of the private interest (Dangote, 2004).
However, Godfatherism has become a scary phenomenon in Nigerian politics. As rightly observed by Omotola (2007), Godfatherism in Nigeria, particularly in its current form and character, is distributive. Though it is a longstanding and deeply rooted feature of the cultural values of Nigerian society, where it is purely socio-economic in nature and mutually productive for both parties, its politicization would appear to have contributed to the criminalization of politics. For example, the Hausa have a well-institutionalized system where the godfather is known as “Maigida” (landlord or head of household). Godfathers reign across all spheres of the society: academics, legal, and religion environment.
Consequently, the impact of the godfathers on Nigeria’s general elections was unprecedented. Godfathers as those who have the security connections, extended local links, enormous financial weight to plot and determine the success of a power seeker at any level of a supposedly competitive politics has an institutionalized feature in Nigerian politics over the years, its contemporary manifestations suggest that it has assumed epidemic proportions, becoming one of the greatest threats to democratic consolidation in Nigeria (Omotola, 2007).
The recent activities of some Nigerian godfathers could be likened to attributes of mafianism; however, some still see the existence of godfathers as the balancer of power in a democracy. Akinola (2009) believes in the need to have a good-hearted individual (people’s hero) at the sole realm of absolute power, a godfather distributes power as he deems, and anoints who rules. But, godfatherism has taken a strange dimension in Nigeria’s political environment. It has become a menace pulling down the foundations of masses-driven governance, thereby denying Nigerians the much-deserved dividends of democracy. Therefore, it is against this backdrop that the researcher has been prompted to examine the issue of godfatherism and electorial politics in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Over the years, money and influence has been considered as the only determinant of an election in Nigeria political content, most politician join confraternity or go into feeble and illegal agreement with powerful rich mobile Nigeria before they could contest elections. Nigerians are therefore not happy with the abysmal performance of a large number of governors, legislators and local government council chairman; who unfortunately cannot be called to order as long as they remain in the good books of their political godfathers. This has translated into bad governance with the failure to socio-politically and economically transform our societies regardless of the huge amount often allocated to the various levels of government that have not been able to justify such government spending. As long as political sons continue to pay homage or remain loyal to their mentor and godfather their stay in office is guaranteed regard less of their performance or the people interest. Thus the several fighting between godfathers and their political sons that has occurred in several states of the federation becomes interesting.
There is now the cries of confidence between some state governors and their godfathers is spreading like a plague and the combatant are battling for the control of their states, in a manner that will qualify for a national disgrace while the people and government suffer this ugly development. Experience has, however, shown that the application of this concept has mostly resulted to democratic failures and disasters. From denial of electing credible candidates to imposition of mediocrity into political and appointive positions, and the whole experience has been that of pains, misery, penury, squalor and damnation arising from poor performance and poor service delivery among godsons.
1.3 Purpose of the study
The purpose of the study is to examine the concept of godfatherism and electorial politics in Nigeria. However, to achieve this broad objective, the researcher considers the following specific objectives;
(i) To determine the role of godfatherism as a guiding principle in contemporary Nigeria politics.
(ii) To understand the place of money and influence as a determinant of an election in Nigeria political content.
(iii) To evaluate the impact of godfathers on Nigeria’s General election.
(iv) To understand the relationship and contradictions between Political godfathers and governance.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were raised to guide the study.
(i) To what extent does godfatherism act as a guiding principle in contemporary Nigeria politics?
(ii) To what extent does money and influence serve as a determinant of an election in Nigeria political content?
(iii) To what extent does godfathers impact on Nigeria’s General elections?
(iv) What is the relationship and contradictions between Political godfathers and governance?
1.5 Research hypothesis
Ho1: There is no significant relationship between godfatherism and contemporary Nigeria politics
Ho2: There is no significant relationship between money and election in Nigeria political content
Ho3: There is no significant relationship between godfathers and Nigeria’s General elections
Ho4: There is no significant relationship between Political godfathers and governance.
1.6 Significance of the Study
A study of this nature is significant in many ways;
Law makers: the findings of this study will give lawmakersthe opportunity to review the electoral laws to the extent that offenders will not be spared no matter their position in the society will be duely punished, hence it will reduce the trend of godfathers and godson politics in Nigeria.
Policy formulators: Finding from this study will help policy makers to chart an effective policy direction that will influence and inculcate positive values in the Nigerian electoral politics.
The judiciary: The study will help thejudiciary put necessary machineries in place that will facilitate speedy delivery of justice in the elections petition tribunal with a good sense of responsibility void of any fear of favour.
Students: The study will of great importance as a literature base for student who intends to carry research on a related subject matter.
Finally, the findings of this study will lay a solid foundation to researchers to improve upon.
1.7 Delimitation of the Study
This study will be focused mainly on the influence of godfatherism in Nigeria electoral politics. The study will explore the concept of godfatherism as it connotes the invasion of the political candidates by discarnate powerful sponsor, tending to complete possession for the purpose of selfish gratification, the godfather is the political slave merchant while the godson is the political slave or slave boy or political article for sale. This study is to look at political godfatherism and its implication on the Nigerian political process. How political office holders are elected into public offices will be considered and to know why they do not perform particularly as they enjoy the support of their political mentors.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Godfather: is a man who promises to help a child and teach him or her values. And in another definition godfathers is said to be the head of a criminal organization or mafia group
Political: Connected with the governmentor public affairs of a country and its relation with other country.
Process: A series of natural developments or events that produce gradual change or a series of actions that someone takes in order to achieve a particular result.
Godson: A boy that a godparent promises to help and to teach Christian values.