By Emmanuel Egbuchinem
Contemporary Nigerian political terrain is currently being polarized with the issue of Godfatherism, a situation where an individual or a group of persons act as godparents to mentor, market and sponsor the political aspirations of their groomed candidates in using everything at their disposal to enable him attain power after which he would be subjected to dance to their dictates and decisions.
Based on the above, Ika Mirror Newspaper reporter on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, went round Boji Boji Metropolis to get the views of residents on whether Godfatherism is a blessing or curse to Nigerian politics.
Here are the contributions of some of the respondents who spoke on the issue.
Mr. Emmanuel Uzor, a Businessman, said “The issue of Godfatherism in Nigerian politics is quite disturbing, I understand the term Godfatherism as a process where a man controls or support another man to ascend a particular post, he also dictates for the man what to do, in most times needless pressures are mounted on the said person; in fact it is a dangerous development. Honestly, I do not believe that as far as Nigerian politics is concerned that a man can single handedly get himself to power without the help of others, there must be a form of assistance either financially, morally and otherwise. However, if such assistance distract the attention of the elected politician from his duties to the masses and he decides to dance to the wimps and caprices of his political godfather, such scenario is dangerous and disastrous. Godfatherism has been a very bad menace and disaster to Nigerian politics; unless something drastic is done to curb it, Nigerian democracy will be a laughing stalk. Although, politics is a game of numbers, there is no way a person can be elected to power without the help of others, there must be a bargain, but not at the detriment of the Nigerian populace”.
Mr. Anthony Nwabianke, a Security Practitioner, said “Actually, with the way Godfatherism is now, it has become a curse to Nigerian democracy. The issue of Godfatherism should have been a thing of mentorship, that is a situation where somebody who has some wealth of experience will pick up an upcoming candidate who must have gotten his mentorship, release him to go and put to practice what he has acquired; but what we are seeing today in Nigeria is that the so called Godfathers will mentor their candidates and after succeeding in putting them in power, they will not allow such persons to exercise their authority instead they want to be there in the name of that their chosen candidate, and this has created a lot of damages to our democracy. Take for example, the issue of Governor T. A. Orji and former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu; the later brought Governor T. A. Orji, with the aim of controlling him, which he vehemently refused because he has his own experience; such instance also played out in Lagos State between Senator Bola Tinubu and Governor Ambode, the immediate past Governor of Lagos State; Tinubu, actually came up with his wealth of experience in trying to nurture Ambode, but never wanted Ambode, to go for a second tenure; he wanted to be ruling Lagos State in the name of Ambode, and this have created a very big problem in that State. Coming to the current development in Edo State, Oshiomole haven tried all aspect of governance ought to have relaxed and give room to the younger ones to come up, but because of greed he never wanted any other person to have the same crown that he has gotten in Edo State, and that is the problem we are facing now; such selfish development if not properly controlled, its going to create a very big havoc to our democracy because it is moving from one state to the other. I am of the opinion that the youths of Nigeria should rise up and join hands together to collectively fight against Godfatherism in Nigerian politics”.
Mr. Ejime Roland Moseri, a Businessman, said “Godfatherism is a curse to Nigerian politics because when for instance I am a godfather, if I give you a position you cannot make decisions without me and any allocation or dividends that comes to you being a Governor or any position you are occupying must come to me first, I will decide what to do with the money and by the time I decides not to consult my godfather to take a decision, I will be regarded as a stubborn child to him; that is one of the reasons why Godfatherism is a curse. Imagine what happened in Lagos State between Ambode and Tinubu; presently look at the fierce battle between Oshiomole and Obaseki, they disqualified Obaseki a serving governor for not having a good result, where were was Oshiomole when he emerged as a governor for his first tenure? Because then you were his godfather you covered him and now after four years you are telling the world that he is not qualified and today June 16, 2020, in Tribune, a National Newspaper, Oshiomole was saying that Obaseki being an incumbent governor is not guaranteed of winning another election. Oshiomole is too infinitesimal to make such comment, he has opened the secret of all the APC leaders. However, the dangers of Godfatherism can only be corrected among themselves, they know what to do. According to the Holy Bible, He who knows how to do good and fails to do it, to him is a sin. Personally, I will advice the new breed politicians to agree with their godfathers before ascending elective positions, but after being elected to power, let them summon the courage to disgrace them; just as Oshiomole is being disgraced”.
Mr. Chuks, a Public Servant, said “More or less, I will say that Godfatherism in Nigerian politics is a curse, but the masses too are responsible for their problems, because the masses are not enlightened enough, they are ignorant that is why Godfatherism is existing in Nigeria; most of them do not read Newspapers and they don’t know their rights, that is why they fall prey to Godfatherism for political prowess. I will give you a case study with the issue of Obaseki, a Governor appeared before a panel for screening, they found his result defective; you said you have HSC you did not present the result before the panel, OK, you said you went to the University of Ibadan with Three Credits; that is ridiculous and look at what the party leaders are saying that they are victimizing him because of Godfatherism, again look at the result and the merit of that judgement”.
When asked by the reporter, if that was not the result Obaseki initially presented before being elected as governor for his first tenure; he responded that as at then, there was no awareness saying that “it was the case of the former elected Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State that made people to be aware, that is why they are now scrutinizing everything. Even the INEC Chairman was insulted because of the Bayelsa State issue; how can you be a Professor heading INEC and somebody who has a forged result will scale through your screening? That was why they decided and said No, to this”.
Mr. Eseka Peter, a Retired Educationist, said “Godfatherism is a curse to Nigerian politics because without you being my Godfather I cannot do anything, so whatever I want to do, you will not allow me to do it, you will want me to take decisions from you; which is very bad. How to correct it is what is currently happening in Edo State, Oshiomole wanted Obaseki to take directives from him, which is not good for democracy, such act is Godfatherism.
It is most unfortunate that Oshiomole who before he emerged as former Governor of Edo State repeated vowed that he was going to put an end to the issue of Godfatherism in Nigerian politics, but today he is the one fighting Obaseki for refusing to recognize him as his Godfather; what an irony”.
Mr. Okpala Nzekwe Emmanuel, a Student, said “Godfatherism is a curse to this country Nigeria, because most of the problems in our nation today emanated from the greed of the so called Godfathers, knowing that they do not give their elected candidates free hands to accomplish their promises during electioneering campaign to the citizens. It is highly absurd that on assumption of office the governor or an elected politician is bedeviled with the challenges of settling or dancing to the dictates of his Godfather. We have observed with keen interest that when some elected politicians assume office with good intentions, after being compelled to comply with the decisions of their godfathers they will derail from the initial intentions which he had in mind for the masses, thereby pleasing the Godfathers and displeasing the masses; a situation which is not good for our democracy. Godfatherism encourages corruption, hence for us to have sanity in our political environment we should abstain from aiding or abetting corruption in all ramifications. I am of the opinion that Godfatherism should be discouraged in all the states in Nigeria so that elected office holders can fully concentrate and work effectively with the resources at their disposal in providing the masses with the required infrastructures and social amenities needed in developing their states and improving the living conditions of the masses. With this in place, Nigeria would become one of the best countries in the world to live in because of the spate of rapid development that it will witness”.