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Introduction Godfatherism as stated in the previous chapter is a
dominant feature characterizing contemporary politics. Using Nigeria’s fourth
republic as a reference point, this chapter examines the efforts and works of
previous researchers and authors when considering the issues of Godfatherism as
it relates to the Nigerian democracy and politics.Literrature ReviewThe Nigeria Political Process prior to the 1999 democratic
rule has been dominated by military dictatorship after several year of
political subjugation or hostage in the hand of military rulers, the political
process seem to be under threat by the emergence of political gladiators.1 Oluloyo,
V. (2014) stated that the phenomena can
be generally seen as a practice which entails the sustenance of a kind of
social and political relationships that exist between the subordinate and the
superior for the propagation and fulfillment of certain roles, desires and interactions
which binds both together or in which both have equal stake but with the
superior determining what the subordinate gets in the process just as Williams, I. (2004) expressed,
in the realm of politics, godfatherism portrays a
power-based relationship. For instance, as emphasized by several scholars and
researchers of this topic, the implicit feature is godfatherism in power. Ukhun, C.E. (2004)  stated that, power is the determinant or fundamental
feature of godfatherism and the power could be economic, political, spiritual,
voodoo etc. , he also sees Godfatherism as a power relationship often skewed in
favour of the godfather who can afford to lord it over the godson, if, he so wishes
owing to his super ordinate influence and affluence. The godfather settles to
dictate “who gets what, when and how” in the distribution of scarce resources
after the elections have been contested and won. Chukwuma,
O. (2008) the role of godfathers therefore
goes beyond the elections of one having the abilities and capabilities to
manipulate the electoral process to the favour of his chosen godson. Kolawole,
D. (2004) Political godfatherism also
indicates sponsorship of contestants in an election by a wealthy and
influential individual or group of who in return expects protection and other
forms of reward and privileges. Researchers therefore, see godfatherism as “an
institution of political king making through which certain political office holders
of tenuous political clout come into power”. Hence, it is a relationship based
on political surrogacy involving financial and moral assistance where the
godfather is the major donor and the godson the primary receiver. Godfatherism,
in its simple form is a term used to describe the relationship between a
godfather and godson. Godfathers are slightly different from mafia and election
sponsors. For Bala J., Sonni G. (1987).Mafianism in politics consist of formidable powerful
blocs that have tremendous influence in the society. It comprises of coalition
of strong socio-economic and political elites that share similar value system,
and under an organized structure. In most cases, there are always godfathers
who control the affairs of the mafia. Godfathers are powerful individuals who
determine “who, what, when and how” in the corridors of power. Onubi,
A. (2002), Many godfathers in the
present-day Nigeria operates like the mafia by displaying similar violent
scheming and aggressive campaigns coupled with manipulating devices of having their
way by any means, on bear as Machiavelli expressed- “the ends justify the
means”. Election sponsors, on the other hand are rich individuals that
volunteer to donate generously towards the electoral success of a party or
sponsor candidates during election. He might be less bothered about the active
politics or supervision of government business, but expects friendly policies
from government. Nigeria’s godfathers in the 21st century sponsors election, but
not all election sponsors are godfathers. Godfathers reign across all spheres
of the society: academics, legal, and religion environment. The relationship
between godfather and godson in politics claims the monopolistic use of the
term godfatherism and makes it political. Godfatherism thrives across the
globe. There is hardly any state devoid of the existence and influence of godfathers,
though the level of such influence varies. Fawole
A. (2001), in other advanced
societies, group influence and endorsement could be more valuable than a
powerful individual and it is almost impossible to prevent this sought of
influence.  Origin of
GodfatherismAccording to Azeez, K. (2014), godfatherism in Nigeria can be said to have stermed
out of the practice of Christians adopting godparents for their newborns so as
to help raise them to become God fearing and law-abiding adults.  Many people had Godparents that helped to
shape their moral development and some whose parents died early were raised by
their godfathers. Robin, U (2010) on his part created
traced the origin of godfatherism in politics to the American
city of Chicago of  the pre-world war II
era, ‘when the heads of criminal gangs sponsored politicians in elections, manipulated
the results to get them elected and, in turn, received protection and contracts
from their political godsons”. In Nigeria, as the records and works of various
authors stand to show, godfatherism in the Nigerian bureaucracy and partisan
politics dates back to the first republic when leaders of the three main
political parties Northern Peoples Congress (“NPC”),The accounts by Egboh,
E (2009) postulate that the Action Group
(“AG”) and National Congress of Nigerian Citizens (“NCNC”) carefully and
meticulously cultivated godsons that they were convinced would advance the well
being of the citizens. In his work “Niger Delta Youth
Reseiveness and Socio Economic Development of Nigeria”, Egboh, E. stated that Sir, Ahmadu Bello of the NPC, Dr, Nnamdi Azikiwe of
the NCNC and Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the AG were motivated not to use godsons
as surrogates to promote parochial interests, but to promote the developmental
aspirations of the people. Now comparing the aforestated idea of godfatherism
to the crop of political godfathers that we have today, it is manifestly clear
that the first generation 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 as it is the case today.  These first generation godfathers were a reservoir of
wisdom and experience to be consulted at anytime and freely on the business of
governance. Egbor went on to state that in a relative sense, the first
generation godfathers were drawn by community sense of interest in seeking to
influence political selection and employment into the public bureaucracy or
seeking to influence the electorates to vote for some candidates of their
choice. It was enough satisfaction for them that they wielded tremendous
influence in the society and this inevitably generated a groundswell of
goodwill and reverence for them as their views on political issues were
scarcely contested in their respective regions of the Country.  To Ekezie, N (2009) Corroborating the benevolence of the first generation
godfathers and  understanding the role of
politics as well as the military in an evolving country, Sir, Ahmadu Bello
placed his godchildren in viable institutions and the rewards to the Northern
Nigeria are today self-evidence; Chief Obafemi Awolowo was godfather to a large
number of today’s Yoruba intelligentsia that have applied his teachings for the
benefit of their region; also within the Ibo community, the late Sir Odumegwu
Ojukwu, was godfather to Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who rose to become the first
Premier of the old Eastern Region and later emerged the first President of
Nigeria under the defunct parliamentary arrangement.  Characteristics
of Godfathers        1.      Wealth: By a general consensus, wealth happens to be a major
characteristic of godfather.  Political
godfathers act as the financial backbone for politicians who want to occupy
political offices at all cost. This is considering the fact the fact that the
monies needed for the electoral process lf purchasing nomination tickets,
campaign and elections cannot be provided by the aspirant personally, hence the
need to run to the money bags of the political party for deliverance.
Political offices were reserved for the highest
bidders. However, persons who are getting rich by the sweat of their labour are
generally not interested in elective political offices, especially if they have
to burn their hard earned wealth to achieve such offices. On the other-hand Lipset, S.M. states that those
who are stupendously rich and subsequently become interested in elective
political offices, usually make their money through unprincipled behaviour in
the dirty, dark alleys of the political process. Such persons can buy political
offices but lack the proper actions, sound and correct principles of personal
character to lead the country to where it should aspire.2  2.      Affluence: Just like wealth, politics requires a lot of
“connections” and any aspirant who does not have any form of connections will
end up at the tail of the results sheets on election days. In this light also,
for an individual to qualify as a godfather, he must be able to wield a wand of
affluence which will open doors for his godson. Lacking in this, such person is
not worthy to be called a godfather. Nigerians GodfathersIn preceeding paragraphs,
we examined the origin of godfatherism as well as the good intent of the
founding fathers of our democracy and civilization as Nigerians. One important
feature of that dispensation is the intention with which they practised
godfatherism: to ensure mentoring and positive progress in governance and
government. In the parlance of partisan
politics, godfathers offers to their protégés, leadership, ideas, expertise,
knowledge and wisdom which were of immense importance to the latter.These protégés acquired knowledge, wisdom, skills, and
experience from their godfathers. Using this image and goodwill of these great
men, the protégés won elections to become the succeeding generation of leaders
of the people. Their relationship was not dependent on money for the purchase
of people’s votes, manipulation of electoral process or electoral fraud. The
Comet (2003) reported, in all relationship between the
godfathers and protégés, the protégés were younger and the godfathers were more
intelligent.Times have however changed
and the concept of godfatherism in Nigeria has now evolved drastically and the
chain of command lengthened. A brief look at some historical recording of the
Nigerian godfathers may provide a view into this new concept of godfatherism. An account by Oluwole, S.B. (1992) of the years between 1999-2011 witnessed a lot of political intrigues, infringements,
lawlessness, enslavement and assassinations. It can be likened to the
period reminiscent of the ‘Hobbesian state of nature’. Following the sudden
death of Abacha on June8, 1998, the transition programme for the fourth Republic
began under the military leadership of General Abdusalam Abubakar who
spearheaded the arrangement for a multi party system. The major party that
wrestled power were, Alliance for Democracy (AD), All People’s
Party(APP),People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP produced Obasanjo who was
sworn in on May 29, 1999 as the civilian president of Nigeria’s fourth
republic. However, since the inception of this republic, series
of protracted ethno religious and political crisis have claimed many lives and
properties. These problems emanated from irrational behaviour of the political
elites, politics of division and politics devoid of political ideology. All
these combined created politics of assassination, decampment and public
protests. Akume, George (2004) wrote “the 2003 general elections were marred
by political manipulation due to the inordinate ambition of the emergent
political class that was desperate to secure and retain political power.” These situations contradicted the expectations that
both the rich and poor political parties should have equal electoral
opportunity to win elections. In contrast, The Weekly Trust (2003)  During the 2003 general elections, moneybags
instead of political ideology, directed political actions in political parties
and also influenced the political actions of many politicians. As a result the
presidential candidate of the two major political parties, APP and PDP
reportedly clinched their party tickets by stuffing the car booths of their
party delegates with Ghana must go bags full of money meant for political
manipulations. New Age (2004) In
addition, many donations were made to the PDP at a fund raising party for the
re-election of Obasanjo and Atiku,  Aliko
Dangote , Emeka Offor and other money bags donated billions of Naira to the
success of the elections.  It is this kind of donations that give godfathers
leeway to perpetuate their hegemonic tendencies, ideas and satanic principles
on the people. Campbell, John (2013) examined the 2007 elections and wrote about Obasanjo
as being faced with the prospect of being a weakling in his last year in
office; the constitution limited a presidency to two terms. There was a
potential that as a former president he might be held accountable for his
actions as a chief of state by a subsequent government that he did not control.
As he stated, Obasanjo would no longer enjoy the protection conferred on a
sitting president of constitutional immunity from civil and criminal
prosecution and president Obasanjo’s entourage at Aso Villa would be out in the
cold. To this end, Campbell wrote, there  were new challenges for the Nigerian body
politic and were the context in which plans A and B emerged. His plan A which
was the third term agenda, an inordinate ambition that never materialised,
turned virtually all states in Nigeria to chaos, and the country almost in
anarchy. Being the first president of this republic, coupled with his
antecedents of violence, it was not long before the issue of godfatherism rear
its ugly head in almost all geographical zones of the country. It is to some of
these states where godfatherism played a major role in impacting negatively, we
will consider in the course of this work.    Causes of Godfatherism We
consider the causes of godfatherism from these factors: a.       Povertyb.      Systemic
disorderc.       Ignoranced.      CorruptionPoverty

The incidence of poverty has a strong influence on the
emergence of those who regard themselves as godfathers and owners of
government. In this country Nigeria, greater percentage of our people are
poor and as such could not meet up with their basic needs so the godfather
now sees himself as a messiah who has come to alleviate the poverty of the
poor. In this case, he installs through his material endowments the government
official/officials single-handedly.

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According to Nietzsche’s Philosophical Writings as expressed
by R. M.
Hare (1952),
when considering poverty as one of the causes of political godfatherism in
Nigeria, we have to view the effects of poverty as it affects the electoral
behavior of the citizens on two main dimensions. The psychological effects
and physical effects.

Psychologically, it is rooted in their lack of awareness
of what happens in polity that gave birth to reservative relationship of some
of Nigerians with the government or an act of politicking. So, the people no
longer regard the government as an institution for them but as that of some
selected elites. Therefore, the godfather emerges to give or install for them
their leaders. Although, he never made his intentions known to the people.

Physically, the people feel the effects of poverty because
they are shortfall of access or resources of adequate livelihood. As a result
of this, they cannot be active in making and sustaining the government. Even
some who aspire for government jobs may not be all that financially endowed
as to meet up with the demand it requires. So, the godfather now comes up to
be a sponsor. As a sponsor, he supports both financially and influentially.
Systemic Disorder

The widespread of this factor has kept the people without
a recognized system of a modern society. This can take the form of absence of
national discipline which should rely upon solid civic education and a
responsible civic citizenry. S.
Stumpf, opined that the consequence of this will be lack of awareness, as we
have noticed in our treatment of poverty above. This lack of awareness will
create a sort of gap in the formation of the state.

This gap actually will create its own low points in the
citizens that will not be favorable to the state. Then, there will be chaos
and anarchy among the citizens, which will make the elites to come in to be
alternatives to the state. They will now provide what seemed to be a better
environment for the people, hence, the emergency of the godfathers or sole
proprietors of access to state fortune.



This is akin to our treatment of psychological poverty as
we have seen above. Here people would not know their rights according to
their guiding constitution, and so cannot fight the excesses of the government
and certain individuals constitutionaly.

There would have been a better society if the citizens
were informed and aware of the on-goings as to ask question about what they
are not comfortable with. Thus, Francis Becon said that knowledge is power.
So the godfathers emerge to get the people have a proper contact with their
government. As Ekezie, N (2009) said, they can even go to the extent of
installing their government leaders for them. In addition, become the owners
of the government and direct all the events of the state because the people
are ignorant of what they should know about their polity.


This is made more intense when the conduct of a person in
authority manifests it to the extent of becoming a way of life or
institutionalized. It is corruption that makes a person bidding for
government job or position to accept any terms of contract as to receive
support and easy passage to power. It is obvious that the acceptance of this
term is a bargain, which would exclude and mortgage the interest of the
people on one hand and on the other hand squeezed the people.

Too much quest for political power is in itself corruption
where a bidder of government job would do anything possible even the
impossibilities to get the job or the position. Moreover, in the situation
where the bidder does not consider anything whether good or bad provided he
gets the position he is aspiring for, the godfather emerges to play his role
both as a sponsor and as a supporter. At this, Onubi, A. (2002) states that the godfather shows him how to
stoop in order to conquer. As a result of this corruption, the values of the
government or administration are lost.

of the GodsonThe godson having
attained the government position he was gunning for through the sponsorship of
the godfather decided to remove his neck from the over-riding and control of
the godfather. Having seen the activities of the godfather and how to deal with
such, the godson will try to save himself by showing some reaction. These
reactions we can see in two forms:  a.       Counter Offensive b.      Withdrawal Counter Offensive The
godson taking the counter offensive measure to ward-off the attacks of the
godfather, one has to notice that the people have to feel the heat. By this
counter offensive, it means that the godson decides to fight the godfather to
any extent he goes. This is because the godson here has decided to establish
the potency of the people’s mandate. The godfather who is without any shred of
conscience wants to settle himself with the resources of the state. So, what I
mean when I say that the people will feel the heat is that the fighting godson
with gather the available resources to fight the godfather. Using these
available resources is because the godfather will buy every strategy possible
to get his commission in material and in prestige. Therefore, the godson must
be well prepared with the available resources to show the godfather that the
son is now big enough and has grown of age.3  Withdrawal

Looking at this also as another form of reaction of the
godson towards the activities of the godfather, you will see that it is more favourable
to the people than that of counter offensive. Here, the godson makes every
possible effort to settle down to deliver services to the people. At this, he
does not ignore completely the antics and tantrums of the hostile godfather
but skilfully perfects a systematically organized control and consolidation
of the structures and installations, which share direct interest in
government and in governance. C. Nnamani (2004)  wrote, “The godson pursues these development
programmes as to endear himself to the people. Therefore, this institutions
and structures are to sustain him and to reduce the hostility of the


In the light of this chapter, it can be gleaned that a
godfather should be a supremely father figure who for the lack of
completeness of the toddling upstart, the godson, shows his mastery in making
the way clear and clean for the neophyte. The next chapter will examine the
second and very important aspect of the topic which is Democracy as a


1 Arabian Journal of Business and Management
Review (OMAN Chapter) Vol.
5, No.8; March 2016

2 Lipset, S.M. ‘The Encyclopaedia of Democracy’ Vol. 111. London:
Routledge Publishers 1995 in Atere, Abdulfatai and Akinwale Akeem, ‘Political
Parties, Godfatherism and Succession Politics’,2006 in Saliu, A. Hassan et al,
‘Democracy and Development in Nigeria: Conceptual Issues and Democratic
Practice’, Vol. 1, 2006, pg. 144, University Press Ilorin. Pg. 142; see also, Kegley,
C. and E. Witkopf, World Politics: Trends and Transformations’. New York: McGraw-Hill
Co. 2002 in Atere, Abdulfatai and Akinwale Akeem, ‘Political Parties, Godfatherism
and Succession Politics’,2006 in Saliu, A. Hassan et al, ‘Democracy and Development
in Nigeria: Conceptual Issues and Democratic Practice’, Vol. 1, 2006, pg. 144, University
Press Ilorin. Pg. 142



3 C. Nnamani, The Godfather Phenomenon in
Essence Interdisplinary-International Journal of Philosophy, vol. 1, no. 1,
2004; p.10

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