End of the road for political godfatherism in Nigeria

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Godfatherism

Politics Today with Abdullahi Yusuf Tela 

YBTC News-Gradually, the Nigerian political nomenclature is digging and sending political godfatherism to its grave. Perhaps, the political milieu is tired of the atrocities and highhandedness created these political ‘anointers” who can be referred to as the godfathers in the political realm.

The aftermath of the Edo state gubernatorial elections has proven this theory where the acclaimed godfathers who stood firmly in making sure their candidates emerged winners were left belly up. Political godfatherism has gone too deep in the Nigerian political system which has been characterized by abject electoral malpractices, corruption, favouritism, and other vices that come as a result of fulfilling the promises of both the anointer and anointed; the political godson and the political godfather. 

From 1999 when Nigeria returned to democracy an avalanche of political godfathers viz a viz godsons sprang up. Olusegun Obasanjo, one of the trickiest and smartest Nigerian Presidents succeeded in removing the regalia of a godson. In fact, Obasanjo after winning from the selection of the godfathers in 1999 threw the shirt at them and became his own godfather. In 2007, he picked, Umaru Musa Yar’adua who was a brother to his late bosom friend in the army, Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’adua. Consequently, after the emergence of ‘Yar’adua as the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s flag bearer, Obasanjo, now a godfather, did all he could to make sure that the Katsina born Yar’adua emerged the President. Little wonder why many including the international community attributed the election to be marred by electoral malpractices.  

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In a similar vein, Obasanjo during his reign, singlehandedly selected some individuals to be Governors in their respective states. For instance, in the heat of the 2007 campaign, Obasanjo while raising the hands of the then gubernatorial candidate in Niger state, Muazu Babangida Aliyu who was also then the Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory said that if the people wouldn’t vote for Aliyu he will take him back to Abuja and give him another job.

As time passed by, the political relevance of the able and capable Obasanjo started drastically declining. Most of his godsons with the exception of some few rejected him while others renounced him publicly. Baba Obasanjo only retorted to picking his pen and engaged in his undaunted skills of open letters. Obasanjo’s rage was shown after he wrote to one of his loyal godsons Goodluck Jonathan. 

We cannot talk on political godfatherism in Nigeria without mentioning the late Chief Lamidi Adedibu. In Oyo state, from the early 2000s, one cannot winy the gubernatorial seat without the anointing oil of Adedibu. He is just a “governor-maker”. In 2003-2007, the then governor of Oyo state, Rashidi Ladoja faced a very tumultuous political rein.

This is because Ladoja could not fulfil, as alleged, the promises he made to the Ibadan based godfather. On that basis, Adedibu made sure that the Ogbomosho born Adebayo Alao Akala forcefully took away the mantle from Ladoja. Thus, Alao Akala was thrown into the political wilderness after the death of the power broker, Adedibu. yGoing forward, the 2019 #OTOGE twitter harsh tag has changed the political structure of Kwara state while bringing godfatherism in the state to it creepy knees.

The election that brought in Abdulrahman Abdulrazak came with intense tornado by the people to change and bury the political godfatherism of the Saraki family in Kwara state. One undoubted political environment where godfatherism still thrives is Lagos state. From 1999 to present, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu has remained the godfather of the state that decides who becomes the governor and who doesn’t. The Tinubu effect certainly controls Lagos state and some states in the South west. Apparently, Tinubu has proven his mark in Lagos state. In 2019 election, Tinubu who also holds the traditional title of the Jagaban Borgu, succeeded in ending the governorship rein of Akinwumi Ambode and bought in Babajide Sanwo Olu as the governor of Lagos state. Ambode who also rode on the boat of a political godson later humbly accepted the defeat and moved on.

This shows the Jagaban supremacy. However, the recent Edo elections has limited the political influence of Tinubu and his close associate who he helped become the National Chairman of Ally Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole. Tinubu and Osho woefully failed in bringing Osagie Ize Iyamu as the governor in Edo.

The people of Edo sent strong message toy Tinubu that this is not Lagos. But can Tinubu continue his political dominance? It is high time Nigerians decide on who they want to vote for not sticking toy a particular candidate who has been anointed by someone. Definitely, an anointed candidate must do the bidding of the anointer whether positively or negatively and this will however affect the choice the democratic freewill of the people. This should be the end of the road for godfatherism in Nigeria.  

Contact:abdultela2@gmail.com

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