Godfatherism: Ex-Govs, Politicians Calling The Shots For Governors



WITH the return of democratic governance in Nigeria in 1999, some individuals who were great beneficiaries of long years of military rule with enormous resources at their disposal hijacked the democratic processes from the political class.

This is despite the fact that most of them were not part and parcel of the formation of the political parties, and the struggle for the enthronement of the democratic governance, but suddenly they became influential in the governments and party politics at all levels. Why, simply because of their prominent roles, and immense financial contributions to the emergence of those in positions of authority in the country.

They are the political godfathers who have held and still holding sway in the polity for years now. They were mostly visible, daring and operational during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. That was when Nigerians saw the likes of Chief Lamidi Adedibu, Chief Chris Uba, Sir Emeka Offor, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and others calling the shots and pulling the strings behind the scene in the governance of the country and the states.

Nigerians witnessed several godfather/ godson fights in Enugu State between Governor Chimaroke Nnamani and Senator Jim Nwobodo; Dr. Chris Ngige versus Chief Chris Uba in Anambra State and that of commander of garrison politics, Chief Lamidi Adedibu, and Governor Rashidi Ladoja in Oyo State.

Most times, official and private homes of the godfathers are Mecca of sorts as public office seekers, contractors, and others visit them frequently for support and assistance.

The enormous cum ill-gotten material and financial resources at the godfathers’ disposal are irresistible for the political class who are in dire need of it to gain political power at all cost.

They are desperate, daring and spare no one when the chips are down. They give conditions that must be obeyed, sign illegal and secret agreements with political aspirants.

They influence the emergence of party’s candidates, bankroll electioneering campaigns and elections, compromise election officials to influence results, induce security agents, and reach out to the judges to get favourable judgments for their candidates. They and their agents are everywhere. They are major political factors in the polity. Those who cannot beat them either join them or stay away from active party politics and power play.

They have strong connections in the corridors of power, and most times serve as fronts for people in positions of authority, especially in the Presidency. They decide who gets what, how and when.

In most cases, their words are laws, and they operate with absolute impunity and seem to be above the law. They are made up of the literate and illiterate class, but that does not matter to them so far they enjoy the backing of the power-that-be, and always get what they want.

They are more visible, and at work whenever political power is being transited from one government to another, mainly at the expiration of second term of the elected governors as the case may be.

It is at this point that state governors who have completed their second term in office will at all cost impose their successors against the wish of others.

Even though some of them have been demystified in recent times, many of them are still very powerful, and commandeering. Others are gradually emerging as the newly elected public office holders that were sworn into office recently settle down in the office.

Already emerging in their league secretly and strongly are the immediate past state governors who facilitated the emergence of their successors, and other politicians who also helped some of the incumbent governors to emerge victorious in the election against the wish of their predecessors.

The influence of these new godfathers mainly immediate past governors could be easily seen in the appointments made so far by their successors. Some of the governors and their successors still live in the Government House in the states and Abuja, while others have decided to retain all the security personnel and aides used by his predecessors. Many of them have formed the habit of paying frequent visit to their successors.

The Guardian
investigation reveals that most of the ex-governors choose House of Assembly principal officers for their successors in a bid to put them in constant control. They perfect the plot right from party nomination, where just like they decide who succeed them; they also decide who get House of Assembly and National Assembly tickets. It was revealed that the delay in the composition of the cabinet by most state governors and even President Buhari was due to pressure and undue interference from the political godfathers.

Already, the godfathers are breathing down their successors’ and godsons’ neck, insisting that all that were agreed upon before the elections must be properly implemented. The governors are playing along with their successors, while biding their time to act otherwise, and liberate themselves from clutch of political godfatherism.

Findings show that in some states, the governors are already fighting a cold war with their predecessors, but are managing the situation to avoid public attraction. But just like in the past, many Nigerians believe that it is a matter of time for the ex-governors and their successors to publicly disagree or fight dirty over the running of the affairs of the states.

Speaking on the issue, a politician, Alhaji Isa Abdulaziz said the ex-governors should be mindful of the fact that they are no longer governors, stressing that they must exercise caution and wisdom in relating with their successors.

He said: “Political godfatherism is the bane of progress and development in the country’s politics in the last 16 years. So, it is an anathema. We saw its effect, and how it nearly truncated the democratic process during Obasanjo’s administration. It has not helped our democracy, and has made party politics dirty and scary.

To Miss Gold Nnobi, a lawyer, most ex-governors are supposed to be in jail, and lack the moral right to interfere in the affairs of the states.

“Why should ex-governors dictate for their successors? That is the reason corruption thrives in the country. Even if the ex-governors were instrumental in the emergence of their successors, was it not public fund they use to achieve it? Is it their personal money?

“It is high time the governors assert authority immediately they assume office, not minding whose ox is gored. This is because if government fails, they will be the ones to be held responsible,’ Nnobi said.

Some Nigerians are of the opinion that there is nothing wrong in political godfatherism, but it can be a public nuisance or distraction, when the godfathers become overbearing, greedy, and suppressive. Others argue that some godfathers are operating quietly and at the same time getting all they want from their godsons without much public attention.

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