Godfatherism and Political Conflicts In The Nigerian Fourth Republic
Godfatherism and political conflict has become the dominant feature characterizing contemporary politics. Their role as a political phenomenon has impacted on the body politics of country negative virtues which are now potential threat to the relatively new democracy. Using Nigeria’s fourth republic as a reference point, this paper examines the effects that these practices have on the future of democracy in Nigeria. The paper notes that godfatherism and political conflicts, which have become a cultural element in Nigeria’s politics, are certainly problematic to the practice of democracy. It examines how Nigerian democracy has been characterized by obnoxious acts such as indiscriminately using money and by very powerful and influential members of the elite class, popularly called, political godfathers,’ imposing political leaders on the people. It suggests how the problem of political godfatherism and conflict can be eliminated from Nigeria’s politics in order to strengthen democratic governance in the country.
The phenomenons of godfatherism and political conflict have become a plague in the body politics of Nigeria. There is an emerging trend in Nigeria which indicates that an intending contestant must have and depend on a godfather with the requisite wealth and power to get him into elective office. The implication is that contestants no longer rely on their popularity among the electorates but on their chosen godfathers to help them secure electoral victories.
Godfatherism is not new in Nigerian politics. It has only assumed a new form under the fourth republic democracy, partly because the Nigerian economy is still at the primitive stage of capital accumulation by the renters and commissioned agents with little or no productive capacities. Politics therefore is the only means of reaching out at the state resources. This phenomenon has trampled on the basic principle of democracy and has encouraged the failure of necessary structures and institutions to act decisively at correcting the anomalies. Godfatherism in Nigeria is therefore a manifestation of a societal decay. It has become a pestilence to the practice of a true democracy in Nigeria (Edigin, 2010).
Godfatherism has become a factor in Nigerian politics such that very few politicians can achieve success without the stalwart support of godfathers. In Nigeria, the desire of individuals to rule at all cost has sold political leadership to the highest bidders, as whopping sums of money are needed for electoral manipulation. Therefore, desperate politicians who wish to win elections usually seek after godfathers. The implication of this in Nigerian politics is that the country is yet to make appreciable progress in transparent governance because godfathers usually create setback, which hinders democratic growth and development in Nigeria (Edigin, 2010).
One of the prevailing fundamental and sensitive issues in Nigerian politics that cannot be ignored is godfatherism. The political relationship under successive governments in Nigeria is a reflection of the international economic order, which facilitates the pursuit or regime change by avaricious godfather whose major pre-occupation is to perpetuate their hegemonic political influence for personal interest and aggrandizement (Osuntokun, 2003). Conflict and political godfatherism have undoubtedly ruined democratic governance in Nigeria.