The high incidence of political conflict has been a major problem in Nigerian politics since the inception of the country as a polity; from the colonial period to the stage of attainment of Republican hood; and since then free and fair election have been very elusive because all election has been characterized by political violence, in our attempt to address these phenomenon we analyze the case of Anambra state between 1999 to 2007 when the violence reached climax in the state. We used documentary research method for gathering and analyzing data while conflict theory was used for the analytical framework. Political godfatherism was identified as the major problem that generated the crises in the election of Chinwoke Mbadinuju and Chris Ngige the governors that ruled the state during the period under investigation Chief Emeka Offor and Chief Chris Uba the godfathers claimed to have sponsored the election of Mbadinuju and Chris Ngige respectively. Other contributory factors where the imposition of unpopular candidate during the gubernatorial elections in the period and negative reaction of the federal government that aggravated the crises. The work concluded that the political violence was caused by politicians, who wanted to satisfy private interest to the detriment of the collective good of the Anambra state whose disagreement engendered conflict that adversely affected the entire electoral process and the entire political order in form of violence. The work recommends among others things that they should be a legislative order or law that will stop various forms of political godfatherism.





Background to the Study

The human race will never see the end of troubles until political power is entrusted to the lover of wisdom “PlatoRepublic”. My first approach to the challenge of this topic, is that we have no choice but to seed to return to the basic context in which Nigerians see the godfather or the conflicts as a segment of the political process as well as the figure, standing against the intellectual extrapolations originating in, and also sustained by, the media.

Politics as a concept when considered against its definition by David Easton, could be said to have been in existence as early as any grouping or organization of people which is formal or sometimes when informal. The Eastonian definition posits that politics is the “authoritative allocation of scare values”. This definition could also be viewed from the point of struggle for the political power will to authoritatively allocates these values through the point of influencing the decisions of who gets what, when and how and finally climaxing at the contestation for the voice of veto on the implementation of the decisions taken.

However, from the above brief overview of the concept of politics would reveal some key factors, the values of resources available to be shared amongst members of the scarce and cannot sufficiently satisfy the needs of every member of the group. This is why there is need for an authority which will decide on the allocation of these scarce resources supposedly in accordance with priority of importance. Another factor to be printed out is that since the decision of ‘what’ anyone would get from the system resides at the points of who makes up the authority of allocation, there is therefore clashes and disagreements at these decisions points.

If the two above factors are aggregated, it would become clear that the political process is one that can be figuratively termed, WAR. And if all these conflicts cannot be amicably resolved by way of resolutions, then the system is at a point of crisis.

The trend of ‘political godfatherism’ which in turn is derived from the maker or sustainers of an aspect of reality, a people to whom great importance is attached. We can then see that there is a relationship between godfather and god-child; godchild being a child for whom one takes responsibility by making promises to help grow in a sphere of life, and god-fatherism has become one of the greatest problem facing the Nigerian political system. It leads to corruption because you have to make returns (he that soweth bountifully, reapeth bountifully). The holder of the political position becomes a stooge to his godfather because he that pays the piper dictates the tune. By the time the godson refuse to meet their (godfathers) demand, it is eventually impeachment from political offices (what a man soweth, that he reap).

In the Nigeria fourth republic dispensation (1999 till date) in question, Anenih – Igbinedion, the Sariki – Lawal face-off, Nwobodo –Nnamani quagmire, Adebibu – Ladoja crisis, Uba – Ngige sage and all other godfather – protégé crisis in Nigeria do not only portend great danger to our democratic experiment, but also on the very essence and validity of our existence as a nation. The billions of naira expended by Nigerian godfathers for bankrolling the elections of their godsons, have totally monetized elections in Nigeria, which automatically disqualifies men of honour, character and integrity from holding elected public positions. Without doubt, the phenomenon has assumed this bizarre from since the enthronement of Nigeria civil rule on May 29, 1999. it started with the acrimony that existed between chief Anthony Anenih (godfather) and Lucky Igbinedion (protégé), the governor of EdoState between May 1999, to May 2003. Chief A. Anenih was purported to have endorsed the candidate of Lucky Igbinedion against other contenders as the governor of the state and also bankrolled his campaign expenses. But Lucky Igbinedion failed to reciprocate the gesture of Anenih by not giving  him adequate government patronage and by acting in ways as loyal ‘godson’. The episode unfolded itself between Dr. Jim Nwobodo (godfather) and Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani (protégé), of EnuguState. Though the godson eventually subdued the godfather after a fierce struggle for the soul of the state. (Essence Library, Godfatherism in Nigeria Politics, 2004, p. 64).

However, during the second term of President Olusegun Obasanjo, the phenomenon of godfatherism becomes  more alarming and dangerous to the survival of Nigeria’s fledging democracy. In OyoState, South-West Nigeria, Adebidu (godfather) and Ladoja (protégé) battle for the soul of Oyo, has affected governance in the State and has reenacted political violence which it was famous for. At the long run, Ladoja won the State gubernatorial election, defeating the incumbent governor, Alhaji Lam Adeshina of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He was eventually sworn in on 29th May, 2003. When Adedibu decided to nominate 80 percent of the new commissioners and special advisers, Ladoja decided to act fast. He tricked Adedibu to go on a much – needed rest abroad and he made sure the speaker Moroof Olawale Atilola – led House of Assembly immediately approved his list of commissioners that was the end of the pact between Adedibu and Ladoja. The animosity between Adedibu and Ladoja was put into display during the electioneering campaign for the March 27, 2004 Local Government Elections. Ladoja was left to his devices until he was consumed through “impeachment” by the tiger he mounted in 2003. (Celetine Okafor, The Ladoja Impeachment, January 14, 2006).

Another important episode that unfold was that of Chris Uba (godfather) and Chris Ngige (protégé), of AnambraState. After the Oath –taking at the Okija shrine by the godson, he refused to play ball as arranged, looting, blood letting, gubernatorial abduction and judicial ambushes has become common place activities in AnambraState. Until the 16th March, 2006. The godson (Ngige) was finally removed from office. (Essence Library Godfatherism in Nigeria politics, 2004, p.65).

This crisis was very much reflective of how it has always been in the Nigerian polity as it concerns the political elites in the society. They are high and mighty and have the ability to have their way given any situation and almost every crisis that is observed is an after-effect of the musceflexing amongst them and amongst themselves.


In the proceeding piece of introduction to this work, sufficient and hear exhaustive description and highlights of the various points and forms of manifestation political conflicts in Nigeria fourth republic, was attempted. This was done alongside with the brief overview of the concept “godfatherism” and “political conflicts” in any system, society or political grouping while also considering the frequency of these crisis situations in Nigeria as a nation. Haven looked at the forms of manifestation of the concept. It is proper that we attempt to state the problem(s) that created a sustaining environment for these crisis to blew and thrive.

The first problem could be spotted from the analysis of the above listed political conflicts saga, is that of widespread corruption which has a partner in unpatriotism. Quite consistently, Nigeria has been considered to be among the first five most corruption, fueled by greed for the concept of patriotism, that has resulted in the average Nigeria seeing governance and government as a vehicle for exploitation and self-aggrandizement. So while the people crave for  a leadership of lift maintain mercantilism as their watchword and do everything in the hope of monetary gains and kickback. Anambra, Oyo, Enugu, Edo, etc. are still a classic example of this situation.

The second problem easily identifiable in the entire case scenario of the Oyo, Anambra, Kwara, Edo, Borno, etc political conflicts is “Elitism”. While the consideration of elitism as a problem would not be universally accepted.

Another problem is one that could be said to be an offshoot of the proceeding problem concept, political godfatherism. Political godfatherism is a concept that although is widely in practice in all parts of the world, have assumed disturbing and worrying dimensions and proportions in the nation today. It has become pertinent to have strong political godfathers before considering running for any elective office and even political appointments. Unfortunately, as it was in Anambra, Oyo, Edo, etc. most of these godfathers offer the services of their support only in anticipation of financial kickbacks that are alarmingly huge and extravagant and opposed to the expected norm of service to the people.




The Main Objectives Of This Study Is  to analyze the  Political Conflict In Nigerian Democracy: A Case Study Of Anambra State 1999-2007.

Other specific objectives are:

(1)    To attempt a disclosure of the Godfatherism and effects of political conflicts by examining the various identifiable causes and effects of Anambra State conflict in Nigeria fourth republic.

(2)    To firmly establish the fact that political conflicts had become Nigeria’s consistent bedfellow, with a vivid examination of Anambra State Government crisis.

(3)    And finally, to profer a panacea to the identified causes of these political conflicts in order to prevent a continuance of its sporadic frequency in Nigeria.


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.



The following hypothesis will be tested during the course of the work.

  1. The more monetized the political system is the more the strength of the god-fathers.
  2. The more prominent the activities of the god-fathers, the higher the possibility of political instability.
  3. The more elected officers depend on god-fathers, the more impoverished the masses would be.


1.6 Theoretical framework

This research work  were anchored on  “Conflict Theory”. Conflict theory looks at society as a competition for limited resources. This perspective is a macro-level approach most identified with the writings of German philosopher and sociologist Karl Marx (1818–1883), who saw society as being made up of individuals in different social classes who must compete for social, material, and political resources such as food and housing, employment, education, and leisure time. Social institutions like government, education, and religion reflect this competition in their inherent inequalities and help maintain the unequal social structure. Some individuals and organizations are able to obtain and keep more resources than others, and these “winners” use their power and influence to maintain social institutions. Several theorists suggested variations on this basic theme. Polish-Austrian sociologist Ludwig Gumplowicz (1838–1909) expanded on Marx’s ideas by arguing that war and conquest are the basis of civilizations. He believed that cultural and ethnic conflicts led to states being identified and defined by a dominant group that had power over other groups (Irving 2007).



The essence of this study is self-explaining in the presentation of the various facts that constitute the crisis of Anambra State in question. This study seeks to provide us with detailed account of these state crisis and indepth and exhaustive (as much as possible) analysis of the various factors that comes into play in the saga between the period of 1999-2007. This is in the view to finding a lasting solution and thus preventing a reoccurrence of the anomaly in the Nigerian polity.

It is also not in doubt that other scholars could further explore this area of research, just like a few others have done before me, using this work/study as a launch pad. This could be by lending strength and support to some of the ideas or hypothesis that this work seeks to propagate. If could also be by improving in some or all of the errors that I may have unavoidably made in the course of this research. All of these would aid in navigating observers and future researcher of this topic of study, towards the best stock of intellectually analytic compilation on the topic. The end of all these would in no doubt be useful in preventing a future repetition of the errors that are presently a bane on our development in present day.

Finally, it is also noted that this work could be considered as an addition to the bulk of academic and intellectual endeavours and submissions available on this topic and on related topics, particularly in Nigeria. In the final analysis, this work would be seen as another beam of light thrown in the direction of various political upheavals that has bedevilled the country especially in recent times.


Although the problem of political conflicts is one that is universally acknowledged and pondered upon, the scope of this particular research work would be limited to  Anambra State in Nigeria and the time frame of study would be the fourth republic (1999 – 2007).

The reason for this is because the happenings in the state reflect the trend that being perpetuated nationally. Moreover, any attempt at proffering a long lasting solution to the problem, it is hoped, would also have a bearing on the entire nation.


One major challenge in the course of this study was the general unwillingness of people from the study area to give detailed information on the subject matter. The study populations were sensitive and skeptical about giving out accurate information. They cited security reasons for this challenge. However, the researcher was able to persuade the respondents about the relevance of their information for proffering effective measures to the challenge of godfatherism and political violence in Anambra state so as to attain sustainable peace and development in the state. The respondents complained that despite all the research carried out in relation to the topic, nothing has been done to combat the trend of godfatherism and political violence and its challenge on the people. However, they were assured that all information given out would be treated with strict confidentiality. Also, the low level of education of some of the respondents in the study area necessitates the need to assist in writing out some the opinions.

On the interview aspect, the respondents were not readily available to provide relevant information but measures such as phone calls were utilized to carry out the interview. In all, despite these difficulties encountered, the research findings were not negatively affected in any way. Therefore, the researcher was able to generate meaningful insight into the issue of focus to the study.



 (1).  Godfatherism:- Godfatherism is “a male godparent: a sponsor – one who pays the bill. The head of a criminal investigation”.

(2).  Politics:- The struggle for power which itself is the authority to determine or formulate and execute decisions and policies, which must be accepted by the society. It is the struggle for power of governance, especially executive authority.

(3)   Elites:- These are limited number of people who believed that they possessed the qualities necessary for accession to full social and political powers.

(4)   Crisis:- Means an unstable situation, a sudden attack of pain or stress. Violent struggle between two parties over an idea or possession.

(5)   Conflict:- Means the disagreement in ideas or over a thing between groups of persons or one person and another.

(6)   Bargaining:-Means the presentation of proposals and counter – proposals by two disagreeing parties, with the hope of attaining an agreement or an equilibrium.

(7)   Godson:– Godson is a male godchild who is put under the supervision of his godfather.

(8)   Saga:– Long story of brave deeds

(9)   Clog:– become blocked with thick or stricky materials

(10) Clog:-a small figure of a person that can be made to move or a group or person whose actions are controlled by another.

(11) Elastic:– This is something that can be altered, not fixed

(12) Chameleonic:– A person who changes her or his behaviour, opinion etc to suit the situation.


1.11   Method of data collection and analysis

The nature of this research makes it expedient that a secondary source of data is undertaken in order to provide relevant data, effort will be made to collect secondary sources in literature such as book, magazines, newspapers, journals, internet and other similar materials. The principal method used will be questionnaires which will be given to indigenes of Anambra State who pertake in 199,2007 gubernatorial election. – primary source

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