The effect of godfatherism on leadership selection in Nigeria fourth republi

The effect of Godfatherismon leadership selection in Nigeria,fourth republic.A case study of Gombe state


In contemporary democracy politics of godfatherism has become a universal issue in the political development of many countries Nigeria inclusive. The paper studied the implication of politics of godfatherism on the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria. Certainly, the politics of godfatherism have entered every hook and crannies of the nation and have affected the political structure of the country. This paper is qualitative in nature; data were obtained from secondary sources where numerous articles, newspapers, magazines, books reports, and archives were systematically reviewed. In elucidating the topic under examination, the researcher used Elite theory. This theory was advocated by Vilfredo Pareto in 1935, the postulation of the theory is that elites are replaced by another group of elites, meaning that the majority are unavoidably governed by the minority. The study found that the politics of godfatherism has a negative impact on the socio-economic and political development of the nation by confining power in the hands of the few elites at the expense of the masses (electorates). This has affected the socio-economic and political development of the nation, and by extension led to inter-party and intra-party defections, decamping�s and conflicts among the party members. Therefore, the study recommends the implementation of the direct primary election in the selecting candidate into elective positions. In addition to that, INEC should make a law that will discourage money politics and should as well punish the culprit involved in such an illegal political act.


In Africa and other developing countries like Nigeria, godfatherism has become the central point of political vandalism this is as a result of the overconcentration of authority and capital of politicians explains the ascent for the control of the structures and organizations by the political class in the nation, this struggle, and the resulting values have obstructed significantly on society in a various ways (Ohiole & Ojo, 2016:1).

Politics of godfatherism and regionalism has featured prominently in the political history of independent Nigeria. The problems arising from godfatherism are myriad and it is one of the greatest glitches facing the Nigerian political system. The problem is such that the god-son oftentimes is a stooge of the godfather �and he that pays the piper dictates the tune (Edigin, 2010:174)�. The failure of the god-son to meet the demands of the god-father is often punished with impeachments or denial of re-election. He also observed that with the return to democratic rule in 1999, the country witnessed a heightened tempo in the politics of godfatherism, which has affected the socio-economic and political development of the country.

A study by Ohiole & Ojo (2016:11), disclosed that democracy in Nigeria has not been fully established and the phenomenon of godfatherism has endangered democratic process and the socio-economic lives of the citizenry. Political godfathers is a condition in Nigerian political process influencing against the democratic establishment in order to satisfy their selfish interest they are even ready to manipulate the democratic body and its mode of operations, by overpowering public office holders like the governor and council chairman to dance to their tone. The activities of these political fighters have deprived the people of voting for their ideal applicants as their leader. This has directly affected the political arrangement and the national economy of the nation.

However, Nigeria with a projected population of 196,651,048 and� one of the largest nation in Africa blessed with human and material resources, is by far the most populated nation in Africa (Ali, Zakuan, and Ahmad, 2018 & UNDESA, 2018). It has three tiers of government structure these include federal, state, and local government. With six geopolitical zones across the nation. Nigeria comprises 36 states and Abuja. It also has 774 local government, and federal capital territory (Ahmed & Shehu, 2014). With all these features yet Nigeria is characterizing with politics of godfatherism since independence this is as a result of the majority and minority domination and poverty that was artificially created by the politicians among the citizens to subjugate them to lower class. Political godfatherism in its simplest form can be generally seen as a practice which involves the sustenance of a kind of social and political relations in which the inferior looks onto the superior for the dissemination and self-actualization of firm roles, desires and connections which unite both together or in which both have equal pole but with the greater influence of what the inferior gets in the process (Majekodunmi, 2013:71).

Nigeria has all the below types of godfathers:

most especially those who serve others, those who expect the society to serve them, and even those who channel their resources into criminal activities. Our interest in this paper is on the politics of godfatherism in the democratic government (Albert, 2005:81).

Godfathers in some nations are inspired by their resolution to regulate public policies in favour of their concerns. For instance, in Nigeria, the primary motive of political godfathers is to control the treasury of the state. The godfathers in Nigerian politics are primarily concerned with appropriation of government contracts, political/public appointments and plundering the coffers of the state. They are in advantaged positions to decide the political confidence of candidates to political offices and as such those that are not only seen but confirmed to be �loyal� cannot be �given� ticket to be the flag bearer of the parties. This is to ensure that the godsons will be answerable to them when they were elected into power. Because of these conditions, some contenders defect to other parties where they do not have such influential figures that would aggravate them from their political ambitions (Okolie, 2006:171).

From the above expression, it is understood that democracy is a competition among the elite for control and entree to state power. However, it is contended here that in Nigeria the disaster of democracy can be traced to the failure of the political elite, as a class. Since 1954, there has been a fusion of the elite such that political elite also institutes both the economic and social elite. To be sure, the emergent political elite since 1954 have dominated the political territory to the exclusion of new candidates. The old elite has to controlled the political passage such that where they are not opposing for political positions, they desire to constitute themselves as the power behind the curtain, thereby, leading to the phenomenon of ‘godfatherism'(Uadiale, 2012:94).

Looking at the above set-up it is understood that politics of Godfatherism has eaten deep into Nigerian politics this corresponds with the opinion of Plato, Aristotle, Tacitus, and other classical philosophers who largely centered on the concentration of political power in the hands of a few in the early Greek and Roman society. Thinkers such as Pareto, Mosca, Michels, and Marx too devoted their political analysis on how power is used and misused by the ruling class in diverse settings. The domination of power by the hegemonic class in many parts of the contemporary society can thus, be said to be nothing new but has a vigorous pedigree (Albert, 2005:79).

Brief History of the Nigerian State and Democracy

The Nigerian state was established because of the defeat and occupation of Lagos by the British between 1861 and 1914. In the year 1861 and 1914, all areas around the Niger River were progressively apprehended, some by power and others quietly give to British domination and rule. These areas which shaped the Nigerian state were before the conquest and occupation of Lagos, and the January 1914 unification were different nationalities, ethno-religious and geopolitical groups which were either separate or independent of one another or to a less extent inter-related to one another. With the 1914 unification, these areas from the Northern and Southern regions of the Niger River were amalgamated together and made as one political entity called (Nigeria). From 1914 to 1960 Nigeria remained under the British colonial rule which in addition brought party politics and the western styled parliamentary democracy into Nigeria over the years of colonial rule (Ali & Isah, 2018:116).

In a related development a study by Isah and Ahmed (2018), disclosed that political activities in unified Nigeria began around 1922/23 when elections and a political party Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) was recognized and conducted. This political movement and parties in Nigeria continued to develop up to 1960 when Nigeria attains its independence. The post-independence era also witnessed an increased number of political events as well as growing number of political parties and politically related groups and associations which had by January 1966 before the coup reached 81 (Mohammed, Aisha & Saidu, 2018).

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