GODFATHERISM AND ELECTORAL PROCESS IN NIGERIAN POLITICS
BACKGROUND THE study
The term “Godfatherism” derives from Christianity. Anakwenze (2004) explains how Godparents are chosen as surrogates to assist biological (or adopted) parents in raising a Christian child to become a god-fearing, law-abiding adult.
One of the most prominent elements of Nigeria's political arena is the dominance of the phenomena of Godfatherism, which serves as a key source of political elite class recruitment. The film “The Godfather,” starring Marion Brando, popularised the notion of a Sicilian family or mafia dynasty (the Corleones) maintaining control over a drug cartel in New York despite all obstacles.
The Nigerian Godfather's political characterization in this context is that of someone who maintains political control of a given environment, in which willing political godsons or clients are sponsored to political positions, and who, upon ascension to power, are manipulated and directed whimsically and capriciously by their mentors
– the godfathers. Nnamani (2003) contends that the dynamics of the Nigerian political Godfather in Nigeria involve mercenary politics that are oiled and projected to willy-nilly produce the desired political result for the godfather, using all disposable tactics within his reach.
Nnamani (2003:79) claims that the archetypal godfather in Nigeria is more than the brutal Mario Puzo's Kingpins in the Italian Mafia scenario. While the fictional godfather is described as a “shadowy,
dare devil recluse with near mythical powers of enormous proportions,” in order to further grease the ever expanding vast financial empire, the Nigerian type adds conceit, avarice, ego, loquacity, pettiness, envy, strife, crudity, and confusion.
Godfatherism is a concept that has thoroughly permeated the Nigerian political landscape. It is based on the idea that select individuals have the capacity and means to unilaterally and solely determine who gets a party's ticket to run for and win elections for elective positions in government.
The conduct of elections is without a doubt one of the most important civic engagements that characterises any liberal and competitive political system. It is an essential exercise in the sense that, if conducted freely and fairly, it produces results that are mutually acceptable to both contenders and the electorate.
In this regard, political leadership that arises from a free and fair electoral process has persistent and substantial support from the population; once again, its legitimacy is recognised and accepted to all.
Thus, Ikpe (2010:50) contends that the extent to which administrations of nations are recognised and acknowledged as legitimate is determined by how well they appear to have followed legal electoral procedures.
Political godfathers are those prominent and well-placed persons who fund gladiatorial players and activities throughout the electoral process. They thrust their political godsons into the political spotlight. Godfathers introduce their godsons to important persons.
Problems and animosity usually occur when the godson, having clinched power with the godfather's support, attempts to sideline the godfather, either discreetly or publicly.
This could be due to the godfather's desire to dominate the government, dictating for the godson and offering orders on how the administration should be run.
Godfathers are thus the vehicles for delivering victory to predetermined winners in Nigeria's electoral process. The orbit and fulcrum of this study will be based on the thesis that the emergence of godfatherism in Nigeria's political landscape is a manifestation of profound moral malaise inflicted on Nigerian society by bad governance experienced during the country's protracted military interregnums,
during which the moral and normative structures of the society were weakened by successive inept, corrupt, and unprogressive military regimes. The theme is justified by the destabilising and damaging impacts of this on democratic consolidation.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The essence of the godfatherism problem in Nigeria is that it deprives political office seekers of their independence and logical sense of judgement, sloughing off their dignity and converting them to simple puppets, stooges, and surrogates of their godfathers.
This puts them at a disadvantage and forces them to be obedient to their donors in order to keep their goodwill. As a result, godfathers have a lasting influence on cabinet members chosen by godsons to fill important positions.
The operation of godfathers has formed a serious political concern in the context of Nigeria's political growth, affecting the country's democratisation process. According to Togbolo (2003), it adds to the excessive election violence and political despotism that characterise the Nigerian political environment.
According to the UNDP (1997), one of the most prominent elements responsible for electoral fraud in Nigeria is godfatherism, which, among other things, leads to misgovernance, subversion of democracy, and political corruption. This influence is felt in other sectors of government as well, to the disadvantage of the people.
Godfathers' predatory inclinations drain the treasuries of Nigerian state governments, particularly in Ibiono Ibom. This is due to the fixed amount that godsons must repay their godfathers for their help during electioneering campaigns.
Such sums undoubtedly attract usurious interest since godfathers consider their assistance to be a type of investment on which they anticipate to earn money. In order to repay the godfathers, government coffers are drained of monies, rendering them unavailable for development programmes.
Godfathers thus encourage an entrepreneurial view of politics as opposed to the traditional civic one. As a result, the stakes of politics are heightened, particularly in nascent democracies, making consolidation of democratic institutions challenging.
Gambo .There is no denying that godfathers' anomic political behaviour is a miniature version of a morally decrepit society whose underpinnings have been undermined by corruption, bribery, and graft, to name a few.
The scope of this research will be to investigate methods of instilling sound and noble political behaviour in today's godfathers, with a few exceptions boosting the people's developmental goals.
The influence, manipulations, and manoeuvrings of political godfathers in the electoral process in Akwa Ibom State's Ibiono Ibom local Government Area will be amply touched, while encouraging people to adopt the sound political culture of Nigeria's First Republic Godfathers.
1.3 PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study was to undertake a thorough analysis into the notion of godfatherism and the election process in Nigerian politics in the Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. As a result, the study has the following goals:
To discover why godfathers are motivated by a desire for self-enrichment, employing godsons as surrogates to promote their local interests.
To compare and contrast political godfathers' consensus notion of election system within a democratic society.
To investigate why political godsons are deprived by their godfathers of their independent rational sense of judgement and personal dignity.
Conduct proper inquiries into the godfathers' performance and conduct, as well as the behaviour of their political godsons, while canvassing for an election. For example, political godfathers administering oaths to political godsons.
1.4 significance THE STUDY
This study promises to be an important addition to the body of knowledge on the topic of godfatherism in Nigeria, and specifically in Ibiono Ibom Local Government.
It will provide assistance to public office aspirants on how to raise cash to run for office, as well as warn them against the pitfalls of relying too much on godfathers for financial support.
Before pursuing the aspiration to run for public office, candidates should have enough money to pay their electioneering campaigns. This will disabuse political godfathers of the notion that politics is a business.