​Godfatherism in Nigerian Politics and the System of the Unopposed

Godfatherism as described by Wikitionary is a form of political corruption in which an influential member of a party assists another person in the climb to leadership.

Since having returned from military to democratic rule, the Nigerian government has faced an enormous backlash in its leadership. One would ask if returning to democracy was worth it since the various forms of political degradation which it sought to tackle ranging from embezzlement, corruption, bribery, nepotism and so on has been on a rapid increase thereafter. This has resulted in the country experiencing a huge form of poverty and unemployment amongst its citizenry. The idea of democracy (which entails as its most important function; transparency and accountability) was rightly to have the whole of the citizenry represented fully in government in order to enable an equal share of the benefits accorded to her. While democracy in a normal clime seeks to achieve this aim, one is not sure what the democratic process in Nigeria entails. Since her return to democracy in 1999, Nigeria with the emergence of PDP was ruled for sixteen years by the said party, never mind that there were invariably over 50 other parties seeking for the same political leadership.

The idea of PDP retaining the label of the ruling party over this period says a lot about the nations democratic process. Was the country a one-party state? Were there no individuals other from some selected few in quest for power? Why should leadership be limited to just one party whereas they were others with supposedly good motives and agenda? Was the citizenry satisfied with the level of leadership being proffered by this party? These of course and many more are the bulk of questions that explains the topic of our discourse: Godfatherism in Nigerian Politics and the System of the Unopposed.

As seen in the various situation labelled out above, it is certain that there was an imbalance in the democratic process where you have the wishes and hopes of the people poorly represented, leaving us to question if truly it was democracy being played out all these while. It is lucidly seen that whereas we are supposedly enshrined by the tenets of democracy, the practicalization remains disjointed from what it fully entails.

The electoral process which is held periodically in four years supposedly to usher in a new set of government, can be seen to be of little or no value as same government remains in power. In a normal sense, a political leader both in the federal, state and local government level is (according to the constitution) afforded the rights to rule for four years having been declared winner in an election.

When this period expires a new leader bereft of party is given the right to take over power if declared winner in an election. What then happens when a ruling leader ends his tenure and remains unsatisfied with his level of political power? He goes on (knowing it is unconstitutional to recontest for election) picks out a loyal party member of his choice through who he remains in power ‘unseen’; and this becomes a continuous cycle. This is the system of government which is largely practiced in Nigeria, the system of the unopposed, whereby the wishes and hopes of one particular person is imposed on the people by a stooge who has possibly agreed to such unjustifiable terms.

The pristine nature of this system makes it almost impossible to be labelled a political corruption since no rule has been indirectly broken by the leaders involved. It is however sad to say that although it is apparent that this form of governance has become feasible, it remains unspoken of in the judiciary.

When political leadership revolves around a particular set of people it goes on to hinder the progress of such nation as the major resources remains unevenly distributed. It goes on to cause distortion within its government bringing about cases of mayhem and chaos. It would be recalled that the major opposing party PDP, vowed to challenge their loss in the past election in court having sort out cases of irregularities in the voting system. The APC government has been in power for only four years and could be said to be playing out the role akin to the former in its governance. This was possibly achieved through the efforts of key players in the former, decamping to the later in other to play out their political power. Through this, citizens could develop a strong form of apathy towards political affairs with the notion that democracy has been stifled by godfatherism.

If Nigeria must retain its stance in democracy, the citizens starting from the grassroots level must begin to see evil in this, how it has largely hindered the developmental progress of its state. Rightful and legitimate citizens should be afforded the right to rule as regards to having won in a free and fair election. The Nigerian democracy to prevail must be let to be what is, a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Anything short of this should be totally rejected by the people.


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