Influence Of The Politics Of Godfatherism On The Development Of Democracy In Nigeria

Influence Of The Politics Of Godfatherism On The Development Of Democracy In Nigeria
Influence Of The Politics Of Godfatherism On The Development Of Democracy In Nigeria

ABSTRACT: The study determined the influence of the politics of godfatherism on the development of democracy in Nigeria. To guide the study, three specific objectives, there research questions and three hypotheses were formulated. Descriptive type of research method was employed; Explanatory approach of research was used in the analysis of data. The findings from the study revealed that politics of godfatherism heightens the cost of electioneering, breeds corruption and influence the choice of candidate, lead to abuse of constitutional provision for election, encouraged abusive use of money in politics that negates the principles of electoral justice, creates insecurity and instability in the body of politics following the war of attribution between rival factions within the same party lead by political godfathers an godsons. Godfatherism is a hydra-headed monster in Nigeria politics. It continues to threaten the practices of popular political participation in the country if not concrete efforts are made to deal with the problem. It is common to have influential people in the society giving backing to electoral candidates.  

There is nothing wrong with it if the goal is to get the best people into public offices, what is wrong with the Nigeria systems that godfathers have turned politics into a money-making business under which elections are rigged with a view to forcing predetermined candidates into offices. The office holders are in turn subjected to all harm of indecent manipulation by their mentors. The godfathers in Nigeria see their support to the godson as economics investment that must yield superlative dividends by all means. Thus, election in Nigeria and the contest of political power is still seen as zero-sum activity. It is more apparent therefore, that the tenets of democracy and politics as a contest of idea are far from being understood and practiced.

Influence Of The Politics Of Godfatherism On The Development Of Democracy In Nigeria



1.1       Background to the Study

The politics of Godfatherism, its patronage is involving money or using influence in choice of candidates have destroyed the democratic processes in Nigeria. Such practices including accepting bribes from patrons and distributing money to buy votes. This has implications for good governance processes, including political participation. The role of money in politics is strong. Godfathers, money bags and incumbents using police orderlies and state security paraphernalia intimidate voters and undermine elections.

Money politics is quickly spreading with popularity in Nigeria politics. It is a key determinant in determining who participates in electoral politics and how. Where nomination fees coupled with all expenses for election is so high, hence the tendency for patronage in Nigeria, most of the big political parties charged ridiculously high fees for collecting nomination forms. What the candidates are asked to pay for collecting the forms are not realistic given the state of Nigeria’s economy. The fees are sometimes as high as what an average Nigeria earns in six months. Some candidates thus have to sell some of their properties or take loans from friends to raise the money. The most popular alternative is to approach a godfather for support (Albert, 2005).

In 1992, for example, presidential hopeful spent billions of naira during the primaries while other not-so-rich condemners had about naira a budget for primaries. Although the reckless political transition programme of General Ibrahim Babangida’s administration was aborted, this trend of unrestrained use of money for political influence persists to date. Women and youth are the most vulnerable in this situation because of their little lack of access to wealth.

Today, money drowns votes and voices in Nigeria as godfathers openly confess about shady deals, funding or sponsoring elections for godsons and purchasing electoral victory. Businessmen and women are not left out in this illegitimate and illicit use of money for political influence.

At the party conventions, money, are not necessarily meaningful, political issues or questions of integrity plays an important role in deciding who carries the day. Candidates who want to get the nod of their parties for whatever office, even those vying to the office of the president must have identified with one prominent godfather or the other. The godfather puts in place all it takes (money, violence, rigging of election etc.), for his candidates to win after getting nominated at the parties convention, the godfather goes from there to ensure that his candidate wins the election by all means. After election, Nigeria public officers are only loyal to the godfather who put them in office rather to the party they belong to or the Nigeria state they pretended to serve.  (Albert, 2005). This and its consequences weaken public acceptance of the democratic process.

This is evident in the 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019 elections conducted in Nigeria. It was the belief of many Nigerians have, that Nigeria’s Democracy will improve with its years of experience. This has been the contrary, as the cases involving money politics increase as Nigeria gets older. The history of political godtherism is traceable to the colonial epoch through the independence era, military interregnum and towards the restoration of democracy in Nigeria is what came to be known as the Fourth Republic in 1999. The staggering posture of godfatherism in Nigeria democratic experiment leaves much to be desired.

According to Ajadike (2010) this stems from the fact that since the adumbration of the nascent democracy on the 29th May 1999, Nigerians have witness uncontrollable political insecurity, which has threatened participatory democracy, people, political security and the consolidation of democracy as a result of the activities of political godfathers.

Essentially, the politics of godfatherism in Nigeria has became more visible and widespread like harmmatan fire as events unfolded itself in the recent elections conducted variously in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 in Nigeria. With the expansion of the activities of godfathers and its Eldorado in the 21st century Nigeria, coupled with the godson clientelism, there was greater commitment and manifestation of discontentment in the developing democracy of Nigeria in the areas of political security and participation. It should also be mentioned that the Fourth Republic political godfathers are essentially predatory in their motivation to influence electoral politics and subsequent elections in Nigeria. (Gambo, 2006). Unfortunately, the dawn of the new millennium witnessed various manifestation of discontentment demonstrated on a patron client relationship with increasing frequency and intensity bordering on participation, political security, and peace as it torpedoes, the consolidation of democratic governance and dividends in the country.

The development of democracy in any country in the world depends largely on the nature of politics being played by the power brokers of such countries, Nigeria has the potentials to become one of the most develop democratic country of the world, and for it to occupy such position, it must transform its political system, integrate the people, regulate the amount of money to be spent during elections and also stopping of vote buying during election through constitution amendment.

However one is deeply surprised that fifty (50) years after Independence Nigeria’s democratic development continues to be hampered by money politics, politics of godfatherism and bad leadership, our leaders buys votes, manipulates election result, tell lies under oath and trust in deceitful word, they make promises and break them. Okeye (2010) maintains that “what Nigerians needs now is  good and God-fearing leaders, who will work hard to raise the standard of living of the people, transform the society and enact policies that would give all Nigerians a sense of oneness”. Some of the challenges of the development of democracy in Nigeria include money politics, politics of godfatherism, bad leadership and politics of winner-takes-all.

There are two problems with the relationship between politics and development in Nigeria. Firstly, there is the fact that people who know how to win elections, often do not know how to rule and those who know how to rule often do not know how to win elections. Secondly, politics operate within a shorter time frame the development (Merije, 2010).

The contradiction between those who know how to get power and those who know how to use it is one of the curses of the Nigeria society. Several attempts have been made to resolve this contradiction by creating all sorts of alliance between power brokers and technocrats. Former presidents Babangida and Obasanjo employed this model in consolidating their cabinets with technocrat but then the country was not developed democratically. Amadi (2008) contended that “politics is the handmaiden of leadership and development”. He went further to state that if we fix politics we fix the leadership crisis at the heart of the failure of development.

The problem with politics in Nigeria is that it has refused to escape the path dependency of the past. Until there is a discontinuation of the politics of the past based on atavistic politics culture and hierarchical and conservative norms, and inauguration of new politics of value and integrity, there will be no meaningful democratic development in the country (Adejumobi, 2000).

The nature in which our political office holders and political leaders came into office determines the level of democratic development in the country. As mentioned above, the alliance between power brokers and technocrats can never be true. Their under-lying motives are too different. At some point, the technocrats is going to insist that the resources the power brokers wants diverted towards patronage politics should go into investment. That is where the problem starts. As long as the power broker is first a politician and then a reformer, his rapacious need for resources to oil, his political machinery will always, eventually derail democratic development. Democratic development can only be spread rapidly if the technocrat should successfully build his own political platform. This research work aims at investigating the Influence Of The Politics Of Godfatherism On The Development Of Democracy In Nigeria.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

One major problem to the development of democracy in Nigeria is the difficulty in understanding the character of political godfathers in the past and its contemporary forms in the Nigeria Fourth Republic attempts by scholars to define, categorize, qualify or quantify political godfatherism in Nigeria have led to a huge body of literature consistently published in attempt to explain it causal factors, processes and constraints Godfatherism in Nigeria politics is a contest between elitism and democracy elitism, as Welsh (1979) argued, is a system in which the exercise of political control by a small number of persons is institutionalized in the structure of government and political study.

The Nigeria situation however makes it possible for both sub-elite and non-elite to become recruited into the political class, as long as they can meet the parochial conditions for such a recruitment exercise. The typical godfather in Nigeria politics basically seeks to manipulate state officials and institutions for his own interest. Conflicts occur only when their clients refuse to be manipulated. This kind of situation does not augur well for the development and growth of any democratic processes.

Since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999 in Nigeria, Nigerians have witnessed uncontrollable political insecurity which had threatened participatory democracy, peace, political security rind the consolidation of democracy as a result of the activities of the political godfathers who sponsored the intimidation of electorate, buy vote, manipulate election results, impose candidates on the electorate and undermine the entire electoral processes thereby rendering individual vote irrelevant. Also, the unregulated funding of political parties in Nigeria and absence of strict monitoring of political parties expenditure had greatly influence the development of democracy in Nigeria. This issue had generated a growing body of analysis and prescriptions on what has gone wrong and what should be done in the Nigeria democracy (Gideon, 2010).

The dominant strands of analytical exposition have appeared prominent in the political intellectual circle. Experience has however, shown that the application of the concept of Godfatherism has mostly resulted in democratic failure and disasters: from denial of electing credible candidates to imposition of mediocrity in political and appointed position and the whole experience has been the pain, misery, penury, squalor and damnation arising from poor performance and poor service delivery among godson (Hunjenukon, 2011). The point that needs to be reiterating here is the difficulty in understanding the character of political godfatherism in the past and its contemporary forms in the Nigerian’s Fourth Republic. It is against this backdrop that the research questions below become sacrosanct.

1.3       Research Questions

Three research questions were formulated to guide the study namely:

  1. How does politics of godfatherism affects the development of democracy in Nigeria?
  2. How are patronage politics and vote buying affect the choice of candidates in election processes?
  3. Can the electoral act provide the necessary foundation for party finance reform?

1.4       Objectives of the Study

General objective:

To determine the Influence Of The Politics Of Godfatherism On The Development Of Democracy In Nigeria.

Specific objectives:

(a)       To determine the impact of politics of godfatherism on the development of democracy in Nigeria.

(b)       To determine the influence of patronage politics and vote buying in the development of democracy in Nigeria.

(c)       To determine the influence of unregulated funding of political parties and candidates on the development of democracy in Nigeria.

1.5       Hypotheses

The following were the hypotheses formulated that guide this study.

(1)       The politics of godfatherism tends to enhance conflict between political parties in Nigeria.

(2)       Patronage politics tends to prevent the right and qualified candidates from contesting for political positions in Nigeria.

(3)       Unregulated funding of political parties and candidates tends to destroy legitimate election processes in Nigeria.


Influence Of The Politics Of Godfatherism On The Development Of Democracy In Nigeria

1.6       Significance of the Study

This study will be of benefit to our political office holders and political leaders. Politicians, students, researchers and the general public. The study will be of benefit to our political office holders and political leaders in that they will be exposed to the fact that democratic development of the country depends on the nature in which they came into offices. Besides, the study will help them to realize that the office they occupy is a public office, as such, policies formulated and implemented should be at the public interest. To the politicians, the study will enable them to be aware of the fact that democratic development of the country is at the mercy of politics until individual votes are considered relevance in our political process, there will be no meaningful democratic development.

Considering the students, the study will be beneficial in that they will be made to know that participant political culture is needed in the country for rapid democratic development. According to Agarwal (2006) “participant political culture is one in which people are quite keen to participate in the political system and influence its working”.

The study will serve as a reference material to other reporters writing on similar topic the findings and recommendations of this study will help the general public to know the major problem that affects the development of democracy in Nigeria and the modalities for providing solution will be stated.

1.7       Scope of the Study

The scope of this work is limited to the Fourth Republic in Nigeria.

1.8       Limitation of the Study

The study was so delimited due to finance and time constraints.

Influence Of The Politics Of Godfatherism On The Development Of Democracy In Nigeria

1.9       Definition of Terms

Politics: All the activities which are directly or indirectly associated with the seizure of state power, the consolidation of the state power and the use of state power.

Democracy: Democracy is a form of government organized in accordance with the principles of popular sovereignty, political and economic equality, popular consultation and majority rule.

Godfatherism: Is a symbolic relationship between two persons namely the godfather and the godson, where the godfather uses his political power and wealth to secure political position for the son, who upon ascension into power, pays gratification to his mentor in kind or in cash.

Development: is the series of changes which ensure the democratic right of the masses to participate in public affairs is recognized, accepted and implemented in every aspect of political life as well as to work ways and means of ensuring that this participation takes place in the interest of the masses.

Fourth Republic: Democratic processes that took place in the country (Nigeria) from 1999 till date.

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