Alfred Adler wouldn’t have been more right when he said men of genius are admired, men of wealth are envied, men of power are feared but only men of character are trusted. One would wonder who the real men are when it comes to politics in Nigeria. No doubt that our polity has been destroyed by the political slave merchants whose morality, sanity, and humanity has evaporated. In forests where rapine has replace respect, the arrow would leave the bow especially where old fox had beaten other young ones to the game. It is very possible to enthrone a king, it is not possible to reign for the king. The reign of a king in this palace has reduced the palace to a mere body and not a kingdom in spirit. This is evident by the impunity that has been swaggered into the system of our governance by the kingmakers- the king makers of circumstance.
The phenomenon styled ‘godfatherism’ in Nigeria fits into what Richard Joseph, persuasively described as ‘prebendal politics,’ where primitive accumulation is exalted far and above the interest of the people. Therefore, the relationship that exists between the godfather and the godson can be described as exploitative and total subversion of the will of the people. It is more than the ruthless Mario Puzo’s kingpins in the Italian Mafia setting. It is a game- a game of who goes wins the chess game and the chess board. While the fictional godfather is characterized as a shadowy, dare-devil recluse, who combines immense underworld financial muscle with near mythical powers of enormous proportions, which is to attain a further greasing of the ever-increasing vast financial empire, the Nigeria type has the added characterization of conceit, ego, loquacity, pettiness, envy, strife, crudity, and confusion. It is between the two major party: the party that parties in the midst of uncertainties and the one that is ‘desperate’ to change something. The godfather in the Nigeria politics is a political slave merchant while the godson is the political article for sale. Sad enough, this article, like an average goodwill be offered, but there is no negotiation on its acceptance- the masses must buy it or pay with their sweat and blood. They transacts the good will of the people for personal benefits. They’ve converted politics from a civil engagement to an enterprise where only the moneybags are beneficiaries. Not even the votes of the masses make the polity right in so far they are at realm of affairs.
Godfatherism is a welcome development in decent political playground. The young cannot grow all on his own. The young has to go under the tutelage of an experienced and elderly statesman to acquire the skill of governance and imbibe the charisma of his godfather as political ingredients in his career as a well groomed politician. For example, Chief Obafemi Awolowo mentored millions of Yoruba political figures without mortgaging the interest of the Western Region; Alhaji Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa mentored many northerners without extracting any economic benefits from the region; Sir Odumegwu Ojukwu mentored Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who in turn groomed many younger politicians without using them as stooges (or state money-making-machines). Godparents are usually chosen, adopted and to raise Christian children to become God-fearing, law abiding and responsible individuals in society. There is no doubt that even at present, some individuals care and raise godsons who are responsible citizens of this country. However most of the rising political servants of today are products of two main godfathers-Obasanjo and Tinubu.
To illumine this thought, it is sufficient to highlight the darkness of inexcusable backwardness the godfathers has done to us despite the country’s enviable resources and the darkness of official corruption that is a veritable blight on the land. My major concern here is based on two major actions by two men of timber and calibre. A particular sin committed separately is having effect on us right now and the youths must learn to avoid such mistakes in future politicking.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a great-grand political merchant got the opportunity more than anybody else to provide pristine leadership for the younger generations and recruit leaders who would have bettered the affairs of this country for good. As president for first 8-years of hard won democracy, one would expect him to know the exact type of leader that Nigerian deserves. He’s a typical godfather in our polity, forgetting the drama of the things fall apart display with PDP. He was a chance encounter. He uses his chances as he did when he brought Jonathan and Yaradua. The incumbent is a product of Obasanjo’s godfatherism. It was never our vote and even if it was our votes, factors like Obasanjo played big roles in ensuring the successful emergence at the polls. Many voted not based on antecedents but based on those behind the President. With what Obasanjo has brought us, we are where we are. Whether for good or bad. We all can decide whether we want more or not. If reality should sets in, many don’t want more of a rotten pie of governance. A new pie made from a new flour of governance is what they crave for. A godfather has left a nation clamouring for change even without a clue on what it may birth.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a grand-godfather that is also guilty of a major sin that most people forgot so soon. This particular sin, is causing us more now in this polity, forgetting his championed cause of a better Nigeria. He emerged a de-facto in our national politics after the June 12 episode. The episode saw an attempt to breakup Nigeria as a result of an ‘injury’ to southwest. Asiwaju then emerged the Generalissimo of a wounded southwest uninterested in national unity. Asiwaju was probably comfortable as Asiwaju of Yorubas and enjoyed the support of Yoruba leaders and elites until he chose to see issues from broader perspectives. Asiwaju humbled southwest for GEJ in 2011 because he was not inclined to sustaining national unity. Are we going to conclude that it as a result of some ‘gift’ as believed in some quarters or the civilian generalissimo was greater than such? I rather understand that he was then yet to be convinced that we should all pursue the course of united Nigeria. He acted the script of the southwest “regionalists” to the letter and was applauded behind doors. This is a great sin to our polity. What would have been the product of a good campaigner of change to have delivered the southwest to CPC even if not for ACN, the party he led? The game, the story and players would have been different.
The above sins goes a long way to determine the fate of this country in one way or the other. More especially it does in a visible way. Imagine what these country would have been without Goodluck Jonathan as the Vice Presidential candidate to Yar’Adua. Imagine what this county would have been if another governor from the South-east deputised Yar’Adua. What was the sin of other PDP governors and deputy governors at that area? Where they all corrupt or not loyal to have the ability to deputise Yaradua? These are some questions Obasanjo must answer before bowing out of the main polity. If Asiwaju had love Nigerians more than every other thing and believe we needed change, he should deliver the Southwest generally to CPC considering that latter cover wider range have more possibility of winning 2011 polls than the party he led. These acts of our political merchants goes a long way. It’s time for us to think and not be used in these politicking. It’s time for us to do away with sentiments and vote freely. Even if the godfathers present to us politicians that are not worthy, they should be rejected outrightly. Enough of failed God political sons or failed political decisions to benefit one’s pocket than the polity.
Most of the political godfathers have failed to provide Nigerian youths with the leadership template that will make us to remain healthy in politics neither have they done main things that can consequently make them retire from planet Nigeria has celebrated hero and small political god.
Yet, one must note that with the right mindset, one would see this godfathers as a blessing in disguise. Yes, they have milked us beyond recognition. But still, the memories of that should afford us the mindset to choose wisely. The decision of a godfather gave us the sandy rice in our plates. The decision of another presents an uncertain alternative- which is better? A stroll down the memory lane would tell. If the realization of an urgent need to undo certain misdeeds is the driving force of the two leaders, I may wish to suggest to Nigerian youths that ours is not yet a hopeless situation. Circumstances have changed people more than sermons have.
(WHYTE HABEEB IBIDAPO is a Lawyer, United Nations Award winner, Africa International Arbitration Award winner and Coca cola/ The Nation Campuslife Award Winner.
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