Nigerian political godfathers at war – Part 2
In 2015, the then erstwhile military head of state who has continuously been recycled within the corridors of powers from the 1970’s, General Muhammadu Buhari was sponsored by top shots and godfathers such as Senator Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, Bukola Saraki and several other rebellious governors who moved from the ruling PDP to form a coalition called All Progressives Congress. As preparation begins for next year’s poll, the influences of these political godfathers have even become much more forceful even as in many instances, these godfathers are currently waging political battles of supremacy with those surrogates and stooges they imposed as political office holders in all the mainstream and regional parties.
In the ruling All Progressives Congress, even the incumbent picked up nomination form of N45 million bought and paid for by some political godfathers who detailed their errand boys and girls to deliver the forms at the presidential villa. A story was even told that the errand boys/girls who delivered the presidential nomination form to President Muhammadu Buhari were given generous transportation allowances from the presidential treasury. However, the incumbent president has behind him all those same political godfathers who had bankrolled his first campaign prior to his pyrrhic victory in 2015. The PDP parade too many of those political godfathers who hitherto conspired in 2015 to deliver victory to Buhari. These godfathers are battling for presidential ticket in PDP because their erstwhile party APC has shut them out and has conceded the ticket to the incumbent.
There is however too many dimensions of political battles between political godfathers and their hitherto political sons and stooges. In Lagos, Akwa Ibom and Kano and to a large extent, in Sokoto, the political godfathers are baying for blood and for a perfect revenge of perceived lack of loyalty by these stooges they had supplanted in offices. Mr. Godswill Akpabio who won election as senator to represent his side of Akwa Ibom had installed someone perceived or alleged to be his business front who was a top executive of Zenith Bank Mr. Udom Emmanuel as his successor in office as governor. For three years, rumours of discord between the godfather, Akpabio and his god son Mr. Emmanuel became sensational.
The battle between the Akwa Ibom godfather and his godson led to what is now an open confrontation following the departure and defection of the godfather to the party that produced the president which also calls the shots regarding who would be arrested and prosecuted for alleged financial crimes by the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC).
Akpabio is alleged to be facing multiple charges of fraud amounting to over N100 billion but his hurried departure to All Progressives Congress is interpreted as his last ditch effort to avoid going to prison. Akpabio’s defection has opened the political battle fronts between himself as his former trusted ally and the 2019 poll is expected to be topsy truvy.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not in good terms with his political godson governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State. Tinubu has reportedly asked his boy, Mr. Ambode not to run for a second term and has anointed another of his boy, Mr. Jide Sanwolu to replace Ambode. But the Lagos fights of the political godfathers are in two dimensions. Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola whom he brought into political fame are now rivals in such a way that Fashola has now become a godfather who has picked Femi Hamzat to run for office of governor to challenge Tinubu’s estranged boy, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. In Imo State, the battle is between Rochas Okorocha whose eight years’ stint in office has witnessed the worst kind of misrule, is propping up his son-in-law, Mr. Uche Nwosu to succeed him. Rochas, however, faces stiff fight both within the APC and the external camps made up of PDP and APGA, a party that has witnessed phenomenal resurgence in the South East of Nigeria.
These fights of the political godfathers are about who would gain access to the resources of the people to embark on widespread plunder and looting. The welfare of the people is none of the business of these predatory political godfathers. Political godfathers behave true to their name. ‘Godfatherism’ is a term used in Nigeria to describe the strongman-dominated politics in the country (Albert 2005, Animasawun, 2013; Orji and Uzodi, 2012). Onu and Biereenu – Nnabugwu (2008, P.57) assert that ‘politics is seen as means of attaining wealth than as a process of service’ and that ‘godfatherism in Nigeria politics is behaviour in which economically, politically and socially well-placed individuals influence political and economic processes (see Joseph, 1987). The way to end the influences of godfatherism is for the electoral process to be reformed to make the role of money insignificant and to return sovereignty to the people of Nigeria in line with the constitutional provision.
These reforms of the electoral system must happen so that only those persons who are ready to serve the people selflessly are recruited by the electorate to occupy public offices. The fight to achieve these reforms will be bloody but it seems the people of Nigeria are not ready to wage the battles of our life time but are busy chasing after bread and butter and most electorate have started selling their votes to these same predatory political godfathers. A political revolution is needed and Nigerians need persons of exceptional charisma to mobilise them to take back our country. “For good governance to prevail, the consent of the people that make up the political community must be obtained before establishing the political community. Note that in multiethnic and multilingual communities, this is one major step towards good governance. It is source of instability and strife where neglected. The essence of consent is strategic to good governance. It is the bedrock for defining basis of association in political community.
It is a leverage for discussing and agreeing upon the covenant between the people and there would be leaders. It offers the opportunity of defining the agenda of governance. The minorities in the political community in the covenant are assured of their political rights. The sharing of power among the component or units of the political community will be given exhaustive definition” (See the book; ‘Good Governance theory and practice’ by Samuel Anayochukwu Eziokwu).
I share these same sentiments. Nigerians please wake up and repossess your country.
Onwubiko is head, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
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