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Obligations of a godson


In the last one year the mills of unofficial communications have been awash with the main godson in Lagos subtly trying to outwit or reduce the influence of the godfather.<br />Photo: The Guardian Nigeria

The godson is in tears; tears from the soul.

His acolytes have thronged the godfather’s house. Begging is on. Amnesty please, amnesty. Grant amnesty to your godson!

He lies prostrate on the floor; stomach on the floor like the crawling lizard. Have mercy on me, dear godfather of many sons, have mercy!


I was carried away by the trappings of power. 

I ate too much pounded yam laced with the power aphrodisiac. Do not turn your back on me.

Smile at me again as you did before. I will do your bidding. Remember how I tipped you off when my predecessor had bad plans for you?

I am ready to return to the Edenic scene of pristine beauty and peace.  

The godfather looks the other way; he is silent. In his ominous deadly silence the rabble forces take over.

It has gone beyond me, the godfather says. Go to the market square and test your strength with the people of the party.

The godson has decided to dance alone without the support of the godfather.

The dance is not a graceful one. It is scattered like the dance of a man with knocked knees.


No matter how randy or lecherous a man is, he does not take delight staring at his mother’s nakedness!

It is simple logic to assert that once there is a godfather in a family or in the polity, there must be a godson.

Godson! A godson is a favoured person. Favoured not because of any defined merit. Favoured because of his abiding loyalty.

Usually we have more godsons in society than godfathers; this is because a godfather can create more than one son.

Indeed the more they are the merrier it is for the superstructure of the world of godfatherism.

It means that there will be many more people in strategic positions that can be called upon to reciprocate the godfather’s goodwill.

Also it is possible to have more than one godfather in a system.

But one of the godfathers is the biggest of them all, he is the ‘Baba’, the ‘Olorioko’, the ‘Olorogun’, the ‘Ogbologbo’ or the ‘Ogbu’.


Although godfatherism can negatively affect a system, once a man or woman accepts to be a godson/goddaughter, there are certain obligations that must be met.

This is the matter I have brought to the market square today – the obligations of a godson!
All godsons ought to, must, and are obliged to understand the code of conduct in inter-personal behaviour.

They must know those who are friends with the godfather; they must know those who are friends with the friends of the godfather; they must know the godfather’s girlfriends and concubines; they must serve the First Lady with great care.

Why should a godson treat the pastor of a former first lady with ridicule? Why should he sack the sister of his predecessor for no solid reason?

As for the godfather’s parents, they automatically become first citizens.

What about the men and women who serve the godfather? The strong men of the godfather, the enforcers?

They must be serviced by a loyal godson.

The godfather hands over the reins of economic power so that the system may service these diehards; these men and women who are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the party.


The most important rule in the relationship between godfather and godson is loyalty; absolute loyalty that is.

Godsons must know where the real power lies in the unwritten contract between father and son.

As a governor made by a godfather, you are obliged to carry the governor along in all major decisions.

You are also expected to protect his interest. If you must alter existing arrangements it must be with the approval of the godfather.
In the last one year the mills of unofficial communications have been awash with the main godson in Lagos subtly trying to outwit or reduce the influence of the godfather.

Once he got into office, he went after the loyalists to the former chief executive.

He fired some, transferred some to remote places generally to weaken the godfather’s hold on the people, on power.

He is said to have adopted an expression ‘Mo to l’ori’, meaning ‘I have beheaded him”.

Gleefully beheading loyalists to the godfather? Does that show gratefulness in the African tradition of acknowledging the godfather’s benevolence?


Of course such actions can only generate bad blood between godfather and godson.

It is the forever-living Chinua Achebe who quoted our elders as asserting in their wisdom that ‘You should/must not bite the finger that feeds you’.

Picture the teeth of a godson coming down on the fingers which food to the mouth. When LAWMA was displaced as the main refuse collector in Lagos we were puzzled.

Of course we waited with extreme patience to see whether Visionscape would perform magic. Alas! We were hoping against hope.

Apart from its inefficiency, it took bread from the mouths of party loyalists in the land.

Lagos became unbearably dirty and smelly, with refuse uncollected for weeks.

A true godson does not create parallel structures to his master’s; except he is ready for a showdown.

Our elders say that we do not prevent our kids from growing long teeth.


All we ask is that he should grow lips long enough to cover the protruding teeth. Perhaps hubris set in.

New friends came applauding. Challenge your chi to a fight. His own is too much. Who is he sef?

And the godson fell into the pit of sycophancy, tried to shave the godfather’s head in his absence!

All godsons are indebted to their godfathers. Period.

No sane Nigerian should encourage the creation of demagogues in our polity.

But if you are a beneficiary of a godfather you have to play by the rule. The consequence of denigrating a powerful godfather is loss of position.

In the end neither godfatherism nor godsonism is healthy for our longsuffering polity.

The people who have the voters’ card should have the final say on who becomes their representative at any level.

That is where we should march to in the next dispensation, the new Nigeria that we hope to create from the ashes of the old.

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