Oshiomole’s travail and the burden of political godfatherism
Godfatherism is a nasty and cynical phenomenon that has existed from time immemorial in every facet of human endeavor. However, in politics, it is a sui generis practice because it involves some tricks, intrigues and astute practice for its sustainability and survival. It is patently believed, factual, however, that for one to have a steady and meteoric rise in political career in Nigeria, one must be loyal to his political chi called godfather.
This loyalty must be unwavering and unqualified to the extent that even if one is called to come and take bullets on behalf of one’s godfather, a NO should not be an answer! In most cases, political godfathers are instrumental to bringing political godsons from a position of relatively unknown to achieving the seemingly impossible. They are indeed the miners who excavate the rusting diamond untapped under the rock. A political observer once alluded that, godfatherism has become a scary phenomenon in Nigeria politics. This is because godfathers have sustained reputations for deploying their wealth to secure parties’ nominations for candidates of their choices, sponsor their elections including manipulating the electoral processes with a view to actualizing their personal aggrandizement.
This dominant political culture has not only been sustained by the privileged few, but has become so perverse and is today a major source of tension and political instability in developing nations. These godfathers make or mar, configure or disfigure, design or destroy, they are indeed the political panoramas. Barely, some weeks ago, the Edo state APC’s crisis got brewed to certain point of climax when in an event to mark the convocation of the Edo state university, Iyamoh, the National chairman was attacked by some tugs purportedly to have been sponsored by the state’s deputy governor. In its sanction, the party at the state level was reportedly said to have suspended its national chairman, a decision many political observers termed as sheer farce.
Suspension of party members is not new phenomenon in politics, however, what alarmed my patriotic sense of reasoning was the reaction of the supposedly suspended chairman’s lamentation. He gruntled and lamented that there was conspiracy among the grassroot politicians he mentored from his home country; the chief among the conspirators was the deputy governor, Philip Shaibu. In his “pitiable” lamentation, the former chief executive of the state vituperated that “ … the only thing I will say today to anyone who is here, who is an agent of my son; when I talk of my son, I am talking of Philip Shaibu who now thinks that his own political future requires that he attacks me and import thugs to disgrace me my village ….’’ He further stated that “… I am alive to see someone who did not win his own (polling) booth because his own people in his own village, his own community of Jattu did not want him because they apparently know him better than I do. But I stood by him, I stood for him and he became the deputy governor.”
To every objective public affairs analyst, who strongly believes in the canon of democracy; the prevalence of the majority’s will, one would agree without being biased that Mr. Oshiomole’s lamentation is nothing but self-indictment on his personality. What his statement conjures is that in spite of the public objection to the candidacy of his erstwhile political godson, Shaibu, he still called the bluff and indeed subverted the will of the majority of people in the state to his selfish and parochial greed. Indeed, Oshiomole deserves neither people’s sympathy nor the public empathy but rather unreserved apology to the good people of Edo state and Nigeria at large.
Godfatherism is a phenomenon that is basically for a sustained dominance and personal aggrandizement. None of the political godfathers in the world can sincerely commit themselves and vow that the undertone and the driven force behind the knack to build and nurture hegemony is basically for the good people of the state. Rather, what they stand to achieve is to build a lasting or permanent structure that will keep their parochial quests alive and forever, to their faintest and myopic beliefs. That is why when they are caught up by the constitutional requirement of limitation period, they tend to devise all means to circumvent such provision of the law in order to surreptitiously immortalize their political dynasty. In most cases they achieve this by enthroning their puppet, by subverting the will of the majority in the state at the detriment of the development of the society.
What this breed is nothing but claustrophobic political atmosphere. Perhaps, the fact remains that because they are humans; from the sociological and economic perspectives, man is said to be greedy with powers and they tend to corrupt absolutely when entrusted with absolutely powers. Therefore, it stands to reason to contemplate a situation where the greed and selfish interests of the political godfather and the quest and insatiability of the godsonclash. When this occurs, there are bound to exist a costing political rival war with attendant unintended effects. With Oshiomole’s self-indicting statement, it can as well be conjured that the candidacy of the executive governor of the state Godwin Obaseki was as well lorded over the people of the Edo state’s electorates or in defiance of the majority’s will in the state.
The questions that need be asked are that; what was Oshiomole’s interest in his choice for Philib Shaibu despite protest(s) from his kinsmen? Had the fall out or alleged “betrayal” not occurred would Oshiomole’s have confessed and cried foul for public sympathy? Conceding but not concurring to the fact that he had politically mentored a political son and the latter `had outsmarted him, what remedy has he devised in order to placate the good people of the state on whose detriment he had subjugated their wills and forcefully enthroned his political scions? One of the causes of continual existence of the debilitating phenomenon of godfatherism is corruption laced with the attendant effects of underdevelopment, mediocrity, reign of perversity and impunity, manipulation and disorderliness among other social vices. In his terse defence, Shaibu, took pride in the fact that he was actually a “proud” graduate of Oshiomole’s school of politics and he was only putting into practice what he had learnt from the Oshiomole’s school of politics.
Godfatherism as a bane militating against the development of our battered nation, has over years bred mediocre, sectionalism, incompetence, innocuous hegemony which have characterized the political space of mostly developing nations. Going through the archive of Nigerian political chronicle, one would agree with me that what has always been the cause of war between the godfathers and godsons is the control of state funds. These godfathers do not only finance the godsons’ political campaigns but also see to the continuous control of state allocations without considering whose ox is gored. They are individuals whose powers stem not just from states’ wealth but from their ability to develop violence and corruption to manipulate local, state and national political system in support of politicians they sponsor.
In return, they demand a substantial degree of control over the governments they help bring into power, not in order to shape government policies, but to exact direct financial “returns” in form of government resources siphoned by their protégés or indirectly influence lucrative government contract awarded to them as further opportunities to graft. The Lamidi Adedibu and Chris Uba ‘s reigns fit into perfect examples of this class of godfather. Therefore, when all these killing agreements are “breached” the godfather gruntled and christened these defaulters as betrayal; forgotten that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.
In conclusion, comrade Adams Oshiomole’s plight deserves public condemnation rather than public sympathy. In fact, to nail it poignantly, Oshiomole is the ipso facto betrayal who had betrayed the good people of the state, and indeed Nigerian constitution at large, having sworn to uphold the rule of law. He had sworn as the governor not to satisfy his parochial interest by lording his will over that of over 3 million citizens of Edo state. Definitely, a man that studies revenge keeps his own wounds green. Permit me to conclude by interpreting the latin maxim quoted at the prelude of this piece which goes thus “no one can derive benefit from his own wrong doing”.
Balogun, a legal practitioner wrote in from Lagos.