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Revenge of an angry godfather


Bola Tinubu, former Lagos state governor and All Progressives Congress (APC) leader, speaks at a party meeting in Abuja Febuary 17, 2015. To supporters Tinubu, a Yoruba Muslim, is a wily political operator with a passion for getting the job done and a knack for picking bright, committed technocrats to do it. To critics he is a ruthless godfather who doles out lucrative contracts to his friends’ firms, insists on installing his man in office and is capable of sending in street thugs if he fails to get his way. Picture taken Febuary 17, 2015. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

The godfather is angry. Angry with the ‘son’ he made; made from the ashes of a civil service career.

And he must have a pound of political flesh.

His anger, long quietly expressed, has come out with a smoking gun, no, a tornado of sorts!


And the other boys have rallied around him. I refer to the sons in the 25 local governments.

Revenge is here. Payback time! There is no atonement.

The one who for three-odd years held sway in the house of power must kowtow.

His days of rule are over. ‘Command no more,’ the Jagaban has told him, ‘for your reign is over.’ ‘And his place let another take,’ the good book says! This godson had it coming.

Sad that he didn’t see the moving train coming at full speed! The godfather has struck.

The godfather is a god; the godfather is the god of Eko politics.

No matter how small he is, you must pour libation with sufficient mammon of unrighteousness! Until you find your feet!
The word of the godfather is law, has been law will be law till eternity.

The people do not count. They have never really counted even though we count them at census.

They will do what he says. Or the polls will prove his say.


The polls will do his bidding. The party structure will obey his voice.

The General has spoken! Into the trenches he has commanded.

The instruments of manipulation are within his control. And there is nothing the godson can do.

Nothing the people can do but chew with infant gums! How did we get into this impasse?

My first encounter with the word ‘godfather’ was within the context of religion.

Though not a Catholic by any stretch of the imagination, I became interested in the concept of ‘godfatherism’.

My Catholic friends assured me that a godfather was the man who stood for them in loco parentis during baptism.

They took it so seriously that I was amused by it all. Godfather! Christian theology taught us that God was our father; that Jesus was a father too.


Indeed one of my juniors at Baptist High School Port Harcourt, in the throes of passion in Christian belief changed his name to Opuada Jesus.

I don’t know how his father, the man who biologically sired him, took all the drama.

Did he direct him to Jesus to pay his fees? Talk about taking the name of the Lord in vain!

I grew up in a church where baptism took place after one became an adult, when one could take individual decisions and accept responsibility for staying in the faith and so did not need any godfather.

My Catholic friends saw baptism as a tool for washing away sins.

And I asked: why was Christ baptized? Was he a sinner? There was no logical answer and we moved on to other less-tenuous, less-controversial topics and subjects.

It was the days in which we loved arguments, sometimes at street corners in Sapele defending the faith with the little knowledge that we had in those days- more passion than knowledge!


As we grew up we came to see and read about the godfather in very secular terms.

The godfather! Mario Puzo’s novel with that title was made into a movie and we got another concept of the godfather.

We came to hear that in Nigeria to get on in life you needed a godfather. That without a godfather you wouldn’t go far in life.

A powerful man with wealth or political connections could be one’s godfather.

In this context he was the man that could and would usually intervene in the life of a godson to change things positively.

You applied for a job? He would put a call through to the MD.

You wanted a place in an institution? He would swing it. You worked in an office where you needed to move? He would pull strings!

We came to confront godfathers as we entered the Nigerian world, at school, at work and in politics!


Godfatherism comes with a price, sometimes huge one!

Political godfathers! One of the political sons of a godfather once remarked that we should pray that our loyalty not to be tested. Hmmmm!

Loyalty. That’s a big one. Do you know what loyalty means?

Loyalty means staying committed to a cause or somebody no matter the circumstances or situation.

So if you are the product of a godfather you must be ready to service the big mouth of the godfather.

Godfathers are usually very ruthless, cold and calculating. They have the big picture in mind. They control structures and persons.

They can do damage and can do excellent things too. Like the godfather in Puzo’s mafia-based novel who saved or helped people and often later came back for a beneficiary to reciprocate the old gesture.

That call for reciprocation is always filled with menace- there will be consequences if you do not play ball; I put you there and I can bring you down. It is very clear.


Why are godfathers ruthless? It would seem that it is the way of godfathers to ensure that once you have benefitted you must pay back and that if you strayed and there was no repercussion others would go that way.

Godfathers usually have a structure to enforce rules. Sometimes they ruin the business of a rebellious son.

The ultimate is to order the killing of the stubborn rebel.

So, all beneficiaries of a benevolent godfather know or ought to know the game.

Except you are fully ready with the means, do not challenge the godfather. He will break your legs or neck or his boys will.

In politics the stakes are usually very high. There must be returns to the godfather either through contracts or personnel recruitment or whatever.

Some godfathers do not know when to stop. They could actually drive a godson crazy.

A godson who tries to steal a structure from his godfather asks for trouble.

It is true that some godsons have successfully challenged their godfathers.


As we write there are some godfathers who are licking their wounds after a bloody encounter with their successors.

Any godson who tries to outwit his master during his first tenure lacks foresight and wisdom.

Politicians sum it up in Pidgin English when they say ‘even oga get oga’, that is, ‘oga pass oga’!

Godfathers are real in our society bad as the practice is. They corrupt the system; yes they do. They could impose a less-competent person or even a moron on the rest of us.

But it’s a reality that we have to live with till the real change which we have prayed for comes.

In a democracy electing officials into office should not be the prerogative of godfathers.

In simple plain terms, ‘godfatherism’ is antithetical to the spirit of democracy.

If the people and opposition party were alive in Lagos this would have been a good opportunity to break a stranglehold!

The will of the people should not be subordinated to the caprices of one man or a cabal.

Until the Nigerian people pick up the hatchet and bury it in the head of a common enemy godfathers will continue to dominate the field and treat the rest of us like cattle.

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