Political godfathers at war

Posted by News Express | 19 September 2018 | 1,238 times

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The typical Nigerian campaign circle revolves around the influence or formidable reach of persons who parade around as political king-makers or what is generally termed as political godfathers.

Looking at it from another perspective, one can assert that the single issue that has come to define and dominate the typical electioneering periods in Nigeria, right from post-independence period up until 2018, has always been the conversations around the influences and powers of political godfathers to successfully hand-pick their stooges who would be anointed to run for one political office or the other. 

Politics is obviously the biggest business in Nigeria: because those who wield political powers at the centre determines who gets what; and the redistribution of national wealth is skewed in favour of the less than 2 per cent of the populace that constitutes the power-making elite. 

These persons hold courts in their magnificent private mansions erected from the resources of the entire federation while they were actively controlling the top-most echelons of political power. In retirement from political offices, these fellows are still regarded as king-makers or political godfathers. Some have regional spheres of influence, while others are in charge all around the country. 

The self-centred interest of this tiny political cabal has unfortunately become the centre of attraction during political campaigns. 

These godfathers with national influences are usually visited by persons seeking the tickets of the two dominant political parties: the Peoples Democratic Party  (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC). They also own significant stakes in the influential media industry. 

These godfathers sometimes combine their positions as traditional and religious leaders, and essentially most of them have linkages to former powerful military Generals. The military called the shots in Nigeria's politics for nearly three decades. 

In other words, what is conventional about campaigns in civilised societies - like the United Kingdom, Germany, much of continental Europe and the United States of America - is not what worries aspirants to political offices in Nigeria. In those civilised entities, those who seek elective offices have it at the back of their minds that the welfare and wellbeing of the people should define the kernels of their campaigns. 

Even in the United States of America whereby there are popular voters and the electoral college which can be likened to an exclusive class of political elite or elitist constituents, the people and what will make them generally happy and to live meaningful lives is at the core of their campaign messages. America and much of Western Europe are at home with the theory and practice of utilitarianism, whereby the greatest happiness for the greatest number governs their political ideology. 

In contemporary times, one can speak of certain influential families in the United States of America, for instance, that can be likened to members of political dynasties by virtue of their remarkable successes recorded in such families in terms of the calibre of office-holders from such families, but by and large there is an absence of political godfathers. 

There are such families as the Kennedy, the Bush and the Clintons. Senator John McCain, who recently died from brain cancer, was an institution politically. For instance, if political dynasties or godfathers were to be instrumental to who picks the tickets of the two major US parties - Republican and Democrats – then, a rookie and total outsider like Donald Trump could not have succeeded in becoming the candidate of the Republican party, who proceeded to win the election by defeating the Democratic party that presented Mrs Hilary Clinton, who can be considered as a member of one of America’s illustrious political dynasties.  Hilary became both a senator representing parts of New York and Secretary of State before and during the Barack Obama's presidency. Obama was an unknown quantity when he emerged the first-ever African American president, which tells you that the voters are the real owners of the sovereignty of the USA. 

In Nigeria, you need the backing and support of political godfathers to stand a fighting chance of standing for elective positions of all categories, even for such a lowly-rated position as that of local government councillor.

Development economists and political analysts have come to reckon that the over-bearing influences of these godfathers are to blame for the sorry state of our politics and the terrible economic downturns. 

Political godfatherism has stiffled democracy at the local government level: Governors who are godfathers in the 36 states violate the Constitution with impunity by hand-picking their errand-boys and mistresses as council officials. Besides, revenue from the Federation Account that should go directly to local governments for the development of local infrastructure ends up in what is called joint accounts, which are stolen by most governors.

•RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist (www.huriwanigeria.com, www.emmanuelonwubiko.com), is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).


Source: News Express

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