Senator Godswill Akpabio

Failed Politics Of Godfatherism In Nigeria And Emergent Defections

(By Iheanyi Ezinwo)-Politics is all about competition for political power. To achieve power, people employ different means and ways. While some traditional, others are novel, and sometimes outrageous like the taking of oaths before shrines as a check against rebellion by those who are professing loyalty in order to gain the support of godfathers.
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes government that is a product of a free and fair election. Where the spirit and letter of the law is followed, only popular aspirants to political offices win elections but that has not been the experience in Nigeria because of interferences, and in some cases subversion of the process by godfathers to favour their stooges.
Although the processes of leadership succession in Nigeria at all levels are clearly stated in the constitution and other relevant documents, they are largely obeyed in breach by some powerful individuals or clique who believe they must decide who gets what in the state, region or nation.
While some have been able to manipulate the system successfully, others have not been that lucky. No sooner have they installed someone into office of governor for instance, than a fight ensured over unwillingness of the godson to take orders from the godfather, resulting into crises of different proportions and, in some cases, parting of ways, politically.
From Kano state where Senator Musa Kwankwanso is at war with Governor Abdulahi Ganduje, his anointed at a time, to Akwa Ibom where Senator Godswill Akpabio has defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress, parting ways with Governor Emmanuel Udom he fought so hard to enthrone, the story is the same – of clash of interests and allegations of betrayal of trusts. All these upheavals in some states in Nigeria are happening because of the shift of loyalty of office seekers from the electorates to individuals.
Curiously, the same politicians who rode to power on the back of their godfathers suddenly see their benefactors as a threat that must be dealt with, and they have been doing just that. However, it does appear that the godfathers are unable to correctly interpret the handwriting on the wall, and by the time they realize that the game is up, that they have been pushed out, they resort to defecting to the opposing political party, from where they hope to mobilize forces to root out the already entrenched office holders.
Interestingly, while some states are in crises, states like Lagos and Delta have been able to manage their leadership succession satisfactorily, even when non seasoned politicians are brought in and favored over and above known faces in the political space. All said, politics should be a vehicle for individuals who understand the feelings and aspirations of the citizens to provide services that will enhance their welfare through the making of laws and provision of infrastructure in a peaceful environment. However, overtime, it does appear that the motivation for political offices in Nigeria has shifted from service to the people, to personal enrichment of the aspirants, the reason why many now see politics as a do or die enterprise.
The consequence is that, we have politicians, who are only interested in power but hates the corresponding responsibility, and because, with the support of their godfathers, they are able to skew the leadership succession process in their favour, they attempt to hold on to power at all costs, opening the field for men of violence, and scaring away ordinarily more competent persons, with peaceful disposition. This is the contradiction in leadership succession in Nigeria.
The experience has been that, godfathers, who allege betrayal from their successors, suddenly fall apart with their hitherto loyal servants. The next thing is that, the aggrieved godfather suddenly becomes a major source of distraction to the government, turning their backs against peace, reconciliation and justice.
In the last few days, the accounts of two states, Benue and Akwa Ibom in Nigeria were frozen over what some have alleged to be moves by aggrieved political godfathers in the ruling party to frustrate the state governors who have fallen out with them. Thank God for the report of the lifting of the embargo on Benue state accounts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday. The government of that state had gone to court to challenge the illegality, but that of Akwa Ibom, imposed shortly after the defection of Senator Akpabio on Wednesday, is yet to be lifted at the time of this writing.
To us, the way forward is for Nigerian politicians to shun dictatorial tendencies and allow the people to chose who leads them. This is because, all those who demonstrated dictatorial tendencies when they were in office will never be given the space by their successors to remain in control once they are out of that office.
Those who professed loyalty yesterday in order to get into political offices will only reckon with the godfather if he is seen to be relevant in their future ambitions, else they will shut them out. Servants of yesterday, who have suddenly become masters want to consolidate their hold on power, and would not brook opposition from any quarters. This situation sees the godfather losing control over of his former servant and the resources of the state.
What many political godfathers fail to realize is that political loyalty is only tied to motives, and as soon as that motive is achieved, the godfather, in some cases becomes irrelevant, because every servant who becomes a master wants to be independent: a master in word and in deed. We saw it in Kwara state where Bukola Saraki, as a governor, refused to pander to the whims and caprices of his biological father, Oluisola Saraki
It was John Action who said that, “There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it”, because, according to him, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and that, “great men are almost bad men”.
Besides, we cannot agree less with Ray Ekpu that, “All dictators suffer from one affliction, Magalomania; a sense of being omnipotent. The longer they stay in power the more deeply they are consumed by the desire to stay on. In the process, they do not see when the chickens come to roost, when the writings are on the wall, when the end is near”.
Our position is that, time has come for Nigerians to take away power to chose leaders from the godfathers and freely determine for themselves who leads them. Hopefully, we are getting there, with the improvements in our electoral process to enhance the role of the citizens in the emergence of leaders of their choice. As politicians move from one political party to another seeking for favourable platforms to advance their ambitions in 2029, Nigerians must show more than a passing interest in the political process, by ensuring that only fit and proper persons are voted into office. It is our inalienable right!

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