By Usman Muhammad Salihu
Nigeria has long been known for its political culture of godfatherism, which refers to a system in which a powerful politician or group of politicians wield significant control over the political fortunes of others. The practice of godfatherism has been a defining feature of Nigerian politics for decades, and it has been blamed for perpetuating corruption, stifling democratic participation, and hindering economic growth and development.
Godfatherism in Nigeria is typically characterised by a system in which a powerful politician, usually an incumbent governor or party leader, sponsors and funds the candidacy of a less-established politician or aspirant for an elected office. In exchange, the godfather expects loyalty and a significant portion of the proceeds from the office once the candidate is elected.
This system has become deeply entrenched in Nigerian politics, and it has produced a political class that is more interested in personal gain and self-preservation than in serving the needs and interests of the people. The consequences of godfatherism are numerous and far-reaching, and they include:
Corruption: Godfatherism promotes corruption in the political system, as the godfather expects a significant return on their investment in the candidate. This often leads to a cycle of corruption, where the candidate engages in corrupt practices to satisfy the demands of the godfather.
Lack of accountability: The godfather system creates a culture of impunity in which elected officials feel less accountable to the people they represent. This lack of accountability undermines the credibility of the democratic process and perpetuates a culture of political apathy among citizens.
Stifling of democracy: Godfatherism stifles the growth of democracy by limiting the ability of independent-minded candidates to contest for political office. This limits the choices available to voters and undermines the democratic process.
Economic stagnation: The godfather system discourages economic growth and development by favouring candidates more interested in their gain than in implementing policies that will benefit the economy.
Social inequality: The godfather system reinforces social inequality by favouring candidates from privileged backgrounds or with access to financial resources. This leaves many citizens without a voice in the political process and perpetuates a system of elitism.
Given the many negative consequences of godfatherism, it is clear that this practice must be abolished if Nigeria is to realise its full potential as a democratic and prosperous nation. This will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including politicians, civil society organisations, the media, and the general public.
To achieve this goal, Nigeria must strengthen its democratic institutions, including the judiciary and the electoral system, to ensure they are more independent and less susceptible to external influence. Additionally, there must be greater awareness and mobilisation of the public to demand accountability and transparency from elected officials.
In conclusion, the mentality of godfatherism in Nigeria must be abolished if the country is to achieve its full potential. This will require a long-term commitment to strengthening democratic institutions, promoting accountability and transparency, and mobilising the public to demand change. With a concerted effort from all stakeholders, Nigeria can move beyond the politics of godfatherism and towards a more democratic and prosperous future.
Usman Muhammad Salihu wrote from the Mass Communication department, Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic, Bauchi State. He can be contacted via email@example.com.
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