Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nigeria General Elections 2011: Question and Answer

It is on record that elections in Nigeria in recent past have been characterized by different kinds of malpractices including rigging, thuggery, godfaterism, imposition of candidates, intimidation of voters, to killing of political opponents; these acts featured prominently in political party primaries and general election in the country especially in 2003 and 2007 elections were not free, fair and credible.

From recent happenings Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is working round the clock to deliver credible election to Nigerians in 2011 in order to eliminate "Polical Robbers" and bring incredible leaders that will ensure the development of Africa's most populous nation.

Description of Free and Fair Election 
An election is said to be free and credible when the process allows the electorate to vote for candidates of their choice and citizens are allowed to contest for any position of their choice if they are qualified.

Furthermore, free, fair and credible election also vindicates that the election process is trusted accepted, successful and believed to be of international standard. Anything short of these is not acceptable. If elections are free, fair and credible, corruption and stealing will decline as credible persons would have been elected more democratic dividends to people is ensured and socioeconomic development can be guaranteed.

For the forthcoming 2011 election in Nigeria; the following questions are very important:
1. Can a free, fair and credible election be achieved in a situation where political party leaders deny some members party cards in order to create an easy contest for some members of their choice?;
2. Can a free, fair and credible election be achieved in a situation where Governors and some few leaders of a political party in their various states decide who gets the party ticket for any election?;
3. Can a free, fair and credible election be achieved in a situation where importation of arms and war weapons by unauthorized people still persist?;
4. Can it be achieved if INEC officers collaborate with politicians to influence registration of voters, elections and election results?;
5. Can it be achieved in a sitution where security agents are easily bought over by politicians to work in their favour?;
6. Can it be achieved in a country where an inglorious past has resulted in apathy?; and
7. Can it be achieved if politicians see elections as a do-or die or win by all means?

The answers to these questions is NO.
To achieve a free, fair and credible election in Nigeria, the government and people of Nigeria must:
1. Cultivate an enduring democratic culture;
2. Educate voters and fund youth socialization programmes;
3. Imbibe the "One-man-one-vote" principle;
4. Prosecute electoral offenders (Politicians, INEC officials and security agents);
5. Prosecute and punish those involved in illegal importation of arms;
6. Ensure that the re-branding programme covers education of politicians;
7. Ensure that civil society continue to address and campaign for free, fair and credible elections; and
8. Use electronic voting process in the future elections in Nigeria.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Godfatherism and Democracy

It may take social scientists a while to convince many people that godfatherism and democracy complement each other. Although definitions are variable and subjective intellectual materials, with or without them, godfatherism has meaningful interpretations, which are synonymous with its name. Besides, in this context, ‘god’ and ‘father’ could be interpreted to mean godly in nature and fatherly in principle.

Philosophically, democracy has been defined beyond being the ‘government of the people by the people for the people,’ no doubt. It remains the best and globally accepted system of government. Similarly, scientific studies have segmented godfatherism into two categories: negative and positive godfatherism. 

From available records, the symbiotic relationship between democracy and godfatherism started eons ago. Democracy, politics and godfatherism are the three major and harmonious elements of governance. So, in a true democratically oriented political environment, the trio work hand in glove.
In my view, the function of democracy is to put the mechanism of governance in the right perspective. Practically, politics is the vocational tool for governance. Godfatherism is the normative shopping for credible candidates by censoring their behavioral values before elections into public offices.
Although these three elements have their negative and positive tendencies, political godfathers should pave the way for them to function in harmony to enable positive political godfatherism to thrive.

Considering the adverse effect of negative godfatherism (as it affects the polity of many nations), particularly its hegemonic characteristics, one may not be able to immediately point out the import and censorious role of positive political godfatherism. But that notwithstanding, our polity had a taste of positive godfatherism in the first and second republics. During those eras, political godfathers from the three main regions of this country censored and fielded their godsons for the purposes of economic security and social development of their regions.

In retrospect, this segment of the piece places emphasis on the likes of political godfathers who presented for elections political role models like Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Bola Ige (all late), Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi and Alhaji Balarabe Musa. Those political godfathers expected neither to drink a pint of water nor to reap material rewards from the governments that they installed. Rather, their common objective was to present the best candidates who understood and believed in their party’s ideology and who were also capable of executing programmes that would improve the people’s welfare and provide caring leadership. 

Obviously, the desire of both negative and positive godfathers is to have a stranglehold on supreme leadership. Based on semantic analysis, to govern and to dictate/deliver almost the same message. Without mincing words, democracy also has an atom of dictatorship. So, every politician is a clever dictator under the shelter of democracy. But civilized politicians who apply high ethical and moral standards to their political practice become real democrats. 

Godfatherism is an unpronounced global political culture and a complement to democracy. Even in the United States where the polity is strictly pivoted on democracy, scientific findings have identified Americans’ political life-style as being propelled by godfatherism of variable stuff. 

Because of the ubiquitous practice and global acceptance of godfatherism, moreover, as a prerequisite for attaining public office, it becomes pertinent for prospective and serving public officers to recognize political godfatherism before and after crossing political bridges. Consequently, the sycophantic nature of godfatherism made many intellectuals and men of lofty ideas encounter difficulties (mostly in African countries) in penetrating the political arena. 

Owing to political ossification, some eggheads are groaning beneath negative godfatherism. Political godfathers are not necessarily the big names in town. In some unusual cases, a person or group of persons who may not be rich, but who are part of the opinion leadership in a constituency may play the role of godfather(s). Because of all these reasons, aspiring, and serving public officers have submitted to godfatherism in totality. In the same manner, contractors, traders and technicians cannot rule out the sponsorship or assistance of godfathers during business consolidations.

Similarly, the best jobs in town can never be secured without the element of godfatherism. Even if you process employment through the Internet, your referees (godfathers) must be acceptable to your employers.

More importantly, after getting the job, you will need to take a job-security-shelter under the umbrella of a senior boss (godfather) who can protect you during employment hurricanes. Socially, no reputable club will absorb a new member without referees. These referees, (guarantors, sponsors) also must censor their candidates so as to be sure of the persons they are introducing. For instance, in the Catholic Church where I belong, to ensure a solid foundation and guarantee, the sacraments of baptism or matrimony cannot be given without the backing of baptismal godparents or marriage sponsors.

Although the variable roles of godfatherism may appear in different forms or names (depending on where and how applicable), there is hardly any aspect of the life of man that godfatherism has not influenced either positively or negatively. Generically, guarantor, referee, surety sponsor and godfather are related. They as well depict security, and if sincerely applied, that is exactly what godfatherism does for democracy.

This article was published by Tunde Temionu on
29 th January, 2008 and I decided to adapt it in to my blog because it one of the major political problems militating against my country Nigeria.

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Challenges Of Godfatherism In Nigerian Politics.

Concept Of God-Fatherism
God-Fatherism is one word that opens narrow doors when it comes to deciding who gets what in the political scene. They make or mar potential candidates all over the country. In fact, the concept of godfatherism is firmly establishing itself as a guiding principle in contemporary Nigerian politics. Recently, the women also decided that it was time for the godmothers to play their roles. The term godfather according to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (6th Edition) means a male godparent, a very powerful man in a criminal organization, especially a mafia or a person who began or developed something.

The concept of godfatherism has its origin in Christianity, however, the term became popular following the film “THE GODFATHER” directed by Francis COPPOLA. The film debased the original meaning of the term but the Nigerian political scene has taken the term deeper into firth, obscene, mud and loam. It is a term now reserved for God forsaken criminals who will go to any length to achieve their set goals of wielding political power including arson, intimidation, warning flogging and assassination.
  Literally, Godfathers are seen in Nigeria to be men who have the power personally to determine both who gets nominated to contest elections and who wins in a state. This phenomenon is firmly establishing itself as a guiding principle in contemporary Nigerian politics.

The political godfather phenomenon is not new in Nigeria. It started during the First Republic when the forefathers of the nation (Zik, Awo, Tafawa-Balewa, etc) influenced and controlled political activities in Nigeria. However, there are lots of differences between the ideological godfatherism of the First Republic and the crude form that is currently in place in Nigeria. The series of Political imbroglio experienced in some states of the country has exposed the negative impacts of crude political godfatherism in Nigerian politics. Like other forms of political corruption, it is a big threat to Nigeria’s democracy-experiment, because it prevents the people from participating unfettered in the political process. This problem is one of the biggest challenges that should be resolved for sustainability of democracy in Nigeria.

Why Do Godfathers Act Through Surrogates?
The fundamental problem is that the godfather is either not directly saleable/popular to voters, or wants to protect himself from liability should he later demand that the godson engages in illegal activities. The godfather would therefore prefer that someone else's name be soiled. In some states, godfathers bind their godsons by getting them to sign undated resignation letters and filming them making resignation announcements. If the godsons fail to deliver to their godfathers after being elected, the godfathers are able to simply issue the resignation letter and videotape to remove them from office. In some cases, godsons carry the briefcases and become errand boys before their godfathers anoint them for political office. 

Why Should Somebody Agree To Be A Godson?
The reason may not be far fetched, as the so call godsons by all accounts are often people with almost unlimited greed and cupidity. It is an act that suggests mistrust and danger to our nascent democracy. The godsons believe that you cannot rely on the people to win democratic elections. 

Godfatherism In Political Science Literature
It is useful to recollect that godfatherism was first featured in political science literature in relation to the US city of Chicago in the pre-World War II era. This is the period when kingpins of the criminal underworld played a major political role in the United States. The heads of criminal gangs sponsored politicians in elections, manipulated the results to get them elected, and in return received protection and contracts from their political godsons. This process is consecrated in American political science literature under the euphemism of 'party machine' politics. 

Factors  Enhancing  Godfatherism
Godfatherism survives in Nigeria due to long term of military rule and its various disorderliness. Some of these factors are examined as follows:
(i) Illiteracy
This one of the major factor that is encouraging god-fatherism in Nigeria, as a very high percentage of the citizens in are stark illiterate that can neither read nor write; thereby capitalizing on their ignorance;
(ii) Poverty
Another canker worm that is ravaging the country is poverty, thereby exposing the citizens to various kind of danger such as recruiting them as political thugs and foot soldiers by godfathers. This has led so many Nigerian youths to mortgaging their future for peanuts while the children of these so call godfathers are busy studying in state-of the–art institutions abroad;
(ii) Desperate seek for power
The zeal of getting to position of authority by all means is another factor that is making this phenomenon more popular. This makes our potential leaders to go into any agreement with their godfathers, so as to clinch to power against the wish of the electorates;
(iii) Corruption
Corruption now appears to have become a permanent feature of the Nigerian polity. The Godfathers today are thriving on ill-gotten wealth acquired under questionable circumstances. Majority of them are fraudsters, drug barons, government contractors, and the likes. Due to high-level corruption in the country, the godfathers can bribe their way to any level. Is it the Police or the electoral officials they cannot influence? In fact, they have all what it takes in their possession to have their way and say; and
           (iv) Unemployment
           The rate of unemployment of Nigerian graduates has also boost godfatherism as 
           brains that suppose to be used for the development of the nation are being 
           employed by politicians most of who are godfather to one  political office holder 
           or the other. They exchange their future and that of their unborn children for mere            amala, tuwo and akpu offered by these godfathers.

The Nigerian Experience
This phenomenon is not totally new to Nigerian politics as some of Nationalist and freedom fighters such as Nnamdi AZIKWE (Dr.), Obafemi AWOLOWO, Ahmadu BELLO, etc, are somehow related as typifying the modern-day operations of the political godfather. The Fourth Republic in Nigeria has witnessed these ugly trends from inception soon after the Governors were swear-in in 1999. The political actors and their estranged political godfather were in the verge of contending “who is who” in their state. Prominent among the warlords in the states are Modu Ali SHERIFF (Senator) vs Governor Mala KACHALLA of Borno; Olusola SARAKI (Dr.) vs late Mohammed LAWAL governor of Kwara State; Jim NWOBODO (Senator) vs Governor Chimaroke NNAMANI (Enugu State); Emeka Offor (Chief) vs Governor Chinwoke MBADINUJU (Anambra State); Abubakar RIMI (Alhaji) vs Governor Rabiu KWANKWASO of Kano State and Lamidi ADEDIBU vs Governor Rasheed LADOJA of Oyo State. These are various political godfatherism syndromes in most states in Nigeria where the states have been turned to theatres of “wars”; prominent of which are emphasized below:
         (i) The Anambra State Crisis
Anambra is another state popularly known for godfather politics. Between 1999 and 2003, the fight was between Emeka OFFOR (Godfather) and the Governor of the state Chinwoke MBADINUJU (godson), who refused to dance to the tune of the godfather. This led to MBADINUJU to dump the PDP for Alliance for Democracy (AD) and his subsequent lost of election in 2003. The dust raised by these two (2) political bigwigs was yet to settle when two (2) other actors emerged; Chris UBA and Chris NGIGE. UBA was the godfather responsible for the “installation” of NGIGE. NGIGE went as far as pledging his loyalty to UBA at Okija Shrine, where he agreed to some propositions. Based on the pledge, UBA bankrolled the gubernatorial election to the tune of three billion naira (N3B). After the election, NGIGE refused to pay back his godfather the necessary commission and patronage. And what was supposed to be a cold war became public with the abduction of NGIGE and his purported resignation. Since then, peace has eluded the state until NGIGE was defeated at the election petition tribunal for rigging the gubernatorial polls by the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate.  
(ii) The Kwara State Saga
           Between 1999 and 2003, the battle line in Kwara politics was well defined. Olusola  
           SARAKI (Dr.), former Senate leader and political kingpin, was in contest for 
          relevance with his former protégé, Mohamed   LAWAL, a retired Navy 
          Commodore, who was the Governor of the state then. SARAKI, who has installed 
          not less than four (4) Governors in the state, including LAWAL himself, fell out with 
          LAWAL on the  sharing of political benefits and commissions. But LAWAL did not 
          compromise and these led to a cold war which culminated into the expulsion of 
         SARAKI from the then All People’s Party (APP) now All Nigerian People’s Party 
         (ANPP) and SARAKI teamed up with People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. 
Then, the 2003 elections to both men was the ultimate battle to determine the political grandmaster of the state. They deployed their vast resources to prosecute the “war”. During this “war” bomb blast shattered the peace of Ilorin, this happened at the premises of National Pilot owned by the SARAKI’S. Lots of people were assassinated, maimed, injured, etc, during the imbroglio. Notable among those assassinated was the then Chairman of PDP in the state, Ahmed PATIGI, who was brutally murdered in August 2002.
Supporters of the two (2) camps openly confronted each other with dangerous weapons with the police turning into spectators. But this was put to an end when the junior SARAKI won the Governorship election in the state in 2003 and the rest becomes history.
(iii) The Oyo State Showdown
The battle line in Oyo state was drawn between Lamidi ADEDIBU-the kingpin of Ibadan politics and his estranged godson and governor of the state, Rashidi LADOJA.
ADEDIBU claimed to have invested financially in “installing” the governor, with an agreement that the governor will be a lame chief executive, taking orders from him and to subject public resources, to his private whims and caprices. However, LADOJA reneged and refused to play according to the rules of the game. This culminated into the mayhem witnessed in Ibadan after 2003 elections till January 2006. Many lives and properties were lost, the State House of Assembly was also polarized along the two (2) divides and led to the suspension of fourteen (14) members out of thirty-two (32) – member Assembly. Subsequently, LADOJA was impeached in January 2006 to pave way for his deputy, Alao AKALA, another willing godson, who is eager to serve the godfather better. The Status quo was maintained till December 7th 2006 final ruling of the apex court (Supreme Court) that his removal was illegal and was reinstated after eleven (11) months out of Office. His coming back to the office was faced with serious resistance from his former godfather’s (ADEDIBU) camp, which led to break in law and order of the state capital for few days and living many innocent citizens with various kind of injuries.

Godfatherism And Its Security Implications
The inherent danger or harm of political godfatherism in a fledgling democracy, such as that of Nigeria cannot be over-emphasised. This “bug” often time has led to the invasion of military into the politics of Nigeria, as witnessed in the South-
western crisis in the first republic between 1960 & 1966 and second republic national political crisis of 1983.
Some of the various identified perils are discussed below:
(i) Wilful destruction of Lives and properties
In the battle of supremacy between the godfathers and their protégés, both private and government properties worth billions of Naira have been destroyed. Also lives of innocent citizens are either lost through assassination or as a result of violence precipitated by godfather politics.
(ii) Hooliganism and Thuggery
         Political actors in the business of god-fatherism seriously focus all their resources on  
         how to build a formidable group of youths that can be used as thugs, hooligans and 
         other delinquencies that thrives on periodic dole of the godfather.
(iii) The proliferation of arms and ammunitions.
The proliferation of illicit weapons has become one of the most urgent security and developmental challenges facing Nigeria and whole African continent. This problem is on the increase in Nigeria because these arms and ammunitions are being freely used by political thugs in battles of supremacy between the godfathers and their godsons in most cases.
(iv) Increase in crime rate
         Godfather politics encourages youth delinquencies: such as cultism, armed robbery, 
         drug abuse, etc. This is due to the fact that political players involved in 
        godfatherism usually recruit youths that have these tendencies as foot soldiers and 
        arm them by giving necessary logistics.
(v) State of Anarchy
        The chaotic situation generated by godfather politics, always leads to lack of 
        control, disturbance of law and order. And ultimately, allowing some unscrupulous 
        elements to exploit the situation by unleashing terror on the citizens. This was 
       witnessed in Anambra state, where the Governor NGIGE was abducted and his 
       purported resignation left the state in total lawlessness.

      Apart from security threats, Godfatherism is an evil building block for corruption, 
      retrogression, under development, mediocrity, backwardness and perpetual 
     poverty of the people.
The Way Forward
There is need for all stakeholders in Nigerian political scene to rise to the responsibility of taming corruption and the power of political godfathers. To avoid crude political godfatherism as obtainable in Nigeria today from subverting Nigeria’s democracy:
(i) All tiers of government must prosecute any person found plotting to destabilize any part of the country in any manner;
(ii) Government at every level should also curtail the influence of money in politics by controlling individual contributions to political campaigns;
(iii) On the part of the governed there must be radical change of attitudes especially the urbanized segment and in the mindset of the power elite and the political office seeking buccaneers;
(iv) An intelligent and imaginative approach must be adopted to eradicate abject poverty and helplessness of the populace especially its rural components;
(v) The rate of unemployment of most educated Nigerian youths must be reduced to the lowest level; and
(vi) Political awareness campaigns should be embarked upon by National Orientation Agency (NOA), civil societies, mass media etc; on the harmful effects of using Nigerian youths by some unscrupulous politicians to achieve their selfish goals.

In a nutshell Godfatherism in Nigerian politics means that a politician may have sold his or her independence to a financier or party power-broker in order to win an election; thereby mortgaging the future of his or her electorates. It very necessary for all Nigerians to stand and say no to all political godfathers in the nation so as to completely eradicate poverty, unemployment, injustice, corruption, under development and insecurity to live and property. 

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Can Nigeria ever become a great nation?

I was shivering reading the following quote from one of the national dailies on how Nigerians who served their father land are treated after living office.

"Do not serve with zeal. Do not give off your best to the nation. No one will give you applause for your selflessness. Try to serve yourself and family as much as possible. We take noble efforts for granted. It is not in our character to remember the good any one has done. It is rather in our character to seek to prove that you are no better than anyone else. That all the noise about you is mere hype. That you are a bloody hypocrite and an overrated performer."

It is a pity as every other nations of the world are busy saying, preaching and teaching to their young ones on how they should put in their best for their country reverse is the case of Nigeria. In a nation where patriotic citizens are seen as negative people while corrupt, dubious and vision less ones are being celebrated as champions. Anybody that have interest of this nation at heart to even sacrifice his or herself are regarded as failure. If you are holding public office in Nigeria is better you don't perform because if you do you must be stepping on some "toes" . These toes so to say are the league of those that have one way or the other killed the Nigerian system, which was one of the best in the world in the late 60's and early 70's. Look around your neighbourhood they are there, proving to be elder state men; analyze them vividly and see if truly are or otherwise.

The big questions is, what is their role in the nations development? Are they seeing themselves as saints or ready to contribute or even bragging that their time is better than now; but they should remember that their role(s) in the nearest past has a significant impact on the nation today.

Most of the major player in this generation that ruined the fortune of the country strive to become somebody by hardwork and dedication that was not truncated by their older generation. The truth is that they are trying to truncate any talent that want to emerge for the greatness of the country and if possible replace them with their own children(selfish generation). Looking inwardly, one will see that most of their children cannot even reach half of their parent achievement because they are spoon fed by their parent thereby destroying their ability to even achieve greater height to the nation and even to elevate the status of their family. Their father's loots is enough for at least two or three generations. Nigerian will avenge, God will judge you and hell is becoming hotter everyday awaiting all of you, except if you repent and start amending you ways.

A contemporary Nigerian youth is becoming vision less everyday, they are not ready to work but desire the best thing in life(big cars, exotic jeeps and big houses in selected location of the urban cities). They are not ready to put their talents at play towards greatness of Nigeria; instead they are expert in praise singing to those nonentities that ruined the fortunes of the country and using tribalism and religious differences as their tools. Their generation is a disaster for this country and instead of them trying to redeeming the nation out of their past anomaly they are busy destroying new breed of patriotic Nigerians.

The same God of the masses that saved Nigerians from the hands of the immediate past power that be in Abuja by blocking one and blind folding the other and Install the President of the masses Yar' adua will stand and fight all the enemies of this country Nigeria even you, will not be speared. The sweat of the living and the blood of the dead patriotic Nigerians are really crying for vengeance.

God is in the plan of Nigeria and the answer to the question I used as title is YES, Nigeria will be very great in a very short time but evaluate your contribution before, presently and in the time to come are they sincere? If not change you ways before nemesis catch up with you!

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