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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