Time Out For Godfatherism | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Time Out For Godfatherism

Posted: Jun 18, 2015 at 12:34 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

A recent news report indicated that the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom, refused to assist his benefactor and former Governor Godswill Akpabio, now elected Senator, build a new house of cards. Udom had refused to appoint Akpabio’s elder brother, Sir Emem Akpabio, as Secretary to the State Government. This has once again brought into focus the disturbing issue of godfatherism in Nigerian politics. 

Indeed it would be difficult to totally avoid godfatherism or endorsements in Nigeria, because even jobs in the private sector, usually go to the one who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody in the organisation’s high places. It gets even more compounded because, Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution insists that candidates for elective offices must be presented by political parties.

And as everyone knows, it is always the political party grandees, usually money bags or former holders of high political offices, that get to endorse, suggest or impose candidates that are usually ‘elected’ or ‘selected’ by delegates who come out in the open to perform the usual charade of party primaries.

As much as this method does not always throw up the best candidates for political offices, it happens to be the way it is done even in the so-called mature democracies. After former American President, Jimmy Carter and late Senator Ted Kennedy endorsed the presidential aspirations of Barack Obama, his victory over former First Lady Hilary Clinton, at the Democratic Party primaries, was a matter of time.

The problem of political godfatherism or endorsements may not necessarily be in the act of endorsement per se. It is that the benefactors then want to impose their minions into strategic political positions in the government of their beneficiaries, often without regard to the competence of the nominees.

This usually becomes a sore point, and leads to a parting of ways between the benefactor and beneficiary, who is usually a State Governor. It is necessary to emphasize that when an individual gets elected into a political office, he should only be subject to party discipline and not the whims and caprices of egoistical party grandees or stalwarts.

The best way out of this bind is that party delegates must not always come out of the ranks of those who survive on crumbs from the table of political party grandees. More importantly, the principle of internal democracy must be upheld within the political parties. Thus candidates that are promoted by any of the interests within political parties must go through due process.

The electorates too have a duty to themselves by paying close attention to the process by which candidates emerge from political parties, and then refuse to vote the incompetent ones that have been imposed to serve the parochial interests of political godfathers. There must be a level playing field so that only the best will always emerge.

Political godfathers who want to be relevant in the polity must screen, and present, nominees who can be trusted to make astute political judgment in picking their team and making good policy decisions. A stooge who must always kowtow to the whims of a godfather, who may not always be well meaning, should not ever be elected into a position of trust in the first place.