BY; Babalola Opeyemi
Godfatherism is not only a political term if we look at the different institutions in our modern-day society, but we would also see that it’s part and parcel of our everyday activities. To major different ethnic groups we have in Nigeria, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, all have the names they give to this term. In Hausa for instance, it’s called ‘Maigida’, In Yoruba, it’s called ‘Baba isale’ and in Igbo, it’s called ‘chi nna’.
The meaning people ascribed to godfather differs according to how one places it, in Nigeria, political godfatherism does not just start within a blink of an eye, it’s been in existence as far back from the 1950s. Those who held the primary school qualifications confronted the British government in fighting for independence. After gaining independence in 1960, many Nigerians who were interested in politics ran to them for consultation and they automatically became their mentors in politics.
Even the statesmen fell into this category of a godfather. The godsons of Sir Ahmadu Bello in the northern part formed the ‘The Kaduna Mafia’, the godsons of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the South formed ‘The Afenifere’ while the godsons of Nnamdi Azikwe later formed different political parties that originated from the eastern part.
These 90s godfathers didn’t choose money as their utmost concern during the course of mentoring but aim at making a vivid achievement in the lives of their godsons compared to what we have at the moment. They didn’t demand anything in return as against what is happening now. They were true in their motivations and didn’t ask for anything in return.
Most godfather-godson conflicts surface after an election or kept after another election is coming up. A case study is that of Governor Mala Kachallah of Borno state and Senator Ali Modu Sherriff popularly called SAS. The latter was the godfather while the former was the godson, SAS did everything in his power to win the 1999 Gubernatorial seat for Kachalla in Borno state. SAS was an elder statesman, philanthropist, and political tycoon of the ANPP (formerly APP) both at local and national levels. His contribution was second to none. When it was time for Kachalla to appoint his cabinet members, an all ready list has already been compiled by SAS which was sent to Kachalla but he rejected it and decided to follow his own way.
This led to a serious breakdown in their relationship as both turned eyes and pepper. SAS went in alliance with the Borno state House of Assembly to get Kachalla impeached and also to block him from getting a second term ticket in 2003. The fight between the two giants led to each supporters forming an -ECOMOG which later turned Borno state to a destabilizing one during that era. Come 2003 when Kachalla couldn’t secure the party’s ticket, he defected to Alternative for Democracy (AD) where he lost the governorship seat to SAS.
The latest godfather-godson conflict that is happening now in Edo is not something new to the ear. The two ‘client and customer’ have been running the affairs of the state for a very long time. In 2009, he was the Chairman of the Edo State Economic and Strategy Team inaugurated by Adams Oshiomole. During his serving under Oshiomole’s administration, he has elevated the state status to the best of his capability. In 2016, he emerged as the Governor of the state with the helping hands of Adams Oshiomole. In October 2019, he publicly declared that he will be running for a second term.
The power tussle between him and his godfather still remains clandestine. The same party that welcomed him in 2016 denied him a ticket for running for the second term. There’s no tangible reason(s) that we could point out other than speculations. Hearsays and unverified grapevine now caught people’s attention. They accused Obaseki of not possessing a higher-level certificate of which they didn’t ask during his first term.
This shows how godfather deals with his unworthy and adamant godson. Obaseki became the Governor of Edo state through godfather and now he’s seen as an antagonist to his godfather. Oshiomole told us that he passed out from UI with ‘Flying colours’. Today, that ‘flying colour’ has been ridiculed to nothing.