Nigeria's Political Capo Di Tutti Capi

Political godfathers in Nigeria are the quintessential exemplification of the notion of Mafia godfathers as popularised by the Mario Puzo fictional creation 'The Godfather', based on real life Sicillian mafia life style of Italian crime families and the daily activities of the family head known as the Capo di Tutti Capi - Boss of all Bosses.

The late German Jurist Friedrich Carl von Savigny  who was one of the greatest, most respected and influential 19th-century jurists, sought to prove and actually succeded in his great works the Recht des Besitzes and the Beruf unserer Zeit für Gesetzgebung; that the laws of a people reflect their spiritual consciousness.  Applying Savigny's principle to Nigeria's political environment would reveal that country Nigeria is lives in a socio political scenario, that creates a set of laws, political and economic systems that are irrelevant and strange to average Nigerians. The Nigerian masses have been left behind. The political elites are too far away from the masses. It has become their world against our world. To put it aptly, the regular system is dysfunctional. The regular system is not working. Meanwhile, the masses must survive, therefore, godfathers offering alternatives to the regular system must emerge. They have emerged and they are thriving.

A scenario such as the one described above leaves a great space for those with great common sense, those blessed with unusual guts and a great depth of native intelligence to emerge as special alternative governments and leaders unto the people. This is a matter of political economics. The masses need leadership. The regular governments have been found lacking and wanting. They are even too far off. In other words, there is a short supply of leadership. Thus the demand for alternative leadership has become high. Naturally, folks among the masses, who can supply the socio-economic and political products and services, the desire, for which, the masses crave leadership and good government, will automatically emerge as godfathers.

According to criminologists, the society prepares the crime, the criminal merely commits it. The Nigerian socio-political environment prepares a good ground for godfathers to emerge. Godfathers fill a void, because nature will not allow a vacuum. Political godfathers are also economic and social godfathers to the masses. These political godfathers understand the Nigeria masses, better than the government. Godfathers work very hard to win the trust of the masses. They promise and they deliver. Their followers trust them more than the government. Their followers believe them, whereas same followers see the regular government as completely lacking in integrity.

Any surprise, that godfathers have become alternative governments, that are thriving, while the regular governments at the federal, state and local levels are all failing. Political godfathers and members of their political families are prospering, while those who hold faith in the regular governments are left in the wilderness of confusion, despondence and social stagnation.

Understanding and unravelling the phenomenon called political godfathers and political Families, will require a multi-prong approach. A pertinent question that must be addressed to lead us to the power base of political godfathers is, why are the governments and their agencies at the federal, state and local levels not delivering the dividends of democracy to the people. The people are not going to wait for ever. They have an alternative, that alternative is the government provided by the local or state strong man. That is the godfather. Now lets get down to the nitty gritty. If a man cannot get justice from the regular justice administration apparatus. He will seek an alternative provider of justice. That is human nature. How that alternative justice is provided is within the domain of your guess; and boy your guess is as good as mine. Same applies in the arena of social justice. The regular governments have all failed woefully to create an enabling environment, whereby the masses can thrive and prosper. The political godfather is able to provide some measure of individual long term and short term relief . How dare you attempt to tell the beneficiaries of the benevolence of the political godfather, who tripples up as economic and social godfather, that they must not sacrifice their lives for the godfather; when it is time to knock some sense, by way of impeachment into the head of some erring governor who is encumbering the release of a fraction of the security vote necessary for the survival of the political family. Has the governor, forgotten that he was rigged into the Government House by the political family, ably led by the godfather.

Whenever there is a show down between a godfather and a God Son Governor, what the press and the on-lookers usually fail to appreciate, is that the crisis is actually, a fight between members of the same family. The army of the godfather are fully aware, that they could lose their lives in the ensuing melee, yet they risk being called thugs and take to the streets. Reason? These folks are aware, that they are fighting for their daily bread. The godfather and the political family are  the governments they know, and the governments they have learnt to trust.

Usually godfathers feed thousands of Nigerian citizens daily. Why can't the government create outfits to offer these guys regular jobs. Has any one ever considered how much it costs to provide  three free meals in 365 days. Now you understand, why there is always a fight over security vote; that even state Governors do not usually account for. Why are the federal, state and local governments not doing anything regarding the provision of accommodation for the millions of Nigerian homeless. Do we know how many Nigerians would have no place to rest their tired bodies and bones at the end of each day, minus the benevolence of godfathers. Come to think of it, whereas no government in Nigeria has a Public Defenders office, godfathers always assume responsibility for the legal defense of members of their political families.

Long after elections, when those elected into political offices are now busy looting and siphoning the wealth of the people to foreign shores, political godfathers usually hang in there, attending the marriage ceremonies of bricklayers and carpenters who belong to their political families. Godfathers pay school fees for sons and daughters of  indigent members of their political families. Now you know why godfathers are trusted why the regular governments are treated with disdain by the masses. When Adedibu Ariyibi Lamidi died, all the deformed beggars in Ibadan organized themselves and went to his Molete Ibadan residence to offer prayers for the late political godfather. They were not unduly influenced. They were not cajoled. They were not forced. Adedibu was not around to arm twist them into offering prayers for his soul. They organized themselves and voluntary went to Adedibu's residence to offer prayers for Adedibu's soul. Now think about that.

Many people have reservations about the approach of political godfathers to the conduct of elections. The truth is, when the government is really determined to conduct free and fair elections, the godfathers stay out of the way of trouble and play by the rules. If you doubt my position on this, ask Babangida Badamosi Ibrahim and Nwosu Humphrey. Yet the government of the day annulled that free and fair elections of 1992. Any wonder that godfathers understand the game to mean- Every one rigs, who rigs better wins. Thus the solution, is for us to have good government with the determination to do that, which is right.

Blaming political godfathers for Nigeria 's woes, is like attacking the symptoms, while the root cause of the problem is ignored. Bad ant i- people government is the bane of Nigeria 's under-development. Taking over power at all cost, seems to be a cultural thing in Africa . The military boys used to force their way into power. Now, militant civilians force their way into power, by rigging of elections. This brings us back to the great German Jurist Von Savigny. Our society tolerates rigging, thus it is a cultural thing. Our society tolerates worship and crowning of the strong man. Thus godfatherism is a cultural thing.

Political godfathers and Political Families with all the attendant negatives, will witness a demise, if the government decides to be a government of the people for the people.

Anthony Okosun -  tonyosun @

Please register before you can make new comment