Godfatherism In Nigerian Politics and Democratic Consolidation in The Fourth Republic 1999-2018


Baitei, F., Oyewusi, O. O., Jesuton, G. E.


In contemporary democracy, politics of Godfatherism has become a major issue in many countries including Nigeria. In Nigeria, the activities of godfathers have been on the increase and it is a very sad irony that a country like Nigeria having generated huge revenue from petroleum since the 1970’s have the most miserable infrastructures, medical services and educational system. The negative effects of godfatherism in a fragile democracy in our clime especially when peaceful coexistence is threatened cannot be over emphasised. Godfatherism is a potent avenue for corruption, bad governance, political instability, retrogression, mediocrity, perpetual poverty of the people and above all a threat to peaceful co-existence. This unholy alliance of godfatherism has also led to inter-party and intra-party defections, and conflicts among the party members. Against this backdrop, the paper unveils the problematic dimensions of the phenomenon of godfatherism which rears its ugly head in Nigeria, especially in the current republic as it affects peaceful co-existence. The paper reveals that, godfatherism is a major factor to contend with if not handled constitutionally as the activities of these godfathers permeates in Nigeria’s body politics. Primary and secondary sources were used in the collection, collation and interpretation of data.


Godfatherism, Godson, Power, Peace, Unholy Alliance, Democracy


The word 'Godfather' appears in parenthesis in many western political studies. The situation is different in Nigeria. Politics of godfatherism has featured prominently in the political history of independent 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. Godfathers are generally defined as men who have the power and financial capacity and are influential to decide and determine who gets nominated to contest elections in either primary or general elections and who wins in the elections. Godfatherism is a kind of political behaviour whereby an influential person in a popular or ruling party assists someone usually a lackey, i.e. godson to emerge as the governorship candidate of a party at all cost either by hook or crook.


The term “Godfatherism” is deeply rooted in the sociology of the traditional Nigerian pre-colonial societies. The patron/client relationships that characterized the term in modern Nigerian politics have cultural roots among many Nigerians peoples. It is not a totally a new phenomenon among Nigerian politicians to have one or other type of 'godfather'. An apt example could be derived from the pre-colonial major ethnic groups in Nigeria. The term 'godfather' has a local equivalence among the Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo and these words have been in usage since the pre-colonial era.


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