On Desmond Elliot and Obaseki; here’s why young people should consider shunning godfatherism in politics

“He who pays the Piper dictates the tune.”

This popular mantra clearly captures the concept of godfatherism in Nigerian politics. Godfatherism is a style of political leadership that is harmful to the political and socio-economic growth of our nation. Unfortunately, it has eaten deep into the fabric of our polity. Thus, as a catalyst of change, the Nigerian youth may want to consider ditching the harmful concept of godfatherism in the quest for good governance.

Godfatherism is the buzz word on Twitter Saturday as prominent actor cum politician, Desmond Elliot, in a recent interview,came out declared that he is a product of godfatherism while berating Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki who adopted the slogan ‘Edo is not Lagos,’ for his second term bid; in apparent reference to the influence of former Lagos Governor and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu in deciding ‘who is who’ in Lagos politics.

Elliot in his criticism of Obaseki, who doubles as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the September 19 gubernatorial election, insinuated that Obaseki’s attack on godfatherism in Lagos is hypocritical because he (Governor Obaseki) is a product of godfatherism which launched him into the political scene.

“A godfather always tries to look after the interest of his people. I’m a product of godfatherism but Tinubu has never for one day asked me to do something you know would be detrimental,” he said.

“It’s progressive. So, let him (Obaseki) not castigate the whole thing. If not for godfatherism, would he be where he is today? My point isn’t even about him; it’s that I want to talk about my candidate.”

Nigerians have weighed in on the issue and here’s how they are reacting:

The Nollywood star who represents Surulere Constituency at the Lagos State House of Assembly since 2015, revealed how he started his political career after meeting with Governor Obaseki’s predecessor and erstwhile political godfather, Adams Oshiomole, who introduced him to Bola Tinubu. The former Lagos Governor he said, sent him to the Youth and Sports Minister, Sunday Dare. Elliot said all three contributed to setting the pace for his political career. “If not for that singular official introduction, it would have been more difficult move for me,” he added.

There is no doubt that some people agree with the filmmaker’s position on the importance of rising through a political godfather in order to achieve a political ambition but what are the merits of such argument.

On the surface, it looks harmless, however, in taking a closer look at the effects of political godfatherism as it relates to the political and socio-economic development of Nigeria, one will realise that it does more harm than good to the nation.

You only have to look at the attendant problems that comes with godfatherism to take a stand on the issue. Amongst many other reasons, godfatherism does not serve the interest of the electorate; rather, it focuses on the interests of the godfather and maybe, the godson.

According to one study, “the problems arising from godfatherism are myriad and it is one of the greatest glitches facing the Nigerian political system. The problem is such that the god-son oftentimes is a stooge of the godfather and he that pays the piper dictates the tune. The failure of the god-son to meet the demands of the god-father is often punished with impeachments or denial of re-election.” This is no doubt, a great disservice to the electorate as their needs are relegated to the background while selfish interests are upheld.

In Nigerian politics, godfatherism remains a major problem that stands in the way of voting into power, credible candidates on the basis of merit; rather than in favour of the godsons. Nepotism is also the order of the day when such governments are established and this impacts negatively on the polity and socio-economic growth of the nation.

Our institutions need to be strengthened to make the desired change achievable; when credible candidates with the capacity to effect positive change are allowed to run for political offices on a level-playing ground; devoid of godfatherism.

In line with this, the Nigerian youth as a catalyst of change in our society might want to consider shunning the harmful concept of godfatherism in the pursuit of their political ambition in order to achieve meaningful development in our nation.

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