GODFATHERISM AND CREDIBLE ELECTORAL PROCESS IN IMO STATE
The history of political godfatherism is traceable to the colonial epoch through independence era, military interregnum and towards the restoration of democracy in Nigeria in what came to be known as the fourth Republic in 1999 following the terminus of military junta. The staggering posture of godfatherism in Nigerian democratic experiment leaves much to be desired. This stems from the fact that since the adumbration of this nascent democracy on the 29th May, 1999,
Nigerians have witnessed uncontrollable political insecurity, which has threatened participatory democracy, peace, political security and the consolidation of democracy as a result of the activities of political godfathers (Ajadike 2010).
Essentially, the politics of godfatherism in Nigeria has became more visible and widespread like harmatan fire as events unfolded itself in the recent elections conducted variously in 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011 in Nigeria. With the expansion of the activities of godfathers and its eldorado in the 21st century Nigeria, coupled with the godson clientelism, there was greater commitment and manifestations of discontentment in the developing democracy of Nigeria in the areas of political security and participation. It should also be mentioned that the fourth Republic Political godfathers are essentially predatory in their motivation to influence electoral politics and subsequent elections in Nigeria (Gambo, 2007)
Unfortunately, the down of the new millennium witnessed various manifestations of discontentment demonstrated on a patro – client relationship with increasing frequency and intensity bordering on participation, political security, and peace as it torpedoes the consolidation of democratic governance and dividends in the country. Aiyamenkhue (2010:10) noted that:
There has been a lot of crises in Nigeria politics and administration, a crisis of confidence in our elected officials, a lost offaith in our democratic government and an increasing frustration at government, and more also, an increasing frustration at the irrelevance of individual’s vote in our political process. All these crises are caused by the unholy alliance of godfatherism.
As a corollary of the above, the desire to venture into the burgeoning challenges became sacrosanct. The rationale for this project therefore, is to x-ray the activities of godfatherism in the governance of Nigeria especially in Imo state with a view to suggesting ways of eliminating the menace in the body politics of the country
Imo State of Nigeria was created in 1976 with the view of maintaining equity and balance among political units (ethnic groups) in the Federation, and since its creation till today, several internal political segments have been created for developmental and equity purposes. According to Anas, A.A. (2010), based on these intentions, a political conscience or internally agreed morality is generated for the reasons of equality in power rotation and sharing, and Imolites unanimously agreed to impose it on themselves, and this is the equity charter, which is thus a non-constitutional matter. Egwemi, V. (2007), the politics of Godfatherism whereby a candidate of a political party is chosen exclusively by an influential individual or a cabal within or sometimes, outside the party had been the style of politics being practiced in Imo State since Nigeria’s return to democracy until 2011 when Rochas Okorocha broke the jinx Egwemi, V. (2011). From 1999 when the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) began to control the government of the State, issues of Godfatherism had been at the center of the party’s affair and eventually caused its downfall. Godfatherism issue was responsible for denying Rochas the party’s ticket for the 1999 gubernatorial election in Imo. Same issue led to the emergence of Chief Ikedi Ohakim as the flag bearer for the People’s Democratic Party in Imo State during the 2007 governorship election. Joseph, R.A. (2010) After Ohakims emergence as the party’s candidate for the 2007 governorship election, aggrieved members joined forces and formed a parallel group within the party which they named. On the other hand, Chief Ohakim teamed up with his allies within the PDP framework to form a group which they named New Face Organization (NFO). The stage became set for a protracted political battle between the two factions the Alliance group and the NFO. Such was the state of the PDP when Rochas Okorocha was called by some concerned citizens to rescue the State from political Gangsterism and Godfatherism Egwu, S. (2009). As at September 2010 when political parties in Imo State were preparing for the gubernatorial election scheduled for to take place the following year, the People’s Democratic Party were still enmeshed in internal crisis arising from issues of Godfatherism. According to reports from the Front Page of the Red Parrot Newspapers Published on Sept. 15th 2010, “The Chairman of Isu Local Government Area of Imo State, Mr Ignatius Egbuchulam, described the then PDP National Chairman, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo as an assassin hired to kill Imo PDP, accusing him of imposing members of the Alliance group on the Party to be its executives Ibrahim, J. (2008). The election which was captured on video was generally accepted by the delegates but the tale changed on Monday, 1st November, 2010 when one Chief Clifford Okonkwo from Okwuabala was sworn in at the Dan Anyiam Stadium as the Chairman of the Party in place of Mr Emmanuel Obi. The newspaper further reported that some PDP stalwarts led by Chief Arthur Nzeribe jungled the list right inside the stadium. According to Kawu, I.M. (2009), the emerging scenario placed the delegates in a confused state as they were at a loss concerning who to refer to as their chairman – Mr Obi, who actually won the election or Chief Okonkwo whose name was being used to replace the winner. The PDP at the State level was not left out in the bizarre cases of Godfatherism and irregularities that ravaged the party during the October, 2010 Congress. Musa, D. (2010), the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PDP cancelled the selection of Mrs Kema Chikwe as the party’s Candidate for the Owerri Senatorial race after Mrs Chris Anyanwu presented a video clip which revealed some PDP stalwarts removing her votes from the ballot box and stuffing same in their pockets at the at the Grasshoppers Handball Stadium, venue of the congress. She threatened to show the video clip of the illegalities at the primaries on Cable News Network (CNN) unless the PDP declared her winner of the Primary election. Oguntola, S. (2010), fortunately for Rochas, the government of Chief Ikedi Ohakim had performed below expectation and therefore failed to secure the support of most Imo State electorate, leading to his defeat at the polls. Indeed, Okorochas victory can be regarded as unique not only because he has no political godfather, but also because he contested for the election on the platform of an opposition political party, APGA. For the first time in the history of Imo State, an incumbent governor lost in an election despite the fact that he had the support of many political heavyweights in Nigeria including the then president, Good Luck Jonathan. Ojo, E.O (2007), many political analysts are of the view that Rochas emergence as governor has rescued Imo from the clutches of political godfathers. Having contested in primary elections while in the PDP some years earlier, Owelle Rochas Okorocha knew and understood the style of politics played by the party and this is no doubt a major factor that propelled him to dump the party when he did. It will be recalled that while addressing Igbos at the 5th annual International Convention of Imo State Congress of America (ISCA) from 2nd to 5th August 2013 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in the USA, Owelle Rochas Okorocha accused the People Democratic Party of playing the politics of Godfatherism as well as mismanaging the economic resources of Nigeria. Suffice it to say that Okorochas victory at the gubernatorial election in 2011 have paved way for the emergence of an era in Imo State where candidates of political parties do not need to enter into any agreement formally or informally with a godfather for the purpose winning in an election Luckham, J. (2013). The way in which Governor Okorocha has conditioned the minds of most politicians in Imo State presently is such that practice of Godfatherism no longer appeals to them. They now work hard to earn the support of the electorate rather than depending on a godfather to help them win in an election. They argue that if Rochas who came on board the political scene without the support of a godfather can defeat an incumbent governor in an election, why can’t they do so equally? If the present campaign by Governor Okorocha against political Godfatherism continues to achieve positive results in the next 12 years, the issue of Godfatherism in Imo State politics will surely be a thing of the past Bastian, S. (2009). The multiplicity of candidates is an indication that our people enjoy party politics and are not afraid to offer themselves. But since all 27 candidates cannot become governors at the same time, we hope that the parties, particularly PDP with the largest number of governorship aspirants, would sort itself out in the primaries and nominate a credible candidate to bear its flag. For now, the APC and APGA have only two known candidates each and may not have difficulty dropping one in favour of the other. Notwithstanding, we wonder how many of these candidates are really coming out with the intent of governing Imo. Omodia S.M.(2010), How many want to make noise with the hope of getting settled with big money and then step down to live happily ever after until the next election? Settlement politics is a slap on our fledgling democracy. We warn the spoilers and mockers of our democracy to stop distracting the people. Other clogs on the wheel of our democracy are the godfathers who sponsor candidates with the intention of recouping their millions after they win. And like a flag hoisted on a pole dances to the wind, so do the godfathers expect the Governor to dance to their selfish tune of corruption and injustice. Those who perceive political offices as their birthright are also warned to rethink Schumpeter, J.A. (2014). So are those who make and break promises with impunity, hoping the people won’t remember. We are also advising anyone at all levels – from Federal to State, who wants to use the power of incumbency to remain in power not to forget what happened in 2011 in Imo State. History doesn’t repeat itself but most certainly can. Chief Ofomata Onyekaba, a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress in Imo State is a renowned transporter, contractor, farmer, social crusader, youth mobiliser and financier. He is a philanthropist whose foundation has positively touched many lives in Arondizogu Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State. He spoke with newsmen in his Okigwe corporate headquarters office, describing the performance of Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha as a feat which, according to him, would make him invincible if he decides to seek re-election in 2015. Onyekaba said Okorocha has remained a purposeful leader whose grassroots mobilization and support has placed him at the top in Imo State politics and in the country generally, insisting that his Imo Rescue Mission agenda has really touched every sector of the state economy. Regional Editor Val Amanze brings excerpts of the interview. Shobayo, I. (2010), the truth of the matter is that we don’t know whether he will be interested to seek re-election or run for Presidency in 2015, or not. Governor Rochas Owelle Anayo Okorocha’s performance as the governor of Imo State has been very wonderful, that is the only adjective to qualify his performance. Do you know, our kind hearted and humble governor has done unquantifiable things in Imo State, a feat that has made him very unbeatable if he decides to seek re-election Omotola, J.S (15). In the history of Imo State, no governor achieved what this man has done just under three years. Late Governor Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe performed during his own time but his performance cannot be compared with the performance of this governor who I can say has a magic wand in the transformation of the state. His Imo Rescue Mission agenda has so touched every aspect of this state’s economy. When he was campaigning in 2011, he said if elected governor he would work to ensure that Imo must be better Dahl, R. (2008). So many people in Imo State then thought it was a mere political and campaign slogan that would not be accomplished but today he has proven detractors wrong because his solid achievements are evident in every sector. He has even exceeded his campaign promises to the good people of Imo State. So, if he decides to seek re-election in 2015, will there be any alternative to him? The answer is no, because his works are very verifiable for people to see and judge. There is nothing like Godfatherism in the state any longer. In fact, every well-meaning Imo sons and daughters are very grateful with the total elimination of God fatherism politics in Imo State by Governor Okorocha’s administration Diamond, L. (2013). That Imo is calm and progressing today is because Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s government has completely killed and destroyed Godfatherism politics in Imo State. From 1999 till 2011, can anybody tell me what if any single progress was made in Imo State? The answer is no. These evil Godfathers of whomsoever that is in the office as governors will allow this Godfathers to feed fat on the allocation meant to develop and transform the state. Why don’t you ask yourself where the governors under the powerful influence of the governors then invested all the allocations that came to the state then? That we are seeing the light and dividend of democracy today is because there is no more Godfatherism in the state Held, D. (2014). The Imo state Governor, Owelle rochas has called on the people of Anambra State to toe the line of Imo people by resisting godfatherism. Governor Okorocha made the call at the Anambra State governorship campaign flag-off of the All Progressive Congress [APC] held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral field Onitsha. He described Godfatherism in the Nigerian politics as an evil bondage that must be for credible leaders to emerge. He reminded the people of the need to guide their consciences against being swayed by money or other material gifts from selfish politicians. Anytime you see them give you money for politics, remember it is your money they stole that they are giving you he admonished. IDEA (2013), Governor Okorocha attested that Senator Chris Ngige has all the potentials to give Anambra State a most credible and transparent leadership and urged them to vote for him. How should Imolites and Nigerians face the godfather challenges today, vis-à-vis the equity charter? Prof Olufemi Taiwo promptly reminds us today that the modern political environment or society has bent to process than outcome in politicking, and remarks that trusting your Leader, Godfather, Ethnic Group or Chief may not be best to secure a State’s or Nation’s advantage Albert, I. O. (2013). The godfather phenomenon has direct link with procedure. That is why “godfathers thrive in environments in which people, in this case, politicians, don’t think that they can trust the process that guides, authorises, and selects winners in the enterprise that they participate in to yield outcomes that are favourable to their interests[Olufemi Taiwo.2011.160]”, especially after investing on the godson. Thus, there is almost a contradictory relationship between the Babanigbejo (godfather) phenomenon and due process. The legacy of this tragedy shows itself more in the lack of trust in the play of rules. This is because if those that play the rules end up getting short shrift, it is not likely that trust in the efficacy of the rule-following will be enhanced (Olufemi Taiwo.2011.161). Consequently, a whole culture is created in which generations are socialized into believing that they cannot obtain any benefits except by their linkage to godfathers (Olufemi Taiwo.2011.164-169). The fact as Taiwo sees it is that in the modern dispensation, process is absolute in such a way that substantive justice is sacrificed for procedural justice. By so doing, what we practice in the contemporary Imo State is not a democracy or any political system that has been appropriately matched with any preexisting sorts.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
There is hardly any issue or social phenomenon that has attracted and continues to attract scholarly attention as political godfather and godson in Imo state. Political godfather and governance are related but contradictory phenomenon in which a lot of intellectual energy has been directed towards understanding their fundamental nature, character, causes and effects or impact on Nigerian democracy.
Attempts by scholars to define, categorize, qualify or quantify political godfather in Imo state have led to a huge body of literature consistently churned out, in attempt to explain its causal factors, processes and constraints. Over the past fourteen years, therefore Nigeria’s grave political development crisis have generated a growing body of analyses and prescriptions on what has gone wrong and what should be done (Gideons, 2010). The dominant strands of analytical expositions have appeared prominent in the political and intellectual circle, giving rise to diametrically oppressed interrogation of the injection of godfatherism in Nigeria’s body Politics.
Experience has, however, shown that the application of this concept has mostly resulted to democratic failures and disasters. From denial of electing credible candidates to imposition of mediocrity into political and appointive positions, and the whole experience has been that of pains, misery, penury, squalor and damnation arising from poor performance and poor service delivery among godsons.
Again, the whole scenario has been the promotion of political follow-follow mentality and the empowerment of disempowerment. The point that needs to be reinstated here above all is that, it is impossible to understand the character of political godfatherism in the past and its contemporary forms in the Nigeria’s fourth republic.
1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1. To examine the effects of Godfatherism in the electoral process of Imo state.
2. To access the problems associates with Godfatherism in the electoral process.
3. To examine the strategies to curb Godfatherism in the electoral process in Nigeria.
4. Investigate whether Godfatherism has any good impact in electoral process in Nigeria.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The point that needs to be reinstated here above all is that, it is impossible to understand the character of political godfatherism in the past and its contemporary forms in the Nigeria’s fourth republic.
It is against this backdrop that the research questions below become sacrosanct;
i. What are the factors affecting good governance in Nigeria?
ii. Has political godfatherism lead to poor delivery of democratic dividends in Imo state?
1. What are the effects of Godfatherism in the electoral process of Imo state?
2. What are the problems associates with Godfatherism in the electoral process?
3. What are the strategies to curb Godfatherism in the electoral process in Nigeria?
4. Dose Godfatherism has any good impact in electoral process in Nigeria.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
In this research, the significance of this study is to bring together the various ways and facts as regards to subject matter, Godfatherism and credible electoral process in Imo state.
1. It is believed that the outcome of this research work will be of interest to political parties in Nigeria.
2. The research work will provide them with vital information regarding the problems Godfatherism and credible electoral process. States can utilize this study to make amendments or control a number of lapses that may be affecting electoral processes in Nigerian’s states, in terms of lack of constitutional policies, political instabilities, godfather Godson problems.
3. It will also highlight the benefits of maintaining credible electoral process in Nigerian’s state which can help to increase the status of the good governance in the country.
4. This research work will also serve as a vital material to those who may want to carry out further research work in this regard.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The research work focuses attention on identifying Godfatherism and credible electoral process in Imo state: 2007-2015. The researcher limits the scope of the study to Imo state alone where he wants to examine how an effective, accurate, direct and reliable credible electoral process is for a better productivity of states.
1.6 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
A study of this nature is bound to experience certain problems as such the constraints imposed on the research include:
TIME: A study of this nature needs relatively long time during which information for accurate or at least near accurate inference could be drawn. The period of the study was short, time posed as constraints to the research.
COST: The research would have extended the survey to other area at the empirical level, but limitation as included cost of transportation to the source of material and the cost of time setting of the already completed work.
LACK OF COOPERATION: Many of the respondents are usually aggressive to relay the issue that borders cooperation among the respondents border.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Constituency: – This is the people of an area district who vote for their congress person and are represented by him or her for the congressional period.
Democracy: – Democracy, or democratic government, is “a system of government in which all the people of a state or polity are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a parliament or similar assembly
Electoral process: – This is an election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office.
Government: – is the system by which a state or community is controlled.
Godfatherism: – is a symbiotic relationship between two persons namely; the godfather and the godson, where the godfather uses his political power and wealth to secure political position for the godson, who upon ascension into power, pays gratification to his mentor in kind or in cash.