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Saturday 26 September 2020


By Hashim Yussuf Amao

Nigeria is still deteriorating in her political sickness, when she will be totally healed is a raucous scoreline no one could perfectly predict. Lately, results of gubernatorial elections across certain states seem to be giving green light against this menace - godfatherism - which has pervaded all level of government in Nigeria.

The Saraki’s dynasty in Kwara State was called to a halt in last year's gubernatorial election. 'O to ge', enough is enough was not just a liberal song on the lips of every Kwarans, the resonating slogan triggered the spirit of Kwarans to vote massively against Bukola Saraki, a former two-time-governor of Kwara state; and a senator who was at the time of his defeat, the senate president of 8th NASS. He was beaten to pulp by Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe of APC with a wide margin of 54,814 votes, after he had polled 68, 994 votes as against the whooping 123,808 polled by Oloriegbe. As if that was enough, all his allies lost their bids for the 3 senatorial posts. His governorship candidate, Razaq Atunwa was not left behind in the poignant humiliation. It was hard to believe Saraki’s family which has produced every Kwara Governor since 1979 could be relegated to naught. But the unimaginable happened, and the back of the beast was finally broken.

Cutting to the chase of anti-godfatherism, Kaduna state Governor, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, had maintained his fair stand against the menace, publicly on the eve of Saturday, May 4, 2019 at an event organized in Lagos state by the Bridge Club tagged, “An evening with His Excellency Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State.’’ During the question and answer session of the event, A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and three-time commissioner in Lagos State, Dr Muiz Banire, posed a question at El-Rufai on how to deal with godfathers in Nigerian politics.

Responding to the question, El-Rufai said, “Godfatherism. This is Lagos. Let me tell you something sir; you know, Kaduna State used to be like that. There were three or four politicians in Kaduna that you could not become anything unless you had them on your side. Those were the godfathers of Kaduna politics and you had to carry them along and you know, the three words, ‘carry them along’ mean paying them regularly. But we chose a different path and the long and short of it now is that after this election in 2019, we have retired all of them; we had to.’’ The Governor went further to reveal the secret to relegating godfathers in politics; which is meeting directly with the people.

This seems to be an eye-opener to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state. No one would have thought the Governor could stand tall against Adam Oshiomole; his political leader and mentor who nominated him as his successor in the 2016 Edo state gubernatorial election. The beginning of their political jaunt was sweet and lovely, that one could easily say it would be a companionship of forever. But shortly after Obaseki became the governor in 2016, misunderstanding engulfed between the two men, and mess made its way between the two Messrs. The rift was subtle at first, but became abstruse in the long run.

The first casualty of the mirage was Adam Oshiomole who was suspended by his local ward in Edo. Obaseki could not feign innocence towards this development, he played a major role. Oshiomole, with his respectable profile would never want to fall at the feet of Obaseki, an ally of his, who was expected to be at his beck and call, but rather turned a bone in the neck of Oshiomole. Just when Oshiomole thought of dying down the ward humiliation, another manipulation knocked his way when a court was persuaded to relieve him of his duty as the National chairman of All Progressive Congress – an unforeseen battle he put his best leg into, but came out as a loser. Amid intense anger, he defied all odds and ensured Obaseki lost the ticket for governorship aspirant of APC. On June 12, 2020 Obaseki was later disqualified from APC governorship primary on the basis of inconsistencies in his academic credentials. Which made him, in no less time, married an opposition party, PDP where he was provided with the opportunity to vie for the governorship post. Pastor Ize-Iyamu, a 2016 governorship candidate under PDP was made to replace Obaseki as APC governorship candidate.

Many thought the son of Godwin would lose the election heavily. He obviously was in a hard battle with politicians who are way beyond him. Adam Oshiomole, a two-time governor of Edo who singlehandedly defeated Edo PDP in 2008. Also, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a political don and national leader of All Progressive Congress, who even made a public video, toasting Edo people to shun Obaseki and cast their votes for Pastor Ize-iyamu of APC.

Instead of being gripped by fear, Obaseki rather kept his head high with untainted belief that he would retain his mandate. Many salient moves were made, vibrating sounds were initiated, “Edo no be Lagos”, a resonating chant was put on the lips of Edo indigenes, which aptly denotes "Godfatherism is not welcomed in Edo, unlike it was, in Lagos state." The people of Edo, amid fears, threats and humiliations stormed polling units and casted their votes for their favorite candidates; rejecting bribes which could have been a short-term gain for their long-term pains. Rather, they made their decision wisely so they could rake the result endlessly.

After all votes were accumulated, INEC’s Returning Officer, Prof. Akpofure Rim-Rukeh announced Godwin Obasekin as the winner of the September 19 election, having garnered 307,955 Votes as against the 223,619  of his closest rival, Ize-iyamu - Obaseki’s hand was raised in victory while Tinubu, Oshiomole, Ize-Iyamu and other APC dons were left to the second side of the divide. His victory was for democracy and people’s voice was heard, regardless of godfatherism.

If other states could follow suit, and bring an end to godfatherism that had injected corruptions into all level of Government in Nigeria, then it would be a positive message and renew the prospect of Nigerians, that hope stilll lurks beneath the future of this great country.

Born and bred in Ibadan, Hashim Yussuf Amao is a Graduate of University of Ilorin. He tweets via: @LegalBard

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