I am a participant in a debating forum. Recently we debated a proposition stating that “Godfatherism in Nigerian politics is a necessary evil which must be accommodated for the foreseeable future”.
It was interesting, to say the least. In fact very illuminating.
I happen to agree with the proposition but not for any of the reasons that were put forward, as I personally had a completely different opinion to any that was proffered.
I believe that Godfatherism is part of the fabric of society so deeply woven that it permeates our entire lives at all levels. To attempt to get rid of it would be akin to trying to live without blood!
The best way to see Godfatherism is to understand FMCG marketing.
Imagine that Procter and Gamble want to launch a new toothpaste. Visualise the steps they would go through.
Then visualise your cousin wanting to also launch a toothpaste. Visualise the steps that she would have to go through to get off the ground.
Understand the difference between the two, and you understand that Godfatherism is nothing more than leveraged brand extension.
The first part of that is social proof. The Godfather has a reputation. The reputation allows people to trust. Trust cannot be bought!
The “Godfather” also has the means to execute. In this case through an extensive network of marketers, distributors, manufacturing plants, logistics hubs etc.
The new Procter and Gamble affiliated toothpaste management key into this, and do not have to build their own. They leverage the existing infrastructure.
These days in most G20 countries the biggest political Godfathers are actually semi-anonymous committees. They are establishment institutions.
To understand this again look at the FMCG world.
If the entire board of Procter and Gamble were to perish overnight, within 72 hours a new board would replace them, and Procter and Gamble’s worldwide operation would continue, with just the slightest of hiccups.
In technology, Godfatherism manifests itself as venture capitalists, who for control of your fledgeling startup, will financially back you, and give access to their networks of influencers allowing you to in a short amount of time become a member of the 1% club.
In UK politics such an example of Godfatherism is the 1922 Committee of the Conservative party, who for all intents and purposes decide who can be Prime Minister and who can’t!
UK Prime Minister, Teresa May, is a product of Godfatherism.
In China, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China is a product of Godfatherism.
Even Donald Trump, who is not a product of Godfatherism, and who claims to be champion of anti-establishment, is solidifying his position as a Godfather, crisscrossing the US campaigning for candidates in the midterms, candidates that will be beholden to him should they enter the legislature.
Godfatherism appeals to those who want shortcuts. Those that seek to evade traditional time and effort.
So how do you get rid of a Godfather?
If the role Godfather is manifested in an individual you can’t. You can only replace them, and in doing so become a Godfather yourself.
To do that you have to build a parallel network that will overwhelm theirs. This takes time, patience, and not a small amount of deliberate financing.
In the instance where the role of the Godfather has been taken over by a committee, it’s slightly easier as what you have to do is infiltrate the committee with your own people so as to influence the outcome of any decisions.
Godfatherism, in its myriad of forms, is here to stay!
Meanwhile, the 2019 Nigeria General Elections are here. So here is a shoutout to all those that want to have a chance in being actually being elected.