Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, June 22, 2015

Voice against Nigeria's version of "Big Man" politics

An editorial in Lagos' Daily Independent calls for a more open and transparent way of appointing government officials. What is required to make that happen?

Time Out for Godfatherism
Emmanuel Udom
A recent news report indicated that the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom, refused to assist his benefactor and former Governor Godswill Akpabio… build a new house of cards. Udom had refused to appoint Akpabio's elder brother… as Secretary to the State Government. This has once again brought into focus the disturbing issue of godfatherism in Nigerian politics.

Indeed it would be difficult to totally avoid godfatherism or endorsements in Nigeria, because even jobs in the private sector, usually go to the one who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody in the organisation's high places. It gets even more compounded because, Nigeria's 1999 Constitution insists that candidates for elective offices must be presented by political parties.

And as everyone knows, it is always the political party grandees, usually money bags or former holders of high political offices, that get to endorse, suggest or impose candidates that are usually 'elected' or 'selected' by delegates who come out in the open to perform the usual charade of party primaries…

The problem of political godfatherism or endorsements may not necessarily be in the act of endorsement per se. It is that the benefactors then want to impose their minions into strategic political positions in the government of their beneficiaries, often without regard to the competence of the nominees…

The best way out of this bind is that party delegates must not always come out of the ranks of those who survive on crumbs from the table of political party grandees. More importantly, the principle of internal democracy must be upheld within the political parties. Thus candidates that are promoted by any of the interests within political parties must go through due process…

Political godfathers who want to be relevant in the polity must screen, and present, nominees who can be trusted to make astute political judgment in picking their team and making good policy decisions…

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