Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

God-Fatherism in the Politics of Nigeria: Continuity and Change/GOD-FATHERISM DANS LA POLITIQUE DU NIGÉRIA: CONTINUITÉ ET CHANGEMENT

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

God-Fatherism in the Politics of Nigeria: Continuity and Change/GOD-FATHERISM DANS LA POLITIQUE DU NIGÉRIA: CONTINUITÉ ET CHANGEMENT

Article excerpt


The concept of god-fatherism in other words clientelism; patron-client relationship in Nigerian politics is not a new phenomenon. It has been in existence right from the inception of party politics in the country. Thus, it is a phenomenon in continuity but with changes. This concept - god-fatherism in politics implies a dominant individual in the politics of an area or geo-political zone who is capable either by her/his influence/past record or current political power of determining who win elections in that area or zone. What is new or change however in theory and practice of god-fatherism in Nigerian politics is that, it has taken a different posture from the earlier posture which was based on ideology, charisma, contribution and achievement of the individual god-father to the current posture based on thuggery, money and coercion among others. This paper therefore tries to unravel the previous and current postures of god-fatherism in Nigerian politics and proffers suggestions for improvement.

Key words: God-fatherism; Politics; Change; Nigeria

Résumé: Le concept du clientélisme d'un god-fatherism en d'autres termes ; les relations de patron-client dans la politique nigérienne ne sont pas un nouveau phénomène. Elles ont été dans le juste d'existence du commencement de la politique de partis dans le pays. Ainsi, c'est un phénomène dans la continuité mais avec des changements. Ce concept , un God-fatherism dans la politique implique une personne dominante dans la politique d'un secteur ou d'une zone géopolitique qui est capable par son pouvoir politique record ou actuel d'influence/passé de déterminer qui des élections de victoire dans ce secteur ou zone. Ce qu'il y a de neuf ou le changement cependant de la théorie et de la pratique d'un god-fatherism dans la politique nigérienne est ce, il a pris une posture différente de la posture plus tôt qui a été basée sur l'idéologie, le charisme, la contributionet l'accomplissement du parrain individuel à la posture actuelle basée sur le vol à main armée,l'argent et la coercition notamment. Ce document essaie donc de se démêler les postures précédentes et actuelles d'un god-fatherism dans la politique nigérienne et offre des suggestions pour l'amélioration.

Mots clés: Un Dieu-fatherism; La politique; Changement; Nigeria


With the kidnap and the re-kidnap of Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State in July 2003, barely two months after he was sworn in, in May 2003, discussion on god-fatherism in Nigerian politics was ignited. This development was based on the allegation that the kidnap resulted from the misunderstanding between the god-father; Chris Uba (young, rich and well-connected to the power that be) and the god-son; Chris Ngige (the then Governor of Anambra State). That, the god-son could not or refused to honour the agreement with the god-father when he was to be made the Governor of Anambra State, therefore, the god-father resorted to kidnapping the god-son not by thugs but by a detachment of the Nigeria Police Force led by the then Assistant Inspector of Police; Raphael Ige.

With this background, this paper tries to position the issue of god-fatherism in Nigerian politics by discussing its earlier and present characteristics. In doing this, the paper is divided into sections; conceptual and theoretical frame-work, god-fatherism in the earlier Nigerian republics; first and second republics, god-fatherism in the later republics; third and fourth republics, causes of changes in the characteristics of god-fatherism from its posture in the earlier to later republics with conclusion and suggestions.


God-fatherism, clientilism, patronage system, patron-client clusters are terms that are used interchangeable to refer to the same phenomenon.

The patron-client (god-father - god-son) relationship - an exchange relationship between roles - may be defined as a special case of dyadic (two persons) ties involving a largely instrumental friendship in which an individual of higher socio-economic status (patron or god-father) uses his/her own influence and resources to provide protection or benefits or both for a person of lower status (client or god-son) who for his part, reciprocates by offering general support and assistance, including personal services to the patron (Scott, 1972:92). …

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