Academics, especially those in the discipline of political science, may need to do a study, or come out with findings on previous studies, on why politicians ultimately want to be godfathers. The findings may be interesting. They would know if the move is driven by pecuniary reasons or the politician’s constant quest for relevance. There are bound to be many reasons unearthed in the process. I hold that they may boil down to what the late quintessential British politician and statesman Winston Churchill asserted; that politicians lace their selfish pursuits with the guise of service.
The intrigue for me is why people who rant against godfatherism, and in fact, fight it with vehemence, now seek to install themselves in that position. In Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha sought to dictate who became what in a state that he came to govern without the input of any godfather. He rode on the back of the people into governance. He did his best in office. I will not join those who give the impression that Rochas did nothing in office. That is a blatant lie just meant to further the political cause of his opponents. Such political lies may be permissible in pursuit of office, but those who are not politically aligned should not stand truth on its head to make their point.
For me, Rochas went into murky waters when he sought to install is son-in-law to succeed him. He began to build a political structure, which would have served him well had he not wished to deploy it to ends that would benefit his family politically. His moves were too brazenly selfish. He would be a senator, as he now is, and his son-in-law would sit in the seat he vacated as governor, his daughter would take the seat her mother vacated as First Lady, or wife of the governor, as Aisha Buhari has directed that they be addressed for purposes of protocol. That was daringly selfish. That move blinded everyone to his achievements in office. If he had deployed his structure to support someone else, his party might not have lost the state. But godfathers are blinded by their ambition to see reason.
We move to Edo State, where Adams Oshiomhole became governor and unleashed a political war on those he perceived to be godfathers. The Tony Anenihs, Ogbemudias and others came on the wrong side of his political armament, as he unleashed war on them to mitigate their influence and ensure that they did not rise against him . He embarked on a campaign to whittle down political godfathers in the state, and mounted a campaign against them. On completion of his two terms, he pushed for Godwin Obaseki, and helped him get into office. Obaseki is on the verge of completing his first term, we now hear that the All Progressives Congress (APC) chairman wants to turn his back on Obaseki, and perhaps install another person. The man who fought against godfathers now wants to be one. That is the intriguing thing about this phenomenon. Here was a man who stood against Rochas the other day in his bid to install his son-in-law now wanting to wear the clothes he wanted Rochas to take off. The grapevine says the President has penciled Oshiomhole in the ministerial list, perhaps to gently ease him out of the embattled chairmanship seat. If that happens, we may now have another type of Rivers State in Edo. It would be a different shade of Rivers, given that both men are in the same party, but different camps as it now appears. The camps are divided in Edo on account of attempts by Oshiomhole to emerge as the godfather. Obaseki is building his own structure. He should look for former governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State to learn where he erred and how to make amends.
Ambode, who got the short end of the stick in his second term bid, regretted not getting into the thick of politics, but would rather be a technocrat in politics. Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna quickly shed that toga and steeped himself in politics when he came face-to-face with entrenched godfathers in the state. He now beats his chest in triumph over them. Obaseki may take lessons from those colleagues. He may dislodge Oshiomhole or go the way of Ambode. We watch as events unfold.
Bayelsa State presents a similar kettle of fish. The story from there is that Sereiake Dickson, the Countryman Governor of the state, may be squaring it up with former President Goodluck Jonathan. The story is yet misty, not clear, because the former President is said not to have clearly emerged in favour of anyone to succeed Dickson, who is due to leave office in February 2020. The battle for his successor has begun. The grapevine says he is not on the same page with the former President. The story is yet unclear, but I would hate to believe that Jonathan wants to be a godfather. It is not impossible though, given the trend in other places. He may well be desirous of becoming what other politicians now see as the ultimate. There have been rumours, too, that Dickson may move to another party, notably the current ruling party, with his group. These are unconfirmed but do they not say smoke does not rise in the absence of fire? All these point to the reality that power, like money, is insatiable. However, no one will have them forever. If Dantata had cornered all the money, there would have been no Dangote. Power and money, good as they are, do not stay steady in one place. Godfathers do not want to stay away from power, but that cannot be. Such a disposition runs counter to the natural flow of things. Those who have played their role on the stage of power should take a bow for new actors to make their entrance.