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Godfather always comes to grief

Since 2007 when the president and most of the first set of state governors elected in 1999 completed their constitutionally limited two terms of office,…

Since 2007 when the president and most of the first set of state governors elected in 1999 completed their constitutionally limited two terms of office, the word “anointment” appears in the lexicon of Nigerian politics like a recurring decimal. Every Nigerian aspirant tries to get himself anointed. It is only when he does not succeed and someone else is anointed that he will cry to the high heavens, alleging that there is no level playing ground in the race. However, an anointed aspirant does not complain even if the playing field is more uneven than Moon’s surface.
In 2007 when the departing president tried and failed to get a third term in office, he took it upon himself to choose and impose a successor on his party and ultimately on the country. He went further to anoint other people to become governors, mostly those who laboured for his Third Term agenda. Bad habits tend to catch on very fast. Wherever they could do so, departing state governors also anointed their successors and foisted them on the party and the electorate. Trouble is, almost all the men who were anointed and who made it to the state houses soon fell out with their godfathers.
There is no space here to recount all of them but President Umaru Yar’adua began the rebellion by striking an independent line from his godfather Obasanjo, a legacy that President Jonathan gladly inherited. One rebellion begets another. The most serially betrayed godfather in Nigerian politics was Oloye Olusola Saraki. When Kwara State’s governor Admiral Mohamed Lawal turned against Oloye after 1999, the latter anointed his son Dr. Bukola Saraki in 2003 but Bukola also quarrelled with Oloye in 2010-11.
In Kaduna State departing Governor Ahmed Makarfi anointed Architect Namadi Sambo in 2007 but within a year of Sambo’s climb the two men were in conflict, eagerly fuelled by political associates. Their quarrel was only pushed to the background when Patrick Yakowa, a former deputy to both men, took over in 2010. In Zamfara State, Governor Mamuda Shinkafi’s rebellion against godfather Alhaji Ahmed Sani Yariman Bakura puzzled political watchers because Shinkafi was the only deputy governor throughout Nigeria that was anointed by his departing boss. Their bitter quarrel ended with Shinkafi’s defeat at the polls by another Yarima anointed, current governor Abdul-Aziz Yari.
In Enugu State, Governor Chimaroke Nnamani anointed his chief of staff Sullivan Chime to succeed him in 2007 but they soon fell out. The departing governor of Abia State, Orji Uzo Kalu successfully anointed two governors in Abia and Imo States in 2007. In fact, Orji was elected governor while he was cooling his heels in prison. Both men quickly fell out with Kalu. In Kebbi State, Governor Muhammad Adamu Aliero anointed Alhaji Sa’idu Dakingari straight out of the Customs but within a year the two men were at each other’s throats. In Gombe State, Governor Muhammadu Danjuma Goje anointed Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo in 2011 but within weeks his successor turned on him.
Probably the most notorious godfather-godson quarrel was Chief Chris Ubah versus Governor Chris Ngige in 2003-4, when the latter was abducted and his “resignation” was announced. Among other notable quarrels, there was Chief Lamidi Adedibu versus Governor Rashidi Ladoja in Oyo State, said to be over the sharing of security vote. In Nasarawa State in 2007 Governor Aliyu Doma rebelled against Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu who anointed him.  In Borno State, Governor Kashim Shettima has pulled away from his godfather Ali Modu Sheriff and most recently, Governor Willy Obiano of Anambra State repudiated his godfather Peter Obi as soon as he took over. Another quarrel is brewing in Bayelsa State between godfather President Goodluck Jonathan and godson Governor Seriake Dickson.
The few successful cases of anointment in Nigerian politics were Vice President Atiku Abubakar/Governor Boni Haruna in 1999-2007; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu/Governor Raji Fashola in Lagos; Vice President Namadi Sambo/Governor Ramalan Yero in Kaduna; former governor James Ibori/Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in Delta; former governor Ibrahim Idris/Governor Idris Wada in Kogi as well as Bukola Saraki/Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed in Kwara.
Right now, almost all the governors that are about to complete their terns are busy anointing successors. One of the messiest is in Plateau State where Governor Jonah Jang has anointed Senator Pwajok, said to be his nephew, as his successor. In Sokoto State, Governor Aliyu Wamakko has anointed Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to take over from him. In Niger State, Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu has anointed his Chief of Staff, Umar Nasko. In Katsina State, Governor Shema has anointed his commissioner Engineer Musa Nashuni.
There are two important anointments in Bauchi State. FCT minister Bala Mohamed ended up dropping out of the race for lack of anointment. Right now, Governor Isa Yuguda is thought to have anointed either former Minister of State for Health Dr Mohamed Ali Pate or his former SSG Alhaji Aminu Hammayo while PDP national chairman Ahmadu Mu’azu is believed to have anointed former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mahmud Yayale Ahmed. The last time Mu’azu anointed anyone, matters did not end well. His anointed successor in 2007 Alhaji Mohamed Nadada Umar lost the race to Isa Yuguda while Mu’azu too lost his Senate bid to Bala Mohamed.
In Borno, Ali Sheriff is up to another anointing game, this time inside PDP. He has anointed House member Alhaji Mohamed Imam as his candidate. He has first to overcome other PDP bigwigs who spent the last 11 years battling Sheriff in Borno politics. Next, there is the uphill task he faces in the main election, with most Borno citizens thinking the PDP-led Federal Government did not do enough to save them from Boko Haram.
In Taraba State too, anointment is the watchword. Acting Governor Garba Umar is seeking a tenure of his own but General T.Y. Danjuma has anointed Architect Darius Ishaku for the plum job. Among other anointments in Nigerian politics, President Jonathan’s Principal Secretary Ambassador Hassan Tukur has anointed Malam Nuhu Ribadu to take over in Adamawa State. The project ran into a hitch when Acting Governor Ahmed Umaru Fintiri insisted on completing Nyako’s term, followed by an even bigger hitch when a court ruled that Nyako’s former deputy James Bala Ngilari should be sworn in as the governor. Now Ngilari wants to contest again in 2015, making the Ribadu anointment a difficult task.
There are reports that First Lady Patience Jonathan is trying to anoint governors all the way from Bauchi to Oyo, Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa States. She is even angling to push out Dickson from the Bayelsa governorship next year, her husband and herself not having learnt any lessons from 2011 when they ousted Timipre Sylva.
Why is it that in Nigerian politics, godchildren almost always rebel against godfathers? It is either something is wrong with the godchildren or something is wrong with the godfathers, or both. The speed, the particulars and the depth of the falling out between godfathers and godchildren vary with each case. In some cases public opinion convicts the godfather and in other cases public opinion convicts the godson. The godfathers that decisively lost the battle for public opinion include Chief Chris Ubah, Chief Orji Uzo Kalu and Ali Modu Sheriff. All three are thought of as impossible to please godfathers. Ubah went so far as to make Ngige to sign a post-dated resignation letter. Ali Modu Sheriff is also seen as an impossible godfather. His quantity is so low in Nigerian politics and his former godson Governor Kashim Shettima’s quantity is so high in politics these days that virtually no one listens to Sheriff’s case, his Federal Government-provided heavy military security notwithstanding.
The question now is, with Nigerian godfatherism and anointment having a higher mortality rate than an Ebola infection, why is anyone still trying to play it in the run up to 2015?

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