He stormed the city of Houston on visitation this summer. Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) was one of the All Progressives Congress’ governorship candidates in its recently concluded primaries. His life story as he recounted them was compelling. His beginning in life was humbling. He captured his life’s journey in an emotional rendition. Maybe, Akintola was not the best among contestants jostling to be Oyo State governor; but his speech after he was dogged out of the race drew my attention. He said these words: “Today is a sad day. Honestly, I was determined to contest the poll from the get go…But I have listened to the piece of advice from our leaders and most especially from our revered leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu…Truly, we have both ‘fought a good fight but today I feel too cheated to have been begged to step down…I hereby announce my withdrawal from the Oyo State party politics. Good day and good night”. This is the summary of the pain that many people trapped in the belly of godfathers suffer in Nigeria.
Akintola has surely been a beneficiary in times past of a form of goodwill from Asiwaju Tinubu, the man many love to hate in Nigerian politics. Tinubu is the bell that keeps ringing. Those who love him are all over him like bees over honey. The lives of some wouldn’t have had meaning if they never met Tinubu. His nurturing fingers have raised men making waves in Nigerian politics and business. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo will attest to my submission; so will Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola, and former Lagos State Governor Raji Fashola, who now has ministerial oversight in three ministries. Governors, ministers, legislators, and ambassadors at varying times in the last decade have sucked from Tinubu’s heavy political breast. The list is endless. You can hate him all you want, without prejudice, not one person I can recall in Nigerian politics builds men like Tinubu. But those who hate him with boiling passion keep a surreal distance. They wish he was never born to loom large over Nigerian politics. His disciples do not brand him a godfather; to them, he is a mentor of mega-magnitude. A mentor is a selfless facilitator, a true and timely teacher, an admirable adviser, and a candid counsellor. I love mentors. But a godfather, on the other hand, is a selfish facilitator, a dare-devil dictator, and a beastly brute. It’s tough submitting to them.
We all strive to stand on the shoulders of giants so that we can see beyond what we see. In 1159, John of Salisbury quoted in his Metalogicon the man Bernard of Chartres: “…we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.” In all of life, we all need men and women who help us achieve our goals. Your gifts and talents may not see the light of day until you begin to ride on other people’s shoulders. In church, they are called ‘Father-in-the-Lord’. In politics and business, they are called ‘Oga-at-the-top’. The mean ones I call ‘Pharaoh’ who wants you to make bricks without straws. The good ones sow into your life without an expectation of harvest. If you find yourself on the shoulders of merciful men, your life will be sweet. But if you find yourself on the shoulders of mean men, your life will be in turmoil.
When godfathers play the music, you must dance to the rhythms. With them, you have no life of yours; and you have no vision for your tomorrow in spheres where they have control. Godfathers are like a double-edged sword. When they cut others for you; you rejoice. But when they cut through your flesh and bones for others, you mourn in pain and agony. If in doubt, just look over Alausa and ask Akinwunmi Ambode, the incumbent Lagos State Governor. Ambode must have realised by now that if you must ascend to greater heights with the help of a staircase stacked up by a godfather, someday, you will descend through the same. He who lives by the godfather will “die: by the godfather. Godfathers are everywhere in Nigeria, my friends. Even in our holiest of places, they are countless. The ones with the bible in one hand and anointing oil on the other are the ones you must fear most if you must keep vigil with them. They make manipulating pronouncements with God as a cover. They extort so you can get exalted in positions and accorded recognitions sitting up high on the altar of God. With godfathers in church, you cannot sit up high and pay low.
Our politics is the hive of godfathers. There is Nyesom Wike in Rivers; Bukola Saraki in Kwara and the Senate; Ibikunle Amosun in Ogun; Ayo Fayose in Ekiti; Isiaka Ajimobi in Oyo; Rochas Okorocha in Imo; el-Rufai in Kaduna; and on and on. These ones too once upon a time complained of the oppressive machines of godfathers. But history has shown that critics of godfathers are godfathers in a sleep-state themselves. When money and power come to a black man, the sleeping giant of godfatherism in him will wake up. And the spinning cycle carousels on and on forever.
No man was born a godfather. The people over whom the godfather plays God crowned him as such. In any society where the voting majority live with slavery mentality, godfatherism will always thrive. Our culture is annoyingly funny with its master-slave mentality. Flip through history pages; has there ever been a time in our politics that godfathers aren’t towering tall over the affairs of the nation? Poverty! Oh, poverty! My people have surrendered to their repressors and tormentors because of your vile and vicious visitation. Poverty! Oh, poverty! You have reeled the destinies of talented but hungry men and women into the iron-grips of godfathers. Poverty! Oh, poverty! You must die in Nigeria!
What a man cannot resist will continue to exist. If you hate something so much, resist it until it ceases to torment you. If you tear down a palace, there will be no king. If you shut down a church, there may be no pastor. Get a plane grounded, and there will be no pilot. Demobilise a car, and there is no driver. If you don’t like the acts of a Pharaoh, then get out Egypt! If Nigerians truly detest the rule of godfathers, they must remove godfatherism. But is that possible? Godfathers die, but godfatherism never will. As long as the earth remains, godfathers shall always breathe and not cease. If you know Ambode, please tell him that he may feel disappointed by recent politicking in Lagos, but he must not be angry. Tell him to remember that just four years ago, he was a benefactor of a godfather’s kindness and generosity. He was the least considered, but he eventually topped the list. His godfather made some people cry to make him laugh. With godfathers, what goes around comes around quick. When it does, it hurts like a kick in the testicles. And when it hurts, you just have to suck it up! It’s the rule of the game.