Lamidi Adedibu is the Godfather of Oyo State and this is his story. My dictionary tells me that a godparent is a person who promises at a Christian BAPTISM ceremony to be responsible for a child and to teach that child about the Christian religion. In other words the godparent is that person who in the presence of man and God solemnly undertakes to develop or mold a child after his own or her own religious way of life. The child here has to be another person’s child as the biological parent is not within the intendment of a godparent. Underlying the choice of the godparent and his or her undertaking is the belief and faith that the biological parents have for him or her. The godparent must have struck a chord in the religious mind of the real parents. He or she must have impressed the biological parents and pass for an ideal Christian with the capability to impact the life of their child in a profound and positive way. This is important because the child is supposed to be kneaded and made a Christian by the godparent. Remember the catholic saying that give me a child until he is five and I will be responsible for him for life. The godparent, would as of necessity, be close to the family. He would at times be required to intervene or mediate in a conflict between the biological parents and his or her godchild. This is especially so in situations whereby the child develops a likeness and respect for the godparent.
From what we have said above, the godfather is the male godparent. Considering the fact that the male is the head of the African family and therefore more public, the godfather sounds more familiar than the godmother. But the issue of whether or not the male African assumes such a surrogate responsibility more than his female counterpart is an unnecessary aside. What we must return to is the fact that when discussed outside its religious environment, ‘godfather’ becomes ‘Godfather’ and assumes an ominous meaning. The Godfather is not a role model for a child to model on. In America for example, a Godfather is a very powerful man in a criminal organization, especially the Mafia. In Nigeria the Christian godfather is a somewhat distant fellow whose job starts and ends with answering that appellation at the christening or baptism of a child. He is that conniver who the hypocritical middle and upper class members of the society use to launder their pretentious Christianity or more appropriately ‘Christianess’.
What is in vogue and that which we will soon turn to is the Nigerian Godfather. But before then, let me remind school going children especially those in boarding secondary schools that what we want to talk about is the equivalent of the ‘schoolfather’ and ‘schoolmother’. When parents or guardians take their children or wards to boarding schools, they and their children or wards require the benevolence, guidance, counseling and protection of schoolfathers or a schoolmothers. Of course some schoolfathers and schoolmothers have abused this relationship that lawyers would call fiduciary but what in simple terms is a fidelity relationship. Besides extorting and bullying them, innocent boys and girls have been known to have been initiated into homosexuality and lesbianism by their schoolfathers and schoolmothers. There are even reports about initiations into cultism. The schoolfathers and schoolmothers cowardly but treacherously use the dependability of their schoolchildren against them and to inflict untold harms against them.
We now return to the Nigerian Godfather. To start with he is a very powerful politician with inexhaustible riches and greed. The source of his riches is dubious but mostly the government. His social and political background is obscure. He most probably has a history that a decent and responsible parent would not wish for his or her child. He may have started his Godfather career as a political thug or assassin or a contractor of death. He is barely educated but knowledgeable in the workings of government. Unlike the majority who are conned into believing that they constitute what the Englishman calls electorate (meaning those with the power to confer political authority on their fellow citizens), the Godfather does not believe in the vote or the ballot box. To him the electorate is a euphemism for idiots who gladly surrender themselves to be used at will by their clever fellow citizens. The Godfather believes in and depends entirely on himself for his survival. He does not give away any aspect of his being to his fellow man. He is his own pastor and prophet.
He is law unto himself. The law, the police and all those institutions and agencies that the state uses to subjugate the citizenry are not meant for him. He does not believe in the law and therefore lives and carries on business outside the boundaries of the law. Concepts like constitutionalism, democracy, rule of law etc are mere trappings of the educated and clever cheats in the society. He is what the Romans would have called the barbarian living in the village outside the city. His parents or perhaps his biological constitution must have abandoned him at the outskirts of civilization in his formative years.
The Godfather does not believe in God. His religion is money and power. Whereas the majority of us prefer the comfort of our homes, he prefers the streets where he grew and developed his sixth sense. He had taken risks that only people of his ilk can take. He had dared the law over and over and had survived. His sixth sense and common sense are about the streets and the elements. He is by all respect a terrorist. He knows that the general citizenry loves life whereas he prides himself in selling death. He knows that politicians are angels in the day but devils in the night. He knows that Politicians would want their opponents dead the next moment and he knows that they pay handsomely for their ungodly habits. He accepts and does dirty jobs for the conmen who occupy political offices and receives generous remuneration.
He had at a relatively early age capture the essence of society. He knows that there are only two people in the society, the conman/conwoman and the conned. He knows that there is no middle p
ath. He understands the psychology of those that are not fitted to succeed within the legal environment. The army of uneducated and jobless youths but with high survival instincts becomes his easy prey. Those people we call criminals, deviants or outlaws are his subjects. He recruits them into his kingdom and provides them with what the legal society denies them. He makes them soldiers of fortune available for the highest bidder. For the female folks in his kingdoms he molds into sex commodities. He makes the male subjects in his kingdom ruthless death merchants. To strengthen them, and of course makes himself invincible, he makes the rules in his kingdom entirely different from those of the rest of the citizenry. Whereas homicide is a crime for the rest of the society, the deadlier killers in his kingdom are the heroes and the more powerful. Whereas brains earn more in our society, brawns are better paying in his world. In no time he becomes the god of his sub cultural environment.
When he becomes the Godfather of the underworld and too old to be the garrison commander of his underworld, he looks for a prime minister and retains the office of Head of State. From his position as king of the underworld, he links up with the political world. His first move would be to put the police and security apparatus in the state under his influence. He exploits their greed and deprivations to buy their loyalty. For every crime committed by his subjects, the police get paid. The police here being the hierarchy of the police. In no time the police open up the entire society to him and thereby placing the security of lives and property at his mercy.
The Godfather who did not take this route might have been lucky to have been associated with a political usurper who plays the generous god to him. He gets unrestricted access to the coffers of the state and before long he becomes richer than the rest of his immediate society. But even at that his antics and menace on his captive society will converge with the one that took the longer and brawny route.
For Nigeria the case of the Godfather is made easier. The state (put government) is the owner of what is supposed to be the commonwealth. Most riches laundered or flaunted by individuals are derived from the government. Politics is reduced to a war that is the highest employer of people of the underworld. For what it is and provides, it is extremely dangerous and deadly. And this is where the Godfather comes in. He is rich and has soldiers of fortune for hire. If the intending politician is rich, he simply hires the services of the Godfather and pays upfront. If he is poor, he undertakes to pay in cash and kind upon assuming office.