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n Journal of African Elections - Godfathers and the 2007 Nigerian general elections
The paper is a critical analysis of the role of the 'godfathers' in the 2007 Nigerian general elections from the perspective of the elitist concept of politics, with emphasis on its manifestation, implications and possible solutions.
The main argument of the paper is that the unprecedented influence of the 'godfathers' on the 2007 elections may not be unconnected with the weak institutionalisation of political parties and related infrastructures of democracy. This enables the monetisation, privatisation and criminalisation of politics, ably assisted by the undemocratic attitudes and behaviour of major political actors at the highest level. The result has been the deinstitutionalisation of core institutions of democracy and people who have been reduced to mere clients / consumers / spectators rather than primary stakeholders in the democratisation process.
The consequences have mostly been bad governance and rising conflict across the country. Unless something fundamental is done to address the situation Nigerian elections, as the 2007 experience suggests, will produce little more than 'choiceless' democracy. The paper concludes with recommendations for the reform of all democratic institutions and the initiation of a sustainable process of political re-engineering and social mobilisation at all levels. These are possible within a reformist developmental state.
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