African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 403

Full Length Research Paper

Godfathers, political parties and electoral corruption in Nigeria

Omobolaji Ololade Olarinmoye
Council for the Development of Social Sciences in Africa, Codesria, Dakar.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 26 November 2008
  •  Published: 31 December 2008


Electoral corruption is mostly seen in Nigeria as a direct subversion of the electoral process by individuals, who are greedy for personal enrichment that electoral success underwrites in Nigeria. While not questioning the personal enrichment thesis of electoral corruption, as it is true, the paper adopts a more nuanced approach to the understanding of electoral corruption. It focuses on the realities of existence of godfathers, political parties and voters in Nigeria. It argues that electoral corruption is the result not just of the avariciousness of godfathers and politicians but of the logic of electoral competition (zero-sum) which demands that political parties in Nigeria, incapacitated by a  weak voters’ mobilization capacity  derived from their elite/caucus nature, resort to individuals (godfathers) possessing of certain attributes such as an “intuitive grasp of  and control of local voting structure,” to effect electoral success through activities that distort the electoral process or through electoral competition. Electoral corruption is further entrenched by the political and social existential demands of the godfather, which can only be met by further exercises in electoral corruption, though this time in favor of the godfathers themselves.


Key words: Godfathers, political parties, elections, corruption, Nigeria.