A critical discourse of Nigeria political criminalities and godfatherism. A case study of the film "King of Boys" by Kemi Adetiba

Academic Paper, 2020

54 Pages

Free online reading


Democracy is the Government of the people by the people and for the people, the total way of people exhibiting their choice of leaders through their votes, this fact has been conditioned to different sociological, anthropological and ethnographical studies because of various influencing factor which majorly involves fake news, fake promises by politicians, nepotism corruption, political killings, political god fatherism and vote buying. In this discourse, Nollywood, a brand name for Nigerian film industry, has been engaging material and immaterial attitude changes among Nigeria Politicians through their works of arts in critical discourses. A critical study of Kemi Adetibas’s ‘The king of boys’ (Film) reveals it as one of the Nollywood films which is involved in political discourse of the current situation of our country. The reading of the film shows its contribution to NPR (Nigerian Political Restructuring.) with the engagement of various political crimes as part of the film’s plot. God fatherism is demonstrated by Akin Lewis (As Aree Akinwande) and Sola Sobowale as the sponsor of a successful election’s won by the Political Parties with promises of appointing her of a Ministerial appointment. The refusal of the Party Chairman Aree Akinwande and the government in question resulted in to display of anger by Sola Sobowale who challenged the Party Leader Aree Akinwande’s reactions, on the other hand, the fight for power between Sola Sobowale and one of his boys with the name (Akorede/ Sarafu) acted by Remines exposed Sola Sobowale to more danger. She (Sola Sobowale) was invited by Nigerian Corruption Crime Commission for her defence on various allegation petition against her, the officer incharge of the case (Gobe Ekun) is so dedicated to his job that He rejected the sum of 500,000 from someone who pretend to be Alihaja Salami (Sola Sobowale) this lead to the arrest of Alihaja Salami Sola Sobowale and also put her at the risk of becoming the victim of political criminality indicate that the act (Political killings and ingratitude) is known to African most especially Nigeria cultural. With the above, it is clear that Nollywood has been active in the representation of significant issues such as political criminality and politics indecency in the contemporary Nigerian society.

Keywords: NPR, Kemi Adetibas’s ‘The King of Boys’, Nollywood studies

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Movie poster The ‘King of Boys’ (Source: online)

(Isaac Oluwaseun Odebunmi 2020) Since its production, Kemi Adetiba’s ‘The King of Boys’ has exhibited an example of open text (a text with possible multiple interpretations). This is to say that the film text breaks itself from tyranny of interpretation. As an open text, the film has been subjected to different criticism from the perspectives of language, culture, politics, political criminalities, film techniques, history and anthropology. Though these previous studies see the film from different ideological perspectives, they do not fail to underline the fact that the text is a unified whole in the cultural anthropology of Nigeria’s political history. Nigeria politics experience various changes most especially since the advent of Democracy in 1999.

The swearing in of President Olusegun Aremu Okiki Ola Obasanjo in the year 1999 as Democratic President as open so many people see’s Nigerian’s politics as a money making venture, since then the political arena has been surrounded by various type of crime and atrocity’s such as financial crimes, manipulation of election results, election box snatching /hijacking, political killing and so on. This research work it’s based on Kemi Adetiba’s work of art which in her own maximum capacity examine the major political crime in Nigeria Political arena and also preach change and sanitation of the Political institutions although my research will be limited to issues from the film.

Kemi Adetiba’s ‘The King of Boys’ generated a lot of appraiser from the public in Nigeria, London, America and other counties; the storyline was from the perspective of political history and sociology of Nigeria at present. In this argument, so many appraiser’s and critics traces the problem of Nigeria to the Long period of Military Ruling before returning the country back to democratically elected president in 1999, without specific provision for clear credibility of people to be in control of the country and the effective machinery to put for the election process.

I argues further that the contemporary political tension and unrest that the country witnesses sustain the view that all elections in the country were not purposeful to elect a credible political office holder to secure the country from the corruption and corrupt leaders as evident in the plot and characterisation of the film.

Azeez Sesan (2020) Mis-en-scene and Authenticity in Kemi Adetiba’s 'The King of Boys’ evaluates the technical intricacies involved in the making of the film and how these have contributed to the film’s plot, development and advancement. The critic argues that Kemi Adetiba carefully deploys props, costumes and decors in the making of the film text of the King of Boys. He argues further that aesthetics and ideology of the films are properly projected through the interplay of the drama and technical components.

Damola Olatunji; an actor, screen Director and Producer (2020) in an Interview critiques how characterisation, setting, location, décor, language and other film gestalts contribute to the historical and sociological reading of the film. He explained the characterisation, language and props of the film with the inestimable concept of signification (signifier and signified).

He concludes that reading the film with signification helps to situate the entire narration within specific socio-historical context.

Kemi Adetiba’s 'The King of Boys’ Contentious Political Space have similar orientation, to some degree, with this paper. The difference between this paper and the previous mentioned above is that the present paper situates the context of the film within African mot especially Nigeria political criminality norms and practices. The concern of this paper, therefore, is to closely read the film within African conception of Political Crime’s and atrocities of Nigeria politicians and how has this contributed to make or mar the characters of innocent and trust worthy law enforcement agencies and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission in Nigeria constantly faced with blackmails and bribe temptation by Nigeria politicians with and Nuru Gobe Ekun the I.P.O of Alihaja Salami’s Case one will notice that investigation should not be one it should also be put into consideration the role and the intent of the complainant in the reported crime. Besides, the paper closely interrogates the nature of financial crime in a successful election in the political parties in Nigeria; and in the film in relation to African norms and values most especially Nigeria.

Political Financial Crime: Conceptual Clarification

Though Political Crime; simply means Crimes Committed for the sake of political gain, the concept needs further exploration owing to the form and nature of this queer practice. Scholars (Oxford Dictionary and E.F.C.C Crime Watch, 2020; I.C.P.C, Act 2004; I.C.P.C, 2011 and E.F.C.C, 2002), at different points in time, have identified meaning of Financial Crime. For instance, E.F.C.C (2011:245) avers:

The most basic definition of Financial Crime is various financial crimes committed by defrauding, swindling, miss appropriation and diversion of public funds to private pocket thus, a Financial Crime may be considered a crime which deals with Finance or money.

Similarly, Femi Falana and Barrister Jegede (2002:247) are of the view that:

Financial Crime behaviour is a crime which involve defrauding people of their money or fund meant for different purpose. Financial Crime’s Criminals are individuals who prefer to engage in such Crime activity.

The two definitions of Financial Crime simply the same meaning for the concept. The definitions, however, do not consider some sociological, anatomical and definite variants of the concept.

Some scholars, such as Late Gani Faweyin and SAN. Femi Fanala (1999), attempt to clarify the air on the conceptualisation of corruption and political Crimes in relation to democratic governance.

In Democratic Governance Corruption and Political Criminality studies, the conception is that Political Crimes are antonymous to crimes. To this end, Political Crime is seen as norm in some political socio-cultural contexts such in Africa most especially in Nigeria politics. In their argument, however, Professor Wole Soyinka and SAN Femi Falana are of the view that researchers and scholars hurriedly conclude that Political Criminalities is absurd and antithetical to socio-cultural norms. It is owing to this hurried conclusion that the concept of Political Criminalities has been subjected to raging discourses among scholars and researchers. In their argument, SAN. Femi Fanala opine that:

By defining Corruption and political criminalities are the norm, there also has been the tendency to view persons as either corrupt or not as a politician or individual. This not only poses the danger of ignoring the great range and heterogeneity of politicians alone (and corrupt public officer, for that matter), but in turn creates an erroneous stereotype of “the political criminality”. Certainly it highlights the persistent problem of the definition of political criminality and good governance that has confused much research. (4)

SAN. Femi Falanan’s position underline a critical point that scholars and researchers should be conscious of how they ethically perceive and treat political corruption cases owing to socio-cultural peculiarities. This view, therefore, offers a detour to the discourse on Governance, Politics and corruption in Nigeria.

Governance, Politics and corruption in Nigeria.

African culture and esteem frowns at stealing, lie, betrayer and killing. It is in the light of this that this paper critiques the treatment of Political Corruption and mis-use of power in Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boyz. The first of the reasons is to evaluate the contribution of the politics to the development of the entire plot of the film. Secondly, the paper assesses the cultural evaluation of the concept of criminality in the political arena of Nigeria.

Consciousness on corruption differs from culture to culture in Nigeria. In almost all government and non-governmental institutions at all level both Local Government, State Government and even the Federal Government, corruption is not strange as it’s been seen as what the government deals with everyday with several effort of eradicating it in the previous government. In the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, on the other hand, there is a little limitation to such. The principle agenda of this administration frowns more at corruption under any guise. The difference in this perception and reception of corruption, therefore, deviates from the proposition of President Buhari Change mantra. This opinion is offered here because cultural and moral limitations to extravagant human need and want on some contexts may amount to violation of some human rights which is against the creed of cultural universalism. In contrast, cultural limitations to criminality underline the significance of relativism in the description of people’s culture. In this line of thought, Sesan (2018:454) is of the view that:

The discrepancies observed in cultural practice across the globe inform the position of cultural relativist that peculiarity of a culture marks it out of the other. For this reason, there is no homogeneous and uniform standard to evaluate cultural norms and values. To the relativists, each culture of the world should be evaluated on its own merits without any extraneous biases and prejudices.

Similarly, Danial (2013:2) avers that:

Cultural relativism gives each culture the liberty to practise what is native and relevant to that society without the imperialist imposition from another culture that holds a different set of beliefs and/or norms.

Cultural relativism, therefore, differentiates one culture from another and since political crimes has cultural perception and reception, it should be detached from overgeneralisation.

Kemi Adetiba’s treatment of [Political] criminality in 'the king of boyz’ aligns with the tenets of cultural relativism and this contributes to the development of the film’s plot. The inclusion of how Political crimes are been perpetrated with the help of Law enforcement agents or agency in the film precipitates other forms of crimes - killing of Adekemi Salami the vibrant daughter of Alihaja Eniola Salami in court premises without arrest of the culprit and attempted murder of Alihaja Eniola Salami in Prison clearly explain the Nigeria attitude to political killing in Nigeria most especially in the case of the killing of Uncle Bola Ige of the then A.D Political Party. The inference from this is the Politician behaviour of Party Chairman ‘Akin Lewis (Aree Akinwande) which has psychological and sociological impacts on the collective consciousness of the Alihaja Eniola Salami and her son. This is so because the murder of Adekemi in the court premises while addressing the press was so tragic and unbelievable that such killing could be carried out in the premises of a court of Law.

Alihaja Eniola Salami fail to foresee the doom which is to befall her after the Governorship election when she use all her power to win the election for her party. She think that for all of her efforts in enthroning her political party’s candidates in elected government positions; expects to be compensated with a top appointment at national level as a minister.

Her birthday party gathering is also a show of power, her declaration of intent. Not to mention an image laundering activity as Alihaja Eniola Salami attempts to reinvent herself as a successful business woman with friends in high places. Mogul by day, mob boss by night. Alihaja Eniola Salami offers all she has even political killings to make sure her Political candidates flag bearer emerge as the elected candidate at all state even at the Federal level; not too long after the political party she sponsored reneged on their promises to make her a minister she was shaken by this betrayal, her nonchalantly answers to responses against the promises of the party and the continuous ignoring of her phone calls prompted her anger to visit the party chairman who makes fake promises of finding a lasting solution. One of her underlings (Makanaki) calls to inform her of a mission and this orchestrates a string of events that leads to her “downfall” including a plot to overthrow her, murder of her daughter Adekemi (Adesua Etomi-Wellington) and a witch-hunting despite all her efforts both criminal and legitimate. The post-election promise does not quite materialize and the Salami Empire is shaken to the core, as Eniola finds herself fighting not just for her political future, but also for the survival of everything she holds dear. While her attention is divided, a disgruntled underling, Makanaki/ Akorede- (rapper Reminisce, debuting with an explosive screen presence) - spots a chance to execute a coup. He kick starts a rivalry that must end in a bloody gang war.

Critical study of the king of boyz really expose the theme of power, greed, vengeance, feminism also how corruption pretty much sums things up in Nigeria . Corruption in high and low places, in business, in politics, society. Educational institutions and in personal relationships. King of Boys is ultimately a character study on chronic and insidious corruption. The film details via the arc of the protagonist, the ways that innocence is lost and observes how evil begins to seep into people’s lives, acting in a positive feedback mechanism to foul up everything it comes in contact with.

Alihaja Eniola Salami fails to read the handwriting on the wall, perhaps, of the gender disapproval of Alihaja Eniola Salami becoming the prefer candidate for Ministerial appointment at National Level of the Political Party. Reminisce in particular who acted the role of Makanaki shows how greedy politicians are with his act of trying to over thrown the King of Boyz in person of Alihaja Eniola Salami, Despite all pleadings from the members of the gang he still executed almost successful coup.

Makalaki character in the film is presented as a very brilliant criminal.

Makalaki brilliance actions in planning and executing the coup, He was eventually killed by his boyz on the order of Alihaja Eniola Salami; this paper aligns its thought with Bisi Odebunmi’s (2020:17) on Eniola Salami motivation of her investment on politics and reward. Bisi Odebunmi considers moral and societal implications of Eniola’s interests in investing in Politics. In his argument, he avers that:

If Alihaja Eniola Salami has taken Politics, as a good investment where she can be rewarded with juice position of ministerial appointment at the Federal level but the party chiefs denied her of this because of suspected shady characters, the party believed she is involved in various criminal atrocities going on in the city of Lagos. This would have open the city to unnecessary crimes, and corruption. Political Criminality seems to have its psychological rationalisation within the Theology of celibacy. Truth be told, with the possibility of an unwanted scandal, Alihaja Eniola Salami is not the best option for any reasonable Government as a Minister within the reality of the existential vow of Good Governance .

The Governance of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is in the public perception of how the Government is devoted to her citizen: not in the acceptance of Power at all cost and then rejects their responsibilities to the people of Nigeria.

Odebunmi’s argument intones that Political Crimes and corruption has no religious morality attached to it. In fact, it has been rumoured all political office holders engage in various political crimes in one way or the other most especially financial crime.

While being interrogated by Inspector Gobir acted by (Paul Sambo), Alihaja Eniola Salami relives how she spent all her savings on elections to ensure her party win’s elections at both the National, State and Local Level.

The following excerpt reveals thus:

The First Interrogations at the office of Nigerian Corruption Crime Commission (N.C.C.C) Alihaja Salami, Kemi Salami and Inspector Nurudeen Gobir (I.P.O)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

From the excerpt, it can be said that Alihaja Eniola Salami and her daughter Feyikemi Salami find themselves in psychological limbo of the Nigerian Corruption Crime Commission (N.C.C.C); interrogation conducted by Nurudeen Gobir acted by (Paul Sambo). Both of them, however, react differently - Kemi Salami defended her mother and successfully transfer the blame of not given enough notice by the commission for them to provide necessary document as backup for their defence against the petitions or allegations’. She was bold enough to question the mistakes of the commission on various issues such as the freedom of privacy and wanting to know the author of the petition, unlike her daughter; Alihaja Salami was so remorseful, weak, calm and respective; answering Inspector Nurudeen Gobir’s question without caution (Isaac Odebunmi, 2019: 12-16).

All in all, Political Corruption and greed advances the conflicts and tensions in The King of Boiz. Through the technique of flashback in the narration of king of Boiz, exposed the audience to a clearer vision of what could have been the reason why Alihaja Eniola Salami as a woman became the king of Boyz. The story of Salami himself acted by (JIDE KOSOKO) who’s position was inherited by Alihaja Eniola Salami was shortly narrated; one may find it difficult to quickly links the story with Alihaja Eniola Salami but with a careful look into the scene one will notice that the death of Jide Kosoko as Salami, who is in to drug trafficking kingpin, and the introduction of Eniola his then girlfriend into the business; also the marriage between him and Eniola on his sickbed before his death automatically earn Alihaja Eniola Salami as the legitimate head of the group.

Inspector Nurudeen Gobir, the head of the Investigation Department of Nigerian Corruption Crime Commission, was known for professionalism not interested in personalities but dedicated to doing his job perfectly and in line with the code of conduct guiding the profession. He finds corruption disturbing and strange because of his religion and cultural orientation. In Northern part of Nigeria when someone is caught been corrupt the sharia law provides a stiff penalty for such person such as death, or cutting of the two hands etc.

The allegation of corruption against Alihaja Eniola Salami is seen by Inspector Gobir as moral issue in contention He want to be sure If Alihaja Eniola Salami wealth is clean or not. This simply means that Alihaja Eniola Salami has not been proven guilty of committing the crime’s stated in the petition most especially money laundering. With this action, if Alihaja Eniola Salami is found guilty she will be prosecuted and jail. He is of the opinion that Alihaja Eniola Salami may be guilty of some allegation; but without substantial prove he may not be able to investigate her further has she has various company as back her up for her wealth but to him the proceed from such companies is not enough to justify the volume of wealth before him to investigate.

Through his action, Inspector Nurudeen Gobir demonstrates his personality - a personality which have clear understanding of how corrupt minded person fake evidence even before interrogation. He finds it so difficult to give his final response to Kemi Salami resolution ‘Unless you can tie us to this building, I find this call for questioning as disrespective and completely out of order. This paper argues further that Kemi Adetiba make any case for Political Corruption in Africa nay Nigeria. Even the characterisation of Aree Akinwande does uphold acceptance of how deceptive Nigeria politicians are even to financial and faithful’s of their political parties.

Owing to political criminalities exposure, Aree Akinwande is psychologically displaced - he is the party elder and later show case as the king which explain that he is the king maker; with his fraudulent political lies to Alihaja Eniola Salami. Aree Akinwande act of manipulating Alihaja Eniola Salami to accept the decision of the elders implies that he is not comfortable with Alihaja Eniola Salami becoming a Minister or been offer any public office; just to keep her in place for what the party wants her to do which she was subjected to during the electioneering campaign. A clear display of Alihaja Eniola anger and displease was perhaps to register her displeasure with the political party and Aree Akinwande himself which expose to which-hunting and hatred, this paper would have hurriedly concluded that he intentionally betrayed Alihaja Eniola Salami for selfish reason. Since this is not the issue, this paper is of the view that Alihaja Eniola Salami suffers from double consciousness of her personality as a good business mogul by day and mob boss of criminals at night. In this line of thought of Alihaja Eniola Salami double consciousness, Dubois’ (1997:38) explanation of the concept easily comes to mind that:

It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls two thoughts two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

(Emphasis by the present researcher)

Eniola Salami’s characterisation in the film text demonstrates an instance of two souls inside one body. In the reading of this paper, Eniola Salami is a victim of circumstances that produce her has the king of Boiz. Her nativity and the experience of her father always beating her mother; sometimes up till point of death before she ran away only to find herself in Lagos another world; struggling for survival keeps disturbing her in her new acquired new life. With the subjection to criminality in brothel and drug merchants and trafficker, Alihaja Eniola Salami sees herself fit to cope with the challenges that his new experience has imposed on her.

Isaac Oluwaseun Odebunmi also explains some underlined issue in the differences of corruption and financial recklessness among Nigeria politicians. For clarity on the issue of political corruption and its relevance to this paper, Isaac Oluwaseun Odebunmi (2020:12) description of the concept is given below:

Political corruption, Odebunmi meant the permeation throughout society of an entire system of values, attitudes, beliefs, and morality that has the effect of supporting the status quo in power relations.

Political office holder in Nigeria in this sense might be defined as people who are voted into office by people to govern them; that is diffused by the process of socialisation into every area of daily life. To the extent that this prevailing consciousness internalised by the population it becomes part of what is generally called ‘common sense’ so that the philosophy, culture, and morality of the ruling elite comes to appear as the neutral order of things most especially in various kind of corrupt politicians in Nigeria.

Odebunmi analysis of corrupt politician’s underlines the principles of power relations between the centre and the margin. In the sense of the film, Lagos is the centre while Nigeria is the margin. The centre in the film uses different ideological constructions to sustain the status quo and among these politician such as using Governor Rasaki Onikoyi as the governor of Lagos State.

Makanaki/ Akorede (Reminisce) and Odogun represent the high degree of how politicians do make use of Nigerian youths for their atrocity during the political period for their selfish gain. It is instructive to state that Makanaki/ Akorede took the dimensions of exploration of coup to overthrown Alihaja Eniola Salami (The King). When Alihaja Eniola Salami was remanded in cell for an attempt to bribe the officer of N.C.C.C (INSPECTOR NURUDEEN GOBIR), Makanaki visited Alihaja Eniola Salami with a promise to kill her that same night; He Makanaki set the cell ablaze only for revelation from Gobe’s boss (Inspector Shehu acted by Sani Mu’Azu) save Alihaja Eniola Salami’s life as ‘Gobe’ rushed to the cell and find the cell covered with fire. This brings us to critical ideology that Nigeria is filed with high degree of corruption which needed to be clean off. It’s of surprise that the superior officer to ‘GOBIR’ is a corrupt man who has connections with dirty politicians and criminals; beyond imaginations He has put in place mechanisms to implant accidental assassination of Alihaja Eniola Salami.

What the above analysis suggests is that corruption and corrupt politicians is a great problem to Nigeria. One can, therefore, say that Kemi Adetiba upholds the view that Corruption and corrupt politicians in Nigerian put good governance and direct proceeds of democracy to the people at jeopardy as the case may be.

What Kemi Adetiba presents in the film text of the king of boiz resurfaces in the present government of the presidency of President Muhammad Buhari. His Government adopted coercion and persuasion to achieve their goals most especially in the removal of Ibrahim Magu the Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practice on allegation of corruption. One of the conditions stated then was that the major agenda of Mr President fighting corruption at all level. As good practice and action to redeem the image of the country Nigerian, the re-introduction and rededication of corruption free Nation was met with stiff resistance from many Nigerian big politicians just like the remark of Aree Akinwande when the whistle blowing of corrupt practices was reported in the News during the visit of Kemi and Alihaja Eniola Salami.

‘Imagine the rubbish! Imagine this rubbish.

They are encouraging criminals to harass us and to blackmail us.

Is this the reason why we put him there?

We appointed him as president

It is corruption today, corruption tomorrow

Corruption, corruption everywhere.

Is that what we going to be chopping?

Ehn! What is all that? ’

Nigeria’s vehemently support of anti- corruption of President Muhammad Buhari and the change agenda on Nigeria and its population. As a reactionary step supporting the change agenda the National Assembly passed bill and was signed into law on whistle blowing.

Nigeria’s quick reaction to the implantation of whistle blowing policy in the country and the reveals the high level of financial recklessness as billions of Naira and millions of dollars were found at various places in Nigeria. The thesis of the film, therefore, is that corruption is not limited to politicians alone but every sectors in the country; the ideal corrupt free practice for everyone as seen in the characters of Inspector Nurudeen Gobir despite the fact that he need money to take care of his sick wife in the hospital who finally die .

As said earlier, the case of Political Corruption in the film causes other crimes in the film. One of the crimes is the robbery, kidnaping. This criminal activity calls for serious attention and interrogation of the N.C.C.C Nigeria Corruption Crime Commission under the supervision of Inspector Nurudeen Gobir. The investigation takes critical efforts of Gobir who unearth the identity of his boss and superior Inspector Shehu as the one who called to bribe him and implicated Alihaja Eniola Salami as a killer and the motivator of the crime. He is bitter about the whole development.

The following excerpt from the film reveals thus:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Inspector Gobir and inspector Shehu conversations show high level of corruption at top management level; it also reveals the effective and well planned atrocity to implicate Alihaja Eniola Salami just because she demanded for what was promised her by the political party. He Inspector Shehu wants to hide secret of his escapades. But Inspector Gobir already have the proves and He Inspector Shehu knows the implication of this revelation - he knows that there will be severe punishment if the secret is revealed, on this note Inspector Shehu shoot himself in head. Alihaja Eniola Salami was saved and the film ended on the note of the gang member killing Makalaki and Alihaja Eniola Salami becoming the king of boiz again even outside the country.

At this point we must notice the message Kemi Adetiba was trying to deal with even in Nigerian political circle and that is Godfatherism a close look at the Character of Akin Lewis (Aree Akinwande) I will like to make a flashback into the reality of our past as Nigerians even to the time past of Chief Obafemi Awolowo ’According to Dare Ojo, Omonijo, ajulu Anthony Ugochukwu, Nnedum, Olumuyiwa Akinrole, Oludayo Michael, Chibuzor, Anyaegbunam; Several articles have emerged on the menace of political godfatherism in Nigeria as portray in the work of Kemi Adetiba’s King of boiz (Albert, 2005; Obaji, 2006; Gambo, 2006; Adeoye 2009; Haruna and Jumba 2011; Majekodunmi and Awosika, 2013), each scholar tries to define the term according to his point of reasoning, theoretical extraction etc. For the purpose of this article, the following few perspectives shall be explored. According to Mbamara, (2004), godfatherism is the invasion of the political candidate by discarnate powerful sponsor, tending to complete possession for the purpose of selfish gratification. Going by this author, it is a political slave trade or political sponsorship based on political manipulation with several evil agenda. In the context of this discussion, however, the godfather is the political slave merchant while the godson or goddaughter is the political slave or slave boy or political article for sale. The godson or god daughter is purchased with a big sum of money under a demonic oath. The aims and objectives of this deal include access to appointments, stealing of government money, robbery and looting of government treasury. The decisionmaking appointments and contract award is usually manipulated by the godfather. It is like drug abuse (Mbamara, 2004). The view presented above by Mbamara, (2004) captures the reality of the menace of the political godfatherism in Nigeria. It specifically describes the scenario in Anambra State during Dr Mbadinuju’s regime but other factors that characterized the challenge of godfathers as evident in states like Oyo State are conspicuously omitted. These include violence and bribery. Thus Ayoade (2006:83) cited by Omonijo et al., (2013) posits: The godfather is not in the business of philanthropy...The godfather gives support to install the godson oftentimes by devious antidemocratic means. They are merchants of fear. They dispense violence freely and fully on those who stand in their way. In this they play the additional role of Warlord.

They establish, train and maintain a standing personal “army” which they ostensibly supplement with a sprinkling of the official police detachment. In order to effect electoral change, they bribe election officials to deliver the winning election figures. They also bribe the police and other security agents to look the other way when they traffic in ballot boxes and sack opponents strongholds. The godson, having taken office, returns the gesture hundredfold to the point that the godfather becomes an “intractable parasite” on government. The initial support given by the godfather then becomes an investment with a colossal rate of returns because the godfather becomes the „de facto governor, which goes to explain the sociological theory of reciprocity which Oloko, (2008) associates with the escalation of corruption in Nigeria. Scholars above presented the negative side of godfatherism and of course its application in Nigeria today. In other words, it could be suggested that these authors present their views based on the Nigerian experience. Reviewing in the past, it is evident the concept is not a terrible one, it is as an institution of political king making through which certain political office holders of tenuous political clout come into power; Kolawole(2004) cited in Majekodunmi and Awosika, 2013). Therefore, godfatherism is a topic of interest not only in sociology, politics and in religious institutions (Familusi, 2012), but in all areas of life.

A clear picture of biblical version of godfatherism is seen in the life of Moses; Joshua Kolawole (2004), cited by Majekodunmi and Awosika, (2013). Through a divine instruction, a minister of Moses-Joshua emerged the leader of Israel after a long-year of political training and mentorship. The same situation repeated itself in the life of Elijah and Elisha (2King 2: 1-14). In the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria, the same scenario led to the emergence of Pastor E. Adeboye and the General overseer of the Church after a few years of training and mentorship under Paa. Akindayomi, the founder of the church. Therefore, every notable leader, in all spheres of life, in all ages, considers succession an issue of priority, out of which continuation of his legacies and the long term programmes of development of the organization he represents may not transcend his generation. However, Nigerian elites, either in the military or in politics, being 'a class in itself’, (Wright 2006; Borland, 2008) have succeeded in manipulating the concept of godfatherism to their advantage and to the detriment of the nation with impunity. They are having their ways because the country has become a safe haven for evil. Criminal activities spread like harmattan fire in high and in low places. Given this, Ojih, (2001) submitted that from one institution to another, from one sector of the national activities to another, from one community to another, from one generation to another, this pathetic phenomenon is observed: all things bright and beautiful, wise and wonderful, all creatures, great and small; Nigerians destroy them all. Similarly, Ejiofor, (1987) remarked, an average Nigerian is corrupt, dishonest, nepotic, lazy and tribalistic. In line with these scholars, many Nigerians have applied their corrupt nature, evil attitude and terrible belief systems and more dangerously ‘not my father’s business syndrome’ Omonijo, Uche, Rotimi and Nwadiolor, (2014) to politics, resulting in the menace of godfatherism, leading to poor leadership with attendant effects on development. Previous studies have shown that good leadership is very essential in the process of development in any nation. In the light of this, Omonijoet al., (2011) compare leadership with a motor engine that drives human beings to their respective destinations and remark “leadership is more or less like an engine that propels man’s society to either advancement or backwardness”. Therefore, a nation with good leadership could develop in all spheres of life while the development of a country with poor leadership could be retarded. Although it has been argued that natural endowments contribute significantly to development, as evident in the United Arab Emirates (Rizvi, 1993; Barma, Kaiser, Minh and Vinuelaet al., 2012) but this could only be possible if these endowments are consciously harnessed and prudently managed. If otherwise, the exploitation of natural resources could propel nations into poverty, instability and chaos (economic and otherwise). It is on the basis of the foregoing that Miguel Urrutia of the United Nations University wrote in 1987: It is now obvious to many economists that since World War II the developing countries that have achieved the highest economic growth rates are those that are apparently not richly endowed with natural resources. Japan is classified among such nations. With the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945, most people would conclude that advancement of Japan within a century would not be impossible, but in less than 50 years, Japan emerged a world power. The rapid development of Japan is largely attributed to her effective and powerful leadership that is lacking in many countries in Africa, in contemporary times. . On the other hand, paradoxically, resource rich countries as diverse as Ghana and Argentina achieved very low growth rates, and a country like Mexico and Nigeria had a much worse economic performance after becoming a major oil producer (Urrutia, 1987).lt is an irony of life that Nigeria, the 6th largest producer of oil in the world has no functional refinery. It is indeed an insult to knowledge to realize that Nigerian elites import petroleum products for home consumption at higher prices, which goes to confirm Hagen, (1962) who takes political approach and searches for individuals who take leadership positions in innovation of underdeveloped countries and argues that authoritarianism and non-innovating personalities are both the characteristics of Third World countries, and these factors cause stagnation in their development.

Quite unfortunate, this view seems to be more relevant in contemporary Nigeria than in early 60s. It is on this ground that this article is conceived. Kemi Adetiba’s work ‘The King of boiz explores the poor leadership of Nigeria as orchestrated by the elite class through god fatherism to explain her underdevelopment and high level of corruption and political atrocities.

Examination of Research on Historical Development of Godfatherism in Nigerian Politics.

Reviewing in the past, it is evident in literature that Godfatherism is not a recent phenomenon in Nigerian politics (Ishaku and Jatau, 2014). It was a strong political instrument employed by the Nigerian notable nationalists, mostly late Chief Obafemi Awolowo to dis-engage the colonialists from governance in October 1, 1960. Specifically in 1953, late Chief Anthony Enahoro, the godson of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo moved the motion for the nation’s independence.

Babalola and Shobiye, (2010); the motion was a thunderbolt that rocked the then Federal House of Representatives in Lagos and later sent the colonialists parking from the political terrains of Nigeria. At that point in time, there were credible, visionary and focused leaders, heavily backed up by committed followers. Godsons who believed in the legacies of their godfathers and the advancement of Nigeria pervaded the political arena. Therefore, the falcon could hear the falconer. However, this study makes special reference to the political godfatherism of Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and its impacts on development projects in the then Western region. The infrastructural development of the Southwest under his political watch, Olaopara (2015) was a testimonial to his capacity in using politics as a tool for bettering the lives of the masses. Laudable development projects, first in Africa, were initiated and accomplished under his leadership. These include Cocoa house, Liberty Stadium, Free Universal Primary Education and health, Western Nigeria Television station etc (Awe, 2007). Although politics in the first republic was not void of rancour and bitterness, the politics of “wild wild west and operation wetie” was still fresh in our memories and the problem of godson revolting against his godfather was evident Osuntokun, (2015) but it was at the elementary stage. The stained relationship between the godfather and godson was not as a result of sharing the state resources to the detriment of the masses. It was basically a leadership problem. Godfathers at that point in time, never sustained a reputation for deploying their wealth to secure party nomination for candidates of their choice, sponsor their elections including manipulating the electoral process for their selfish interests (John 2006). Also, godsons were never used as surrogates to promote personal interest but the developmental aspiration of the people and they were not driven by any sense of enrichment Gambo, (2006) cited in Familusi, (2012). The style of political godfatherism in the first republic was extended to the second republic. Therefore, godsons of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo were able to win Ondo State, Oyo State, Ogun State, and Lagos State in the gubernatorial election while many others won nearly all the seats in federal house of representative. That was when Chief Lateef Jakande (baba kekere-small Awo), Chief Adekunle-Ajasin, Chief Akin Omoboriowo (the author of Awonism), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, (ebino), late Chief Bola Ige (‘the Cicero’ of Esa-Oke) etc were ardent followers of the late sage and they succeeded in implementing his policies in their respective states for the betterment of common man.

The masses in the Southwest used to vote en mass for any candidate in Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s party. The menace of distributing money and other materials to people in soliciting votes was not in vogue. Election of people to political office largely depended on candidate’s and party’s popularity with the masses and manifestos. Politics took a new and terrible turn during the military dictatorship of Ibrahim Babangida. The self-acclaimed genius; devastated the political class, and institutionalized corruption. Settlement syndrome became part and parse of politics. The godson of Ibrahim Babangida (Sani Abacha) finally unleashed terror on credible politicians.

In an attempt to perpetuate himself in power, he assassinated credible Nigerian, who dear to challenge his reign of dictatorship and sent many, such as Professor Wole Soyinka, the first and the only pride of the black man Nobel laurel in literature, in the present age, to exile with a tag of death on his head. In a frantic endeavour to rescue Nigeria from Abacha and his cohorts grip, godsons of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and other meaningful Nigerians formed the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), a pro-democracy group under the leadership of late Chief Michael AdekunleAjasin and late Chief Anthony Enahoro.

Having brought military imperialism to a standstill, the elite class in the military in conjunction with Northern oligarch imposed Olusegun Obasanjo, who is not a credible and trustworthy politician on Nigerians as against the peoples will, Chief Olu-Falae, the former minister of defence and secretary to the federal government. In the regime of Obasanjo, most of the Awoists lost their credibility because they deviated from the populist ideas of the late sage (Chief Obafemi Awolowo). Therefore, they lost the control of power in the Southwest. Today, hardly can one find a credible politician in the Southwest Nigeria, previously known for probity, populist programmes etc. The rave of the moments are ‘jeliticians’, meaning, politicians who are out to mercilessly destroy the treasury of the state through looting. Since then, evil godfathers have been having a field day in political arena and the political atmosphere has become a deadly zone where money is been amass mercilessly.

Examination of Research on the Negative Impact of Godfatherism on political Leadership and Development.

The menace of political godfather in Nigeria as portray by Kemi Adetiba could be perceived as a political battle which the elite class has been wagging against democracy, the masses and the entire nation in order to fulfil their economic self-interests. In ensuring this evil desire, the reward systems are highly skewed in favour of the political class compare to salaries and allowances workers in other sectors of the economy. Nigerian politicians have turned democratic elections into ventures and battle fields where money, private armies and thugs are employed to create enabling environments that guarantee returns on investments and accelerated access to primitive accumulation of wealth (Agba, Achimugu, Chukwurah and Agboni, 2012). Elitism, as Welsh (1979:10) argues, is a system 'in which the exercise of political control by a small number of persons is institutionalized in the structure of government and political activity'. The structure in Nigeria today ensures a typical political godfather to manipulate state officials, institutions and resources to the detriment of the common man. Without manipulations, the godfathers will not be able to realize the money he spent in ensuring victory for the godson during the electioneering campaign. When the manipulation becomes too much, the godson often react and the end product of such reaction, more often than not is violent conflicts. Conflicts occur only when the godson refuses to be manipulated further. In other words, the contest for supremacy between godfathers and their godsons, leads to conflict, which result into destruction of private and government properties. In most cases lives of innocent people are terminated. According to Edigin, (2010) conflict arising from godfatherism has become one of the greatest problems facing the Nigerian political system. The holder of the political position becomes a stooge to his godfather because he that pays the piper also dictates the tune. Anytime the godson refuses to meet the godfather’s demand, he is eventually impeached from office. In the current political dispensation, several cases of such include Saraki-Lawal face off, Nwobodo-Nnamani quagmire, Adedibu-Ladoja crisis, Uba- Ngige saga etc (Okafor, 2006; Ojo, 2006; Obey, 2009). In other words, godfathers crises in Nigeria do not only portray great danger to our democratic experiments, but also on the very essence and validity of our existence as a nation (Edigin, 2010).It clearly undermines the process of development in an underdeveloped society like Nigeria. It is therefore a well-known fact that no meaningful development can be achieved in an atmosphere of wars of attrition, crisis and people who are perpetually and diametrically opposed to one another (Edigin, 2010). In the course of conflict between the godson and godfather, Nigeria has recorded unnecessary breakdown of law and order, which should have been avoided if the problem of godfatherism had not been instituted. Whenever the nation witnesses such breakdown of law and order, some hooligans usually exploit the opportunity to unleashed terror on citizens.

A cogent example is the outlawed Islamic sect Boko Haram, Niger Delta militants and some isolated cases like the “Yan Hisba” of Kano, “Yan sarasuka” of Bauchi and the Yan kalari of Gombe State (Vanguard, 2014). Given the above, Ikokwu and Epia, (2003) link the phenomenon of godfatherism in Nigerian politics with youth delinquency.

In the process of godfathers trying to settle political scores with their godsons, innocent youths are being used to perpetuate all kinds of evil. Thus, godfathers more often than not, recruit youths as foot soldiers and arm them with necessary logistics, which are also being used to perpetuate kidnapping, cultism, armed robbery, human trafficking, and drug abuse in many villages, towns and cities in Nigeria. The major implication is that such youths in Nigeria today find it very difficult to realize that godfathers are destroying their destinies. The high rate of poverty that is affecting the populace has prevented many youths from accessing higher education, while those who could afford higher education are confronted with the menace of unemployment. Such youths therefore, become vulnerable to political godfathers manipulations. Instead of trying to struggle and develop their potentials, they find solace in some coins which they receive from godfathers.

These youths also fail to realize that godfathers have their children abroad, schooling or working while they are risking their lives for them. Moreover, it is disheartening to realize that these youths could not observe that the money being siphoned from the state treasury by the godfathers is what the state should have used for their own education, health and employment. Youths are the young ones of today and leaders of tomorrow. When a large proportion of the youth in a country indulge this act, their future leadership roles could be jeopardized and the nation will continue to be in want of credible leaders and agents of rapid development. Apart from the above, the problem of godfatherism has resulted in outright exclusion of credible people from the decision making process. Many political office seekers are often robbed of their independent and rational sense of judgment. When the right choice is denied during elections, wrong persons assume leadership. Such persons are not materials for leadership. This usually results in maladministration and lack of accountability. This could be used to explain the scenario in the 2nd Republic, when Alhaji Shehu Sagari was imposed on Nigerians as the president and the nation was robbed of the wealth of leadership experience of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, an agent of development. In the same manner, Olusegun Obasanjo was imposed on Nigeria in the 4th Republic by his godfather (Ibrahim Babangida) and the better candidate, a technocrat- Chief Olu-Falae was rejected. Consequently, the rule of law, due process, and transparency in the management of public affairs has all been abused, because credible persons are edged out of governance. To make the matter worse, godfathers are being protected with the state resources while the poor masses are being exposed to all sorts of danger on a daily basis, why should the Nigerian government protects notorious godfathers more than the suffering masses? It is simply because the nation is developing in a wrong direction. In fact, it is obvious that the state does not value the life of any common man. And none of them has ever been sanctioned by the court of law, whereas armed robbers and petty thieves are being sentenced to death and life imprisonment by the nation’s judiciary. This must have prompted the notorious godfather of Anambra state politics (Chris Uba) to boast that I am the greatest of all godfathers in Nigeria Sunday Champion, (2003) as cited by Familusi (2012). According to Albert (2007), Uba for the first time, single-handedly put in position every politician in a state. This includes the state governor and his deputy, the 3 senators to represent the state at the National Assembly, 10 out of 11 members of the federal house of representative and 29 members of the state house of assembly. Because of the protection he enjoyed from the discredited Obasanjo’s administration, Ubaas reported by Albert, (2007) boasted of having the power to remove any of his political nominees who does not perform up to his own expectations anytime he likes. This could be regarded as an insult to democracy and development. Indeed, it gives a picture of a nation developing in a wrong direction as observed by (Omonijo et al., 2011)

This paper has closely discussed Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boiz in relation with how it handles the issues of Political Corruption/ criminality and godfatherism in Nigeria its implications for the democratization process and development of Nigeria. As exposed by Kemi Adetiba. The paper observes that the social problem of political godfatherism in contemporary Nigeria has reached an epidemic proportion. Therefore, it could be grouped with other terrible social vices, such as bribery and corruption, nepotism, smuggling, human trafficking etc, affecting the development. It is very disheartened to observe that godfatherism is gradually turning into an evil career, specially carved out by some elites, for ill-gotten wealth to the detriment of the nation.

The paper also identifies that the treatment of corrupt act of Politician in the film; contributes to the development of the plot of the film. In fact, the escaped of Alihaja Eniola Salami was revealed to the audience through the technique of flashback precipitates other crimes in the film. The victim of fake promise; by the political elders stiff penalty was inflicted on her by the so-called party elders. Despite the reaction, what is upheld in the film is that the actions show the true betrayer of Nigerians are politicians who had seen good fatherism and politics as a special means of livelihood for them to the detriment of the nation’s advancement. Therefore, this paper suggests love, patriotism, hard work, sacrifice, commitment, condemnation of evil and celebration of good, not only for the elite class, but also for the entire citizenry. Probably, these could halt the escalation of political godfatherism in order to enthrone true democracy that is needed for national unity and development.

This paper concludes that the elite class needs to saturate with attributes analysed by (Banfield, 1958; Rostow 1960; McClelland, 1962), which hinge on national unity and consciousness, development-oriented, public-spirit and patriotism. These are needed to galvanize available resources and generate the necessary sentiments for the progress and well-being of Nigerians.

The conclusion of the film shows that Nigeria still has a long journey to attain selfsufficiency in justice and eradication of corruption most especially in our political circle.


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A critical discourse of Nigeria political criminalities and godfatherism. A case study of the film "King of Boys" by Kemi Adetiba
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nigeria, king, boys, kemi, adetiba
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Isaac Oluwaseun Odebunmi (Author), 2020, A critical discourse of Nigeria political criminalities and godfatherism. A case study of the film "King of Boys" by Kemi Adetiba, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1000714


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