Akintunde Oyebode: The graveyard of champions (YNaija Frontpage)

It does not matter what party you belong to or which “heavyweight” opposes your election; if you want to remain governor of your state for another four years, the easiest way is to make your current term count.

Anyone who watches the annual events at the All England Club must be familiar with the inspiration for this article. The old No. 2 Court was nicknamed the Graveyard of Champions for the number of champions that suffered ignominious exits on that court. The roll call is legendary: Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Venus & Serena Williams, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Martina Hingis; to mention a few. The biggest scalp of the court came in 2002 when the unheralded George Bastl upset seven-time champion Pete Sampras, in what turned out to be Sampras’ last match at SW 19.

In 2009, the All England Club demolished the graveyard in a bid to improve crowd circulation and security; and replaced it with a new No.3 court. When asked about the renovation, it was not surprising a certain Swiss tennis player seemed ecstatic, for obvious reasons.

The Nigerian political scene is slowly learning from that defunct tennis court. In 2011, there were signs of things falling apart in Lagos State. The incumbent governor, Babatunde Fashola had been brought from relative obscurity to replace his principal, Bola Tinubu, in 2007. He had served a full term and was up for reelection. The rumbles started when his principal (or godfather) decided his protégé had showed signs of disloyalty, and considered replacing him as the Action National Congress candidate at the elections. There are several versions of this story, but the conclusion was Bola Tinubu sheathed his sword, and Babatunde Fashola was reelected as the governor of Lagos State.

The conclusion was Fashola’s “performance” during his first term saved his skin, while the Tinubu loyalists remind us that BRF was only implementing an existing master plan. But most residents of Lagos could not be bothered with that; they saw a governor that improved their lot, showed passion for development, and was blessed with the gift of the garb. The actual election was less competitive than the intra-party rivalry within the ACN. By the time the televised debates were completed, it was obvious the other candidates were only performing the rites of passage for his coronation.

The events of last weekend bore an eerie similarity to the Lagos elections. For three decades Tony Annenih has been known as “Mr Fix It” in Nigerian political circles. It is an undeserved accolade for a man who has never won an election, but is seen as an expert at covert operations that determine the winner of state and federal elections. From 1983, when he “masterminded’ the election of Samuel Ogbemudia as the Bendel State governor, he has been a permanent factor in the Nigeria political terrain.

Usually, when a man of Annenih’s stature tells you to look for a new job, you must update your CV; unless you are Adams Oshiomole. To be clear, Governor Oshiomole’s first term in office was modest; but compared to eight years of Lucky Igbinedion, he has looked messianic. When added to his willingness to meet the people, and the passion in his voice, he is electable any day. At the end of the day, the result did not surprise anyone, and I suspect even Annenih and his loyalists expected to be trounced. But trouncing them was not enough; Oshiomole annihilated them at the polls. He won over 70% of the votes cast, and all the local governments in the state.

These are merely two examples of a trend that is here to stay; for incumbent public officials, the biggest insurance policy against electoral manipulations is good governance. Olusegun Mimiko will be re-elected in Ondo State as a reward for a stellar first term in office; even his fiercest critics know this. It is still a long time from 2015 when most of the gubernatorial elections will happen, but the writing is clearly on the wall. It does not matter what party you belong to or which “heavyweight” opposes your election; if you want to remain governor of your state for another four years, the easiest way is to make your current term count.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (2)

  1. This is the straight Akintunde Oyebode: The graveyard of champions (YNaija Frontpage) | YNaija diary for anyone who wants to act out out near this issue. You mark so much its virtually wearing to reason with you (not that I truly would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new twist on a theme thats been inscribed most for age. Respectable meaninglessness, only high!

  2. Well written again Akin!

    Thumbs up Sir.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail