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The Power of the Incumbent



As you well know, The General Elections are taking place in the country and even as some voting has taken place and results have been announced, some of you will agree with me that it was not “really” a surprise that the incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, won the elections. And why am I bringing the controversial world of politics unto the webpages of BellaNaija? Just to illustrate a point; an analogy if you will.

Now it is almost a given that the incumbent office holder would win the vote if he or she is up for re-election. If the incumbent has not performed too badly, there is almost some sort of consensus that he or she should be allowed to complete his or her term, without much opposition. It is also assumed that it is more difficult to remove a sitting office holder, hence the consensus. For instance, President Obasanjo won a re-election in 2003 after completing his first term as duly recognised by the constitution. However, there have been cases where the people have effectively voted out the incumbent as a result of perceived poor performance. An example would be George Bush snr, who lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton in 1993. Coming home again, we can point out to the former speaker of the House, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, who surprisingly lost his seat at the NASS elections held a few weeks ago.

What am I trying to say here? If you bring this to the ever, exciting world of man-woman relationships you might be surprised to know that the power of incumbency plays an important role too. Guys for one know how hard it can be when they meet a woman they really like and have a connection with just to find out that she has a boyfriend. The decent ones probe a little and seeing that the woman is committed, decide to give up and let things be. Now this power of incumbency thing really depends on the level of commitment given by both parties in the relationship. If it is a strong one, the competition effectively backs off knowing that he or she doesn’t stand a chance. If it is tenuous, the competition attacks and does everything to win the man or woman from the incumbent. Just like the political scene: the candidates lobby for votes, promising heaven and earth, the people get persuaded or seduced and end up liking the candidate and decide to give him a chance. Upon getting his or her chance, the candidate may decide to go on a looting spree, and not deliver on his or her promises. Or maybe after a few years of development, and catering to the needs of the people, the candidate begins to neglect them; effectively leaving the people disgruntled and open to wooing and being snatched by another candidate in the next elections.

Truth is the incumbent boyfriend or girlfriend must be alive to his or her responsibilities; they shouldn’t just rest on their oars. Many men and a few women are guilty of this. Yours truly has been guilty of this too. Maybe it comes from a sense of overconfidence (well, that’s what happened in my case); where the man feels like he is the “man”, “nothing do me!” Maybe I felt that after so much courting, and convincing and finally getting the babe, that things were seemingly going well and I just slacked off a little bit…well, maybe more than a little bit. Believe me, the competition can smell an opening a mile away and they will swoop in and take over if you give them small chance…just ask Hon. Dimeji Bankole!

But I think that generally the incumbent does have the upper hand. He or she knows the other better, has spent a lot more time with them, and can even predict their behaviour. The incumbent is not some stranger that one does not know and trust; that one has to spend a lot of time getting to know; that might not deliver on his or her promises. I mean, why go with someone that may or not be an angel when you can continue with the devil you know? Even when a new candidate comes with a better offer, and promises some much needed change, it still remains quite difficult for the boy/girlfriend to let go of the incumbent for the new guy or girl. Why? Maybe it’s because it requires a lot of energy, work and effort to get to know someone new. I mean going through all the motions again can really be tiring and numbing. Case in point is the presidential elections, where change was the catchphrase of the election year but when it came down to it, it was so much easier to go with the incumbent.

So you see, political science does play a role in relationship science; or is it the other way round? Is your broom truly sweeping clean? Or do you require an umbrella that may or may not offer that much needed protection from the sun or rain? Whatever decision you make, only time will tell if you have made the right decision…four years isn’t such a long time, or is it?


  1. dewowo

    May 5, 2011 at 9:47 am

    incumbents to me are like the patient dogs who eats a lean bone.
    what will be will be jaare

  2. bonny

    May 5, 2011 at 10:09 am

    first yaayyyyyy


      May 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm



    May 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

    “Truth is the incumbent boyfriend or girlfriend must be alive to his or her responsibilities” Totally! Yipeeee! Am I first?!

    • Peperempe

      May 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm



      May 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm

      gotta run, will come back and read later. 😛


    May 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

    i agree….broke up with my boyfriend after silly fight and called up a former toaster…somehow i jus couldn’t help but compare him with my boyfriend while he was talking…even threw a few questions just to know what his mind was like…i just couldn’t help but miss my Boo….and yes!!! my boyfriend felt same…we soon reconciled and decided to workout our differences…incumbency does work!

  5. TAMA

    May 5, 2011 at 10:36 am

    very nice and intersting piece .
    my bobo needs to read this (winks)

  6. ty

    May 5, 2011 at 10:37 am

    nice write-up

  7. avril

    May 5, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Very True. How many guys have U seen break up with their gfs for another chic, even when they r ‘feeling’ d other chic. Same goes to girls to, except d rship comes to a natural or horrible end, U hardly find folks leaving their current partners. They would rather cheat or walk away.
    The same way a married man who is in a disastrous marriage will promise marriage to a girl, and complain about his wife frm mornin till night while telling d girl he will leave his wife ‘soon’, but still stays with the wife.

    Never viewd d elections that way, but makes sense tho.

  8. storm

    May 5, 2011 at 11:05 am

    relationship science and political science…nice. Incumbents, beware! Do not go slack on your responsibilities…

  9. Oyakhire

    May 5, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Guy, you must have given this a lot of thought…i wonder if you were really focused on the boy/girlfriend or on NIgerian polictics which is why i love this piece – it is cunning.

  10. Obi-talk

    May 5, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I m really sorry but this article…I didnt get it at all. the whole idea of linking politics with relationship issues just put me off from the ‘go’ point.

  11. meiz-black

    May 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    nice tot….i neva knew there is a thin line btw political science and ‘relationship science’

  12. zira

    May 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    i actually tink 4yrs is such a long time…

  13. faith

    May 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    i can totally relate to dis….so many poeple r stuckup with dia patners today bcos of d stress in starting a new relationship…in my 3hundred level in d university i dateed a ”fine guy” dat was cheating on me n eating d money my dad gave me…wen i complain to my friends abt his cheating dey always say “you no no say na fine boy u dey friend? most times na girls dey go after am”. i felt so bad.. most times i felt like leaving him but again i wuld tik of how lonely i would b without a bf n who knows how d next guy wuld be so i stayed put…..after a yr i culdnt take it any more so had to breakup with him…it wasnt easy cos his house was close to mine…saw him daily with different girls…i felt so lonely after 6months i finally met my presnt sweethrt..we will b getting married in july…thank God…

  14. El Bee

    May 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Well written article. I agree with everything except this line:
    ” I mean, why go with someone that may or not be an angel when you can continue with the devil you know?”

    Why would you want to stay with the devil when you can take a chance with the new prospect? The only reason anyone should stay with the “incumbent”, a significant other in this case, is if he/she is doing the right things! Otherwise, move on!

  15. Chibaby

    May 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    hmmm….well, Change is good. Staying with the devil you know isn’t always the best answer.

  16. Komi

    May 6, 2011 at 1:57 am

    I’ve always hated that statement “the devil you know is better than an angel you don’t know”. That’s a bunch of bullcrap! If the person you’re with is a confirmed devil, LEAVE THEM! I’d rather take a chance on someone new while keeping my eyes open, than stay in a bad situation just because of familiarity.

  17. doubleyouhehigh

    May 6, 2011 at 9:59 am

    dis dimension is on point!

  18. Timma

    May 6, 2011 at 11:10 am

    This makes a very interesting topic and i really like the angle TJ used. You are very correct!

  19. Adaobi

    May 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Yep some boyfriends/girlfriends get tooo… comfortable,they feel their partner can take it all even when the signs are there(Yup, they are always there). Its good to move on to something new and fresh or simply rediscover that part of yourself that was absorbed in your ex.

  20. fokasibe

    May 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I like this…interesting read…I like the fact that you intertwine the main jist with the main jist…lol…..which is the main jist sef? relationship or politics? Hehehe I’m just kidding..:)

  21. awe

    May 9, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    hey tj! just so u knw, i love ur posts…always look out 4 them on BN. ….keep em comn…

  22. AngelAmanda

    May 10, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Nicely written. The link between politics and romance was ingenious too

  23. Purpleicious Babe

    May 12, 2011 at 1:20 am

    hmmm interesting article… I dont know understand the political bit deeply but I sort of get the correlation with relationships…

    Personally, I wouldn’t stay in a relationship where its going no where, and there is no growth or anything significant i.e. no God… Considering that I am passionate about growth and learning.. I will not accept a relationship that lacks significant worth hence, i dont care about devil is better or angel is… It is not about an emotional journey for me, it is about looking into the future and applying wisdom..
    I would rather leave it and just work on me jare.. besides, I dont believe in boyfriend and girlfriend…

    Why does it have to take four years to know that I want to spend the rest of my life with one person. It took me less than 24 hours to suss the guy out and why I want to spend the rest of my life with him… But then again we are all different with different mentalities. God is still enlightening me.

  24. ephee

    May 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    they are devils and there are angels disguised as devils. it is only God that can see one throug wen it coms to relationship. my ex-boyfriend and i dated for 5years and the only way he could show his so called ‘love’ was by dating another girl and began introducing her to people and not till i decided to leave the relationship my self he neva for once told me he wants to break up with me and six months after he coms begging and pleading to come back and he is still very much with the cheat(girl).i prefer the devil to be in the past and dwell with the angel in happiness than waste my precious time with the devil who might abandon you anytime.

  25. drsue

    September 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I know this is coming months after the article was posted, but just had to write this. I ignored a nice long-term toaster cos of a weak-assed bf who couldn’t even introduce me to his mom as his gf after 5yrs! Now I’ve finally broken up with him, and my old toaster and I are getting on well, only he’s getting married to someone else in Nov! Pls ignore the silly power of incumbency n get out of the rship if U̶̲̥̅̊ have any doubts. I really liked thae guy but the power of incumbency hindered me from really checking it out

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