A former sports editor of The Guardian Newspaper Limited and later that of Next on Sunday, Olukayode Thomas, has thrown his hat into the ring to contest for the presidency of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria.
He becomes the second candidate for the position, coming out four days after that of former Olympics gold medallist, Enefiok Udo-Obong
In a press release made available to Sports Village Square, Olukayode Thomas, a seasoned sports journalist with bias for athletics reporting promised to transform the federation into a success story like the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.
According to the presidential aspirant who was also a member of the recently dissolved executive committee of the AFN as well as the organizing committee for the Lagos Marathon, the Lagos road race “is on record as the only marathon that shot from inception into one of the global elite marathons in less than two years.”
He is the Director, Communications and Media of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon. He remarked that his experience as an athletics journalist and four years as an athletic administrator have given him great insight into the challenges of athletics in Nigeria.
He is of the opinion that he will offer solution to the challenges if he gets the mandate to lead the on June 13.
“It is easy to stand on the fence to pontificate on the problems and challenges of athletics; with over two decades’ experience as an athletics reporter and serving a term on the board, I have better insight.
“Most do not know the problems and the way out while many of those campaigning are election merchants. Once they come on board, that is the end.
“You will never see them providing meaningful contributions or attending meetings unless there is a major championship.
“Apart from the few months I took off to work as a volunteer for All Progressives Congress (APC) between 2014 and 2015, I was always around to understudy the administration and management of athletics which is why I have a well of knowledge and understanding about its challenges and the solutions’’ said Thomas.
He also said working with Team Nilayo on the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has given him the experience in marketing, branding, sponsorship and communications to enable him turn AFN into one of the top twenty brands in Nigeria within two years and top ten before the end of his four-year tenure.
“When we started the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon in September 2015, it was an unknown brand. Bukola Olopade, Head of Team Nilayo, Yussuf Alli and I went around all the nook and crannies of Lagos looking for support and sponsorship.
“Lagos State Government and Access Bank keyed into the idea and in less than two years, an unknown product is now a global brand that the sponsors and everybody associated with the brand is proud of.
“It is now the biggest one day event in Africa, with the potential to be the biggest in the world soon.’’
Thomas who is also a former head of Investigation Desk at Vintage Press, publishers of The Nation Newspapers, promised to use the practical experience acquired while working with Team Nilayo on the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon to turn AFN around within two years.