They are mere gimmicks, distractions — residents
Barely a year to the 2023 general elections, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, is inundated with huge political campaign billboards, posters, inscriptions and the likes, in virtually all nooks and crannies of the city.
Though the Independent National Election Commission INEC has not yet declared political campaigns open or released the timetable for the forthcoming elections, it appears enthusiastic politicians eyeing different political offices in the upcoming polls have since swung into action, mounting campaign insignias within the FCT and its environs.
Some of the aspirants, who have made their intention public, have already embarked on nationwide consultations, produced souvenirs, campaign posters, and billboards.
However, Section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2020 provides that “the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 150 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day.”
It further provides under sub-section (2) that “A registered political party which through any person acting on its behalf during the 24 hours before polling day – (a) advertises on the facilities of any broadcasting undertaking; or (b) procures for publication or acquiesces in the publication of an advertisement in a Newspaper, for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular candidate; is guilty of an offence under this Act and upon conviction shall be liable to a maximum fine of N500,000.00.
The Act further provides under Section 100(1) that “A candidate and his party shall campaign for the elections in accordance with such rules and regulations as may be determined by the commission.”
Some politicians said it was their supporters that mounted the billboards.
Nigeria’s general elections are due to be held around February – March next year, and it’s usual that months heralding the actual polling days would be intense with politicking by politicians and their cohorts.
The main campaigning that first sets in are mounting of small/huge billboards bearing the pictures and party logo of potential candidates on roadsides, buildings, bridges, metal poles of streetlights.
Daily Trust Saturday noticed that the members of the two leading political parties in the country – All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are taking the lead in this politicking.
Major roads leading into the FCT are not spared by these politicians as the Airport Road & Kubwa Expressway host different campaign billboards as seen by Daily Trust Saturday.
Reacting, a resident, Stanley Uwalaka, said some of the promises these politicians made on these billboards and on other social media platforms are just to win people’s hearts to vote them into power.
“Some of these politicians prefer to spend money in advertising for a position than to use the money to better the society because when you calculate money they spend on advert, such money can be used to bring social amenities that impact humans and bring development in the society,” he said.
According to him, “it is high time we put laws in place to hold these politicians accountable if they fail to fulfill their promises, which can go a long way in bringing meaningful development to citizens.”
A furniture designer, Mr Innocent Osuji, described the situation as worrisome, considering the amount of money these politicians spend on billboards.
“2023 general elections are around the corner; and what we hear now is that we are one Nigeria. They will soon come to promise us heaven on earth, but once they get the position, they’ll disappear into thin air. How many of them give account of their leadership? So, I advise fellow Nigerians not to be carried away by such empty promises, but vote for leaders who will bring prosperity,” he added.
He opined that grassroots campaigns should be encouraged rather than looking for avenue to spend money in order to win the hearts of innocent Nigerians.
Mukhtar Abubakar, 29, an Uber driver in the FCT, says places like Central Area, AMAC seems to have been defaced with lots of posters and inscriptions by politicians.
Mukhtar lamented how these things distract him from focusing on driving, adding that if proper investigation is carried out, some of the accidents in the city might not be unconnected to reckless erection of billboards and posters on the streets.
He further advised that there is a need for the authorities to stem the tide by earmarking areas where such things shouldn’t be placed in a city like Abuja.
“Abuja, being the capital city, should be cleaner and more serene than any other city in the country because it’s our pride,” he added.
Husseini Ali, 37, a resident of Deidei, said the posters on buildings, walls, footbridges and streets make Abuja dirtier.
“This is bad. I can see reluctance on the part of the government to halt this trend because they’re the same politicians doing it, hence they’d prefer to spend government money to clean it afterwards.”
But for Ameze David, a business executive in the Utako area of the FCT, there’s nothing to worry about indiscriminate placement of posters and billboards in the FCT by politicians as it is the right channels for them to advertise themselves to prospective electorates.
“They’re the better and more attractive platforms for the politicians to sell themselves to voters although it gives the city a bad dirty look. I think the government needs to look at it because nowadays we have different platforms that one can use to reach out to his intended audience. Both the government and politicians should find a way to resolve this.
“The already existing political activities regulations should be enforced by relevant authorities. We need to respect law and order in the society.
Hamisu Ibrahim Batsari from Gwarimpa Federal Housing Estate, said he’s unperturbed over the placing of campaigns billboards and posters in the FCT.
He said, “Of course, mounting billboards and pasting posters on bridges in the city is a contributing factor to environmental hazards but we shouldn’t be unmindful of many other things that pollute the city more than these billboards and posters.
He said as long as it’s enshrined in the law, the politicians are not overstepping their bounds since the government is aware of their actions, but the government should call everyone to order.
Speaking with the Director General of Val Rocky Global Concept limited, Mr Valentine Oguchi, he said there are different sizes of billboards and their prices and locations vary, adding that there is no fixed price on placement of advert on billboard in the FCT, all depends on the negotiation from the billboard owner and the client.
According to him in the FCT, location of a billboard determines the charges, areas like, Central Business District CBD, Maitama, Wuse Market and Garki cannot be compared with locations like Zuba, Karmo, Kubwa, Mpape, and other outskirts in terms of price.
“Although, sometimes when clients cannot afford to pay for the billboard in the towns, as a result of the price, they can place such an advert where they can afford,” he added.
Mr. Oguchi further said billboard sizes range from 3×6 meters (20x8fit), 7×5 meters, 12×9 meters and the biggest size is 6×18 meters. To place an advert on a 12×9 meters billboard in prime locations like Wuse, CBDs, Maitama, Garki goes for N500,000 to N600,000 per month depending on the client and the agreement with the billboard owner.
“As you can see, 3×6 advert on billboard in Wuse goes for N150,000 to N200,000, but if such billboard is in Nyanya, Zuba, Kurudu, Kubwa, such billboard can be given out for N60,000 to N70,000,” the DG said.
He added that although there are seasons when clients demand for billboards to place advertisements, like during Christmas, festive seasons, political season, and as a result, most clients rent billboards for years, especially when they find out that such billboards are in a good location for their needs.
“There is no special charge for clients like politicians and estate owners, all clients are equal for the fact that they can afford to pay for the bill board,”