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With the clock counting down to the Imo state gubernatorial election, Dr. Kachi Nwoga, the candidate of the Action Democratic Party, ADP has condemned the ₦54 million fee imposed on political parties and governorship candidates for the erection of campaign Billboard.
He described the outrageous budgets for the campaign strategy as criminal, obscene, sinful and obnoxious.
With a previous warning about Imo State’s deteriorating insecurity, especially for opposition members, Dr. Kachi Nwoga now acknowledged the stifling conditions in the State, depriving people of the ability to breathe comfortably.
In a meeting with journalists on Monday in Abuja, the ADP Candidate urged the State government to grant the people the freedom to vote for their preferred candidate.
Additionally, the candidate earnestly pleaded with the citizens to remain optimistic and resilient, despite facing humiliation and security challenges.
Nwoga said, ‘The opposition is not allowed to breathe. I cannot go and put up a billboard today because they are telling me to pay N54 million naira to put up a billboard, it means I cannot put up a billboard.’
‘I don’t know any state anywhere, even if you need to convert it to dollars, nobody can charge this kind of money. It’s obscene, it’s atrocious, it’s sinful. That’s what they’re asking the opposition to pay.’
‘And I intend to ask, since the entire state up and down is filled with the billboard of one particular person, I really want to know how much the State has made from that one person.’
The ADP candidate also alleged that State officials were confiscating branded cars of opposition political parties in the State for not having a gubernatorial advert permit
The ADP candidate speculated that State officials were involved in the confiscation of branded vehicles belonging to opposition political parties in the State, citing the lack of a gubernatorial advert permit as justification.
The contents of letters, now available to newsmen, brought to light that the Imo State government, via the Imo Signage and Advertisement Agency (IMSAA), has implemented a ₦54 million charge on opposition parties to account for advertising and signage displays used during the governorship campaigns.
In a communique dated June 7, 2023, Hon. Chibuzor Umunnakwe, the General Manager of the agency, extended formal notice to several political parties participating in the governorship election in the State.
The letter, titled, ‘Schedule of rates and terms for political advertising and ancillary signage displays in Imo State for gubernatorial campaigns’ disclosed that the political parties who intend to erect billboards or engage in any sort of campaign must apply to the agency.
The agency, while issuing the letter on June 7th, reiterated that the rates, terms, and conditions governing political advertising, out-of-home campaign displays, and ancillary items had been enforceable since April 2, 2023, for all gubernatorial campaigns in the state.
The letter read: ‘Political candidates intent on deploying outdoor/public displays must obtain, fill and submit the IMSAA application for outdoor political campaign advertisement form.’
‘A list of proposed billboard sites, including the ones for rental should be indicated in the form or as a separate attached document. If the sites are going to be built by the candidate or supporting parties, these would be treated as temporary structures.’
‘On approval of the form content, candidates will make the appropriate fee payments as indicated below.’
‘If IMSAA finds all processes satisfactory, candidates will get a compliance confirmation letter from the agency.’
Umunnakwe specified that the application form fee would be N100,000, whereas the ‘gubernatorial Campaign Permit fee’ carries a weighty cost of N54,000,000.
In a different notice tailored for opposition political parties, the agency explicitly stated that the gubernatorial campaign permit is not transferable and will automatically expire 30 days after the election.