26th October, 2022
By Jethro Ibileke
Edo Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, said all billboards in Benin, the state capital now belonged to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the party had with its ‘foresight’ acquired them before the beginning of the 2023 election campaign season.
With the acquisition, Nehikhare, said report the state government has stopped owners of billboards from accepting publicity materials from opposition parties in the state is embarrassing.
Nehikhare who doubles as the deputy director, (media and publicity) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Management Council in the state, stated this while briefing journalists in Benin City, on Wednesday.
He described the report as false and the handiwork of mischief makers.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communication and Orientation, Solomon Imohiosen and the Special Adviser to the State Governor on Media Projects, Crusoe Osagie, were present at the media briefing.
He said the government only had the foresight to pay billboard agents ahead of the official kick-off of campaigns and are by effect, the legal owner of that billboards.
According to him, “The Edo state government is not unreasonable in its approach to governance by withholding opportunities for a proper democratic process. In Edo, freedom is given to the opposition to express themselves.
“It’s not a coincidence that the elections are around the corner. As far back as a few months ago, Edo state government discussed with all billboard owners to make payments for quite a number of billboards in the Benin metropolis.
“We did not take possession because we were waiting for the campaign to kick-off and if anybody has gone to a billboard agent to pay for a billboard, the person who pays first and is given a date for when his account will start to run, is actually the legal owner of that billboard.”
He continued: “We, as a party, raised the money for these billboards so they are a property of the Edo PDP. We were more strategic in planning, and took advantage of the time to make payments for most of the billboards.
“If a billboard agent has taken money from you and cannot post your advert, you should go back and get your money because we paid for them. We have no apologies to anyone who didn’t have the foresight to do it.
“It is very embarrassing when people carry sensational headlines like Edo State bans other parties from using billboards.
“The Edo state government is not a gangster and does not act like the APC. In Lagos state that happens, but in Edo, such can’t happen. We do not own billboards; we are not agents of billboards. What we do is to have policies in place to ensure they are not causing nuisance in our streets by controlling where the billboards are located.”