Kogi 2023: PDP's Melaye dares Bello's govt over signage fees

L-R: Kogi governor, Yahaya Bello, Dino Melaye

L-R: Kogi governor, Yahaya Bello, Dino Melaye

By Richard Elesho

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Kogi and her candidate, Senator Dino Melaye, have rejected the fees fixed by the state government for display of campaign materials, including signage and billboards for political political parties participating in the November 11, 2023 Governorship election.

The PDP, in a statement signed by Kola Olagbondiyan, head , Dino Media team on Monday in Lokoja, described the fees as vexatious, undemocratic and unrealistic.

He added that the fees by the Kogi State Signages Agency was an attempt to evade contest and to constrain the democratic field and stir-fry other political parties out of visibility before the November gubernatorial election.

The PDP summarily rejects the repugnant, pugnacious, and unlawful guidelines of the present administration and urges other Political Parties as well as democratic lovers and institutions to reject the fees.

The statement, described the signage fees as illegal, unacceptable for excluding certain Local Government Areas and towns, known to be the strongholds of the PDP, including, Ijumu and Ankpa Local Government Areas where the PDP candidate, Senator Dino Melaye, and his running mate, Hon Habibat Mohammed Deen, respectively hailed from.

According to the statement, such feeble and childish attempt by the administration to close the campaign field against the PDP in the State is a revelation that the APC has reached its wits end, having become deflated by the crushing rejection of the people ahead of the election.

Ologbondiyan argued that the PDP has to reject the fees which he called obnoxious and draconian. The party noted that the fees include general payment of N5,000,000 (five million naira) for outdoor campaign materials, N2,000,000 (two million naira) for every billboard, N1,000,000.00 (one million naira) for every banner deployed and another N50,000,000 (fifty million naira) to be deposited as caution security.

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“Under the inoperable, illegal guidelines, the PDP, which has deployed over 50 banners in each of the 21 Local Government Areas of the State, will be expected to pay N1,050,000,000 (one billion and fifty million naira) as signage fees alone. It is laughable that this figure already exceeds the entire expenditure threshold of N1b (one billion naira) prescribed for Gubernatorial election under Section 88 (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the good people of Nigeria are invited to note that the campaign decrees of APC and the administration is being rolled out two months after INEC had announced the lifting of the ban on political campaigns.

“It is also instructive to note that our party has since deployed our regenerative campaign materials, making the purported guidelines retroactive, inapplicable, and inappropriate.

“The terms of the guidelines by the Bello administration are, to say the least, restrictive, unimaginative, and clandestine. Contrary to the provisions of Section 95 (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022 that no state apparatus, including the media, should be used to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election, Governor Yahaya Bello has employed the KOSSA to prescribe ridiculous, untenable, and unreasonable fees for campaign materials, including an obnoxious caution deposit.

“What the Government seeks to achieve is to acquire an illegal authority to vandalise campaign materials, having realized that his Party and his handpicked candidate have neither the record nor a demonstrable performance to display or any electoral value to be canvassed on billboards and banners.

“The laws of Nigeria allow candidates of all parties to campaign freely without any hindrance. In view of its illegality, incompetence as well as the conflict with the provisions of the electoral Act 2022 and its retroactive emergence, the guidelines for campaign materials issued by the Kogi State Signage and Advertisement Agency is recommended for thrashing in the garbage bin where it belongs,” he alleged.

While lamenting that the guidelines were conceived in bad faith and out of tune with contemporary democratic ethos, he said the PDP, as a lawful party, will not subject itself to any rule that is contrary to the laws of the Federation.

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