In preparation for the 2023 governorship election in Lagos State, one particular hiccup that played out last week was the issue of pasting posters and hanging of billboards. But, critical examination of the whole brouhaha shows INEC’s timeline is the answer.
The Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Lagos State, Olajide Adediran had accused the state government of clandestine moves to prevent the party from executing its campaign plans.
Adediran, popularly called Jandor, claimed that the advertisement agencies contracted by the PDP in Lagos had refunded the money paid to them on the alleged orders of the state government.
Adediran stated these while speaking on the Arise TV Morning Show programme on Wednesday 27th July.
The PDP governorship candidate alleged that his campaign posters were constantly being defaced and removed by some hoodlums allegedly sponsored by the Lagos State Government in its efforts to prevent the main opposition party and its candidates from selling its programmes and manifestos to Lagosians.
He, however, noted that plans were being put in place to enable him to sell his candidacy and that of his running mate, Nollywood actress Funke Akindele, to the electorate in Lagos inspite of the alleged plots by the state government.
He said, “I know them. I was coming from them. We will not sit and fold our arms and be complaining.
“Why I have decided to bring this to the court of public opinion is to let people know what was going on. They cannot stop us from pasting posters. We will turn it to guerrilla warfare and we will begin to go out and paste our posters.”
Adediran added, “The moment that of Afromedia happened in Falomo here, I placed a call through to the Lagos police commissioner myself and I said to him, ‘TP, this just happened. It was removed. We didn’t even know, we thought it was the hoodlums who removed it. It was after investigation that we realised that it was the state government, through LASAA that removed it. The company in question did say to us, ‘They have asked us not to take anything from you. We will refund your money.’ Just like JCDecaux did refund our money.
“The next day I went to the office of the police commissioner with all our team and told him, ‘Look, if you don’t step in, we may be sitting on a keg of gun powder in Lagos. We will never be allowed to be put in the defensive.
“We will continue to paste our posters. Last week on the Third Mainland bridge, which is even a Federal Government road, our people put some A4 boards. They were removing it in broad daylight. After paying for all of these. We won’t allow this, we will find a way to put our campaign materials out there.
“It is our constitutional right to vie for this office. It is our constitutional right to let the people know that we are here and ready to do things differently. Engaging in such activities on their part meant that they know it’s doom for them already and that is why they are doing everything to make sure they stop us and we won’t allow it,” Adediran stated.
In its reaction the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency, LASAA, the body in charge of regulating billboards structure in the State describes Jandor’s outburst as a show of ignorance over its statutory responsibility.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of LASAA, Prince Adedamola Docemo noted, “Our attention has been drawn to the wild allegations made by the People’s Democratic Party governorship candidate in Lagos, Mr. Olajide Adediran, during an Arise TV interview. He accused the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) of removing his campaign posters and instructing outdoor advertising agencies from not to fly his campaign materials.
“Mr. Adediran claimed that the Lagos State Government instructed outdoor advertising practitioners to reject materials from opposition parties and, therefore, his advertisement materials were brought down midway into a contract.
“The PDP candidate displayed stark ignorance of the rules guiding outdoor advertisement practice in Lagos. LASAA simply regulates billboard structures and not advertisement campaigns.
“The decision to deploy any advertisement is the sole discretion of billboard owners who must have registered with LASAA for a licence to hoist advertisement structures in the State. Advertising companies determine their clients and the terms of their trade.
“We are familiar with such theatrics displayed by Mr. Adediran and the People’s Democratic Party in their puerile attempt to curry public sympathy by playing the victim. We will, however, never succumb to falsehood and cheap blackmail.
“LASAA will remain steadfast and committed to its responsibility and the dictates of the law without being partisan.
*For the avoidance of doubt, indiscriminate pasting of posters will not be permitted anywhere in Lagos until political campaigns have been formally flagged off, in accordance with INEC guidelines. Even at that, it must be done at designated sites.
“The guidelines will be enforced without prejudice against any political party, association or aspirant. Lagosians will not be distracted by any political party or candidate who tends to whip up sentiments to gain public sympathy,” Docemo said.
Consequently, going by the Independent National Electoral guidelines as regards the elections, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday 25th February 2023 while the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections will hold two weeks later on Saturday 11th March 2023.
According to INEC Chief, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, “Under the law, there are critical timebound activities from the publication of Notice of Election to the Conduct of Polls which form the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for elections.
He added, “Some of the critical activities and their dates of implementation are as follows: Publication of Notice of Election – Monday 28th February 2022.
“Conduct of party primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from them – Monday 4th April 2022 to Friday 3rd June 2022.
“Submission of nomination forms to INEC via the online portal for Presidential and National Assembly election – 9.00am on Friday 10th June 2022 to 6.00pm on Friday 17th June 2022.
“Submission of nomination forms to INEC via the online nomination portal for Governorship and State Assembly elections – 9.00am on Friday 1st July 2022 to 6.00pm on Friday 15th July 2022.
“Commencement of Campaigns by political parties for Presidential and National Assembly election – Wednesday 28th September 2022.
“Commencement of Campaigns by political parties for Governorship and State Assembly elections – Wednesday 12th October 2022.
“Last day of campaign by political parties for Presidential and National Assembly elections — midnight on Thursday 23rd February 2023.
“Last day of campaign by political parties for Governorship and State Assembly elections — midnight on Thursday 9th March 2023.”
With INEC guidelines, it is crystal clear to harness an answer from the puzzle already playing out between Lagos State Goverment and the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate, Jabdor. The timeline for campaigns stipulated for governorship election is an answer awaiting to be explored.