We will remove any political billboard that did not comply – Stanley Buba,INEC yet to lift ban.
The Special Adviser to Governor Tanko Al-Makura on Project Development, Stanley Buba, has said the Nasarawa Urban Development Board (NUDB) has concluded plans to clampdown on indiscriminate placement of political campaign billboards in the state.
Buba said INEC had not lifted ban on political campaigns and that placing of billboards were a violation of the law. “It is not my duty to prosecute them. We in NUDB have announced and notified all political parties that anybody who wants to place billboards or signpost must register with the Urban Development Board and whoever fails to do so, we are going to remove the billboards. Already two aspirants have come to register; one has paid, the other promised to pay this week.
“It is not only political campaign billboards, even if it is business, whether it is a restaurant, hospital or school. It’s just because of the new year that we have given them grace. We went round party offices and asked them to talk to their aspirants to comply with the order because any moment from now we will commence enforcement and whatever we do nobody has reason to blame us,” he said.
Stanley Buba’s comments are coming on the heels of much politicking already evident as notable politicians in Nasarawa State, even before the lift on the ban of political campaigns by INEC, have flooded many parts of the state with posters and billboards.
For the past six months, lots and lots of billboards have been placed in strategic locations, especially on highways and major roads, markets and other public arenas in Lafia, the state capital, Keffi, Akwanga and all the major towns and cities in the state because politicians are already back in the field doing what they know how to do best.
Majority of the billboards and posters carry portraits and names of the purported sponsors, including communities, groups, associations, individuals, friends and well wishers in the guise that they are calling on politicians to answer their call with inscriptions like ‘Call to serve’, “Please answer our call”, “You are our hope, answer our call”, among others.
Apart from the billboards, meetings, consultations, cliques, and interest aggregations have taken the centre stage. Discussions are held, platforms put together and strategies for consensus explored across the state, all geared towards the 2019 general elections.
It is no surprise, therefore, that in Nasarawa State, the airwaves are filled with political news, rumours and conspiracy theories on the likely politicians who will flex muscles and test their popularity at the polls even before the legitimate time for campaigns has not been declared by INEC.
Already, many contenders who want to aspire for positions have since shown interest tactically to contest the governorship, senatorial seats, House of Representatives seats and the state assembly positions from different parties, with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state having most of the contestants.
For the governorship from the APC, the contenders are a former House of Representatives Member, Hon. Ahmed Aliyu Wadada, Architect Shehu Ahmed Tukur, Member representing Nasarawa/Toto Federal Constituency, Architect Muhammed Jafaru Ibrahim, Group Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Company, Engineer Abdullahi Sule and Muhammed Musa Maikaya.
The Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Silas Agara, also joined the race this week as his posters floated Lafia and all the 13 local government areas of the state, although his billboards were last year placed in Akwanga but removed on his order.
While in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the contenders whose billboards and posters have been placed and pasted across the state include Senator Philip Aruwa Gyunka, a former Deputy Governor of the state, Damishi Barau Luka, Senator Patricia Akwashiki and 2015 gubernatorial candidate of the party, Yusuf Agabi.
Another aspirant from All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), a former Minister of Information, Labaran Maku’s, billboards have since been displayed in some strategic locations.
Other governorship aspirants who placed their billboards and posters in different locations in the state are Senator Suleiman Musa Nagogo of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) and Iliyus Favour of the Independent Democrats (ID). Iluyus contested the 2015 governorship.
Another frontline politician and a stalwart of the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) in Nasarawa State, Hon. Dilo Tabami Auta, and Alhaji Muhammed Lawal Sardauna have placed their billboards without party emblem.
The permutations and groupings are more forceful in the Southern Senatorial Zone. The race for the senate would be an interesting one come 2019 mainly because the heavyweights who will flex muscles are people of high political standing with considerable political advantages.
The race would be between the PDP and APC, with Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, the incumbent governor, on top of the list of the APC. The governor’s billboards calling on him to contest were the first to appear many months before other politicians joined the queue.
The only person whose billboards have been erected in Lafia from the APC to slog it out with the governor in a senatorial battle is Salihu Egyebola, who earlier won the 2015 seat, but his victory was upturned by a tribunal.
In APGA, Musa Saidu, a former state Chairman of the APC has his billboards placed in many places in Lafia. He is aspiring for the Southern Senatorial seat.
In the PDP, Member representing Doma/Keana/Awe Federal Constituency, Muhammed Ogoshi Onawo’s, billboards and posters have been placed at the PDP secretariat in Lafia. He is also aspiring for the Southern Senatorial seat.
The billboards of politicians interested in the Lafia/Obi Federal Constituency from the APC include current occupant of the seat, Hon Sarki Dahiru, and Iliyasu Anzaku.
PDP’s Obed Joseph and Ahmed Ibrahim Dallah’s billboards have been placed at the PDP secretariat and other locations in Lafia, while those of Elisha Angwadu from APGA, are placed all over the constituency, all aspiring for the Lafia/Obi Federal Constituency seat.
Ibrahim Muhammed Hamza and Ambassador Simon Dolly have placed their billboards aspiring for Lafia/Obi seat without the emblem of any political party.
For the House of Assembly, billboards of Yahaya Aliyu(APC) is the first aspirant to place billboards in different locations in Lafia seeking to contest for Lafia Central’s seat.
In a telephone interview, APC Public Relation Officer in the state, Wudu Yamba, described the placement of billboards before the lift on the ban of political campaign as unfortunate. He said those placing the billboards had gone beyond limits, “Even signposts that are meant to guide us on the road, they go and place posters on them. I don’t think this is a proper thing to do. I don’t know whether their principals don’t inform them or they are actually going beyond what their principals asked them to do.”
Yamba said, “As a party, we have been very careful because INEC remains the regulatory body and INEC should come out clearly to tell whoever is concerned that they have gone beyond their limit. As a party, we are unable to say anything in that regard yet for fear that we may be seen to be against a particular candidate.”
On his part, spokesman of the PDP in the state, Umar Bwalah, said the billboards placed by PDP aspirants were insignificant compared to the ones placed by the APC, adding that APC billboards were all over the state, saying, “Go and ask INEC to seek for its view. These billboards are purely politics and I cannot comment on this politics.”
When our correspondent contacted the PDP state Chairman, Francis Orogu, he declined to comment.
All efforts to get INEC’s position on the billboards issue proved abortive.