Reactions As Gov. Hope Uzodinma Impose N54.3million Mandatory Campaign ‘Permit Fee’ For Opposition Candidates
Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state has stipulated the sum of N54.3million as the mandatory ‘Permit fee’ for Governorship candidates in the state to display and disseminate their campaign messages.
This was brought to light Saturday by the G-12 chieftains of the Imo state Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), who described the policy executed through the Imo Signage and Advertising Agency (IMSAA) as obnoxious and a deliberate stifling of opposition political views in utter violation of the constitution ofthe Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Speaking on behalf of the 12 party chairmen of the Imo IPAC G-12, Elder Uchendu Ahaneku of the Action Alliance (AA) regretted that Governor Hope Uzodinma, through IMSAA may have deliberately contrived a policy contrary to the provisions of the constitution and Electoral Act to cripple the campaign activities of opposition political parties by barring them from conveying and selling their political manifestos to Imo people, through the obnoxious IMSAA restrictions.
“From all intents and purposes the policy is deliberately targeted at opposition political parties and their governorship candidates; to stifle their voices, shut down their campaigns and confer an undue advantage to Governor Hope Uzodinma who is running in the same November 11 election to retain his seat as Governor of Imo state.
“Until the governor proves otherwise, IMSAA has become a political tool used by Governor Uzodinma to harass and intimidate political parties and opponents through the obnoxious demand of N54.3million campaign permit fee, which paves the way for only APC to run an elaborate governorship campaign.”
Ahaneku however noted that the party chieftains have already put machinery in motion to challenge the exploitative policy in the court of law.
Speaking also, Prince Marshal Okaforanyanwu of the Social Democratic Party accused Uzodinma of intentionally weaponizing IMSAA and other agencies of government for his unjust political advantage. He observed that nowhere in Nigeria has such devious machination to undermine the opposition through unlawful policies, been seen or heard of since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.
“Uzodinma is not interested in a fair contest come November 11, all his after is how he will return unopposed as governor. Of course it has been the story of his life, he has never engaged in fair political context which is a true test of popularity among the citizens. Nevertheless , the opposition will not be cowed by the shenanigans of the Imo state government and for the avoidance of doubt, we shall interrogate this obnoxious lawin court and seek appropriate redress”, Okaforanyanwu stressed.
Meanwhile, according to IMSAA the permit fee for governorship candidates to advertise and publicize their campaign messages is N54.3million with non-refundable processing fee of N100,000; site inspection fee of N50,000 and approval fee of N150,000, bring everything to a total of N54.3million for every Governorship candidate in Imo state.
IMSAA noted in their fee schedule that even after paying the stipulated N54.3million, that IMSAA “reserves the right to reject any application”.
Further study of the payment schedules shows that IMSAA may be bent on restricting the reach and spread of opposition governorship candidates when it added a clause to its fee demands that the permit allows candidates to display messages only within permitted areas of Imo state.