Edo APC dares Obaseki; Erect Tinubu campaign Billboards at Benin Airport

By DADA AYOKHAI

The Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC , recently succeeded in devising a clever way to beat the PDP-led state government in its own game by finding a way to mount the party’s campaign billboards at strategic locations within the vicinity of the Benin Airport.

Giant-sized billboards of the APC presidential standard bearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his running mate, Sen Kashim Shettima stare boldly at the airport users as they make their way out of the arrival hall to the parking slots to take either airport taxis or other means of transport to their respective destinations.

The state government is said to be doing everything possible to bridle the opposition and deny them access to the electorates via the use of billboards.

The APC considers to be the Achilles heel of the PDP in the state, is the main target, followed by the Labour party and the others.

The state government has been variously accused of using state machinery to frustrate and prevent the opposition parties from erecting campaign billboards.
Despite pleadings to create a level playing field and unfettered access to the available advertising spaces, the state government remained adamant and even proceeded to tighten the noose.

The worst hit are the APC and the Labour Party

Also, the state governor, Mr. Goodwin Obaseki, is on record as having warned that the full wrath of the state will descend heavily on any billboard proprietor who accepts to erect the campaign billboards of the APC and the other parties. The governor’s remark reportedly drew the ire of the members of the public who felt his stance was anti-democratic as well as capable of stifling the democratic space

In furtherance to the rigid stance of his principal, the Edo State commissioner of Communication and Orientation, Mr. Chris Nekhihare, regurgitated the same line when he disclosed that the state government has paid for all the available billboard spaces in advance, knowing the elections were at hand.

Acting swiftly to ensure that it gained better mileage and exposure, the Edo State chapter of the APC pulled a fast one on the state government by cornering all the available advertising spaces at the Benin airport to mount giant-sized billboards of Tunubu and Shettima

Each of the giant-sized billboards, strategically mounted at both the entry and exit points of the airport, are bold and colourful and carries the screaming messages of the APC presidential candidate. The three other billboards, erected inside the airport premises, with various party-discerning messages attracted numerous glances from the airport users.

Expectedly, pundits who have been watching the cat-and-mouse game between the APC and the ruling PDP with keen interest, have described the APC move as a “smart one”, adding the state government lacks the power to control or to determine billboard placement in the airport arena since it falls within the exclusive preserve of the federal government through the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN.

As it is, the FAAN is one of the parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the APC-led federal government will likely not condone any form of state inference.

A staunch Edo APC member who spoke in confidentiality declared that there is no way Gov Obaseki and his followers would pass through the Benin airport, which they do frequently, without coming face to face with the billboards and adding the face of the man they have developed a phobia for.

There is yet no reaction from the state government. But in the coming days and weeks, political pundits expect a further tightening of the outdoor media outside of the airport to deny the APC from making any form of direct appeal to the voters.

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