APC, PDP Set To Tango As Delta Orders Removal Of Campaign Billboards

Source: thewillnigeria.com

BEVERLY HILLS, October 09, (THEWILL)  – A fresh battle is brewing in Delta State as the state government has ordered the immediate removal of billboards erected by politicians and others along major highways in the state.

The development, sources told THEWILL, is already causing acrimony between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other political parties in the state as the opposition party alleged that the directive was part of the plans by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to wither the influence of some aspirants in the governorship race in the state.

The source, who craved anonymity, said the Governor had already given the Commissioner for Environment, Chief Frank Omare, the go-ahead to pull down the campaign billboards of some governorship aspirants for allegedly defacing  the Delta highways.

According to the source, Omare was expected to commence the action last Friday but for some hitches, saying the government was still weighing the implication of the action which was to be carried out at the time the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) was giving the aspirants the go-ahead to commence campaign.

Our source said that the billboards the state government referred to as defacing the expressways are mainly the ones erected by some leading aspirants in the state, stressing that it was a calculated plan that would lead to great controversy in the state.

The source said that the order was handed down to the Commissioner of Environment who the government had used in other similar occasions to pull down structures belonging to opposition party members in the state under the pretext of embarking on the cleaning of canals and drainage in the state as well as ridding the state of illegal structures.

Our source cited the much-flaunted clean-up exercise in Warri, which was embarked upon by Omare,  as a waste of public funds as well as the demolition of hundreds of structure in Ifiakporo, Warri South Local Government Area as example of how the governor was 'politicising' every single thing in the state as a result of 2015.

'They rushed to 'clean-up Warri for one week because President Goodluck Jonathan was visiting. Go back to Warri and see the mess after the supposed clean-up which gulped several millions of naira. All the dirt and filth they spent that huge money 'clearing' have returned because they lack enabling environmental sanitation laws,' THEWILL was told.

The source said that the destruction of over 65 buildings in Ifiakporo under the pretext that the builders had encroached into government reserved area, was apparently because of a 'warning' from a 'prominent palace' in Warri concerning the senatorial ambition of the governor.

'I can tell you that the demolition of building in Ifiakporo sometime ago was because of a warning the governor got from the palace. So I'm not surprised about the government issuing a warning now that they would soon start destroying billboards on the expressway. The billboards they are targeting are those of aspirants they perceive as their main challenger in a bid to install a stooge in Government House come 2015.

'This government came up with various tricks which they called 'policies and programmes' that they cannot even fully implement. Once they clipped who they are after, the' idea' dies.  The billboard thing is targeted at someone. Where did they want people to erect their billboards? Is it in the mood? All over the world billboards are erected in the highways. Do they give 'approval' to erect a billboard? Does Delta state have signage law that is effective? If there is any,  has  the bill been signed into law. What are the parameters they want to use to know which one is 'indiscriminately' erected now and which is 'legally' done?'

THEWILL gathered that the Delta State Government, in a public announcement placed in the state-owned newspaper, The Pointer, as well as the state-owned broadcasting station, stated that the 'attention of the state government had been drawn to the ugly trend in which persons/organisations erect billboards and place caravans indiscriminately along the streets and highways thereby defacing the environment.'

It added: 'In order to check this ugly trend and ensure that the beauty and cleanliness of our environment is sustained, the state Ministry of Environment will on Friday,  October 3, 2014, commence the removal of billboards and caravans indiscriminately placed along the highways and streets.'

The statement which was signed by a Director of Information in the state Ministry of Information, Mr. Paul Osahor,  however added a caveat; 'Persons/organisations who have erected billboards and located caravans along streets and highways in the state are by this announcement advised to remove such billboards/caravans.'

THEWILL however gathered that sometime in  December, 2013, the Delta State Governor,  Uduaghan,  was presented with a bill; 'Regulation of Outdoor Structure for the Display of Signages and Advertisement in the State', by the former Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly,   Hon. Victor Ochei, in a bid to restore public order, sanity and clean environment in the state.

While signing of the bill into law, Governor Uduaghan had advised Deltans, especially politicians, to obey the laws guiding signages and advertisements while pasting posters and billboards for their businesses and campaign purpose, noting that such should be done orderly with necessary approvals.

Uduaghan was quoted to have expressed emphasis on the essence of clean environment which every stakeholder in the state must key into to complement and promote the beautification programme of the state government.

He also expressed dismay over the indiscriminate pasting of posters on the recently-constructed bus stops in the state.

'Things should be properly done in the interest of the environment,' Uduaghan was quoted as saying at the occasion.

It was not clear however if the bill boards being 'targeted' for destruction include the campaign billboards of governorship aspirants as well as those of others contesting various elective positions in the state or only those advertising goods and services or churches.

It was also not sure if the directive was part of the move to commence the enforcement of the law regulating display of signage and advertisement billboards in the state as the public announcement didn't make any reference to the said law.