The candidates of Imo State’s opposition political parties have expressed concern over alleged N54 million fees levied against each of them by the All Progressives Congress, APC-led administration of Governor Hope Uzodinma in order for them to be permitted to run for office in the state’s upcoming November 11 governorship election.
Speaking on behalf of the opposition parties in Owerri, the state Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC-G12), Imo State, Chief Uchendu Ahaneku, described the policy as obnoxious and a violation of Nigeria’s Electoral Act and constitution.
They termed it an effort by the state government to strangle opposition parties and ensure that only the APC grows in the state.
The IPAC-G12 is made up of all 12 political parties in the state.
Political parties are required to obtain a permit with a payment of N54 million before erecting campaign structures, including billboards, posters, and other campaign means, according to a document presented to journalists that allegedly came from the Imo Signage and Advertisement Agency, IMSAA, and was signed by its General Manager.
Candidates were also required to pay N100,000 as a form/processing charge, N50,000 for a site inspection, and N150,000 as an approval fee, according to a document titled “Schedule of Rates and Terms for Political Advertising and Ancillary Signage Displays in Imo State for Gubernatorial Campaigns 2023.”
The contract further stated that, even after funds had been made, IMSAA reserved the authority to decline clearance to construct campaign structures.
Ahaneku criticized the strategy as offensive and contravening Nigeria’s electoral law and constitution.
He said the IPAC-G12 would not think twice about taking the state government to court if it does not reverse the decision, pleading with Uzodimma to call the agency to order.
He bemoaned the fact that since the state’s founding, there had never been such a move against the opposition parties.