Obaseki’s Agents Destroying My Campaign Billboards, Akpata Alleges

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AKPATA

Obaseki’s Agents Destroying My Campaign Billboards, Akpata Alleges

 

The candidate of the Labour Party in the September 21 Edo State governorship election, Olumide Akpata, has accused the Peoples Democratic Party-led state government of destroying his campaign billboards.

In a statement he released after a press conference on Friday in Benin, Akpata described the action as “desperate, undemocratic, and fascistic”, noting that the action was meant to undermine LP’s campaign and silence the voice of the people.

He said, “Over the past few days, we have witnessed a coordinated, premeditated, and insidious assault on our constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech, political expression, and the fundamental tenets of democracy itself. Billboards that I, as a law-abiding citizen and a gubernatorial candidate, legally paid for and erected across the length and breadth of Benin City have come under attack from the local government areas, who are agents of the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki.

“In Oredo Local Government Area, two of my billboards were viciously vandalised, defaced, and ultimately torn down, with explicit threats of more removals to come. The situation is equally dire and unacceptable in Ovia North East, where two more billboards bearing my visage and campaign messages were mindlessly destroyed by these merchants of antidemocratic forces. In Ikpoba Okha, my campaign team has received unambiguous threats that our billboards in that area will also be targeted for elimination.

“Let me be clear, these are the desperate, last-ditch tactics of an intolerant regime terrified of the winds of change blowing across our dear state, a regime paralysed by the fear of the people’s burgeoning yearning for a new direction, a new vision, and a new era of progressive and inclusive governance.

“By resorting to the destruction of my campaign materials, which I have legally and legitimately paid for with hard-earned resources, Governor Obaseki, and his handlers have clearly shown themselves to be anti-democratic forces intolerant of divergent voices, dissenting opinions, and the fundamental principles of pluralism that undergird any true democracy worth the name,” he alleged.

Responding to Akpata’s allegation, the Edo Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, urged the LP candidate to engage with relevant agencies responsible for signage to settle any outstanding bills or disputes.

He said, “We acknowledge the concerns raised by Olumide Akpata regarding the removal of his campaign billboard. The Edo State Government condemns any form of vandalism and urges all parties involved to address such issues through proper channels.

“While we understand Akpata’s frustration, we encourage him to engage with the relevant agencies responsible for the management of signage to settle any outstanding bills or disputes. Threats of violence or disobedience have no place in our democratic process, and all parties should conduct themselves with decorum and respect for the law.

“It is essential that we focus on constructive dialogue and peaceful engagement rather than resorting to tactics that may incite division or unrest. The government remains committed to upholding the rule of law and will address any disruptive behaviour, regardless of one’s status or affiliation.

“We encourage Akpata to prioritize addressing the internal challenges within his party and work towards fostering unity and stability. Let us all strive to promote a peaceful and inclusive electoral process for the benefit of all citizens.”