The Ugly Side of Political Posters
With the 2023 General Election winding up, Raheem Akingbolu writes on the need for stakeholders in the ongoing election exercise to quickly look into how to remove posters used for campaigns to enhance aesthetic of the environment
Like every election year, political posters of various parties and politicians are currently competing for spaces in all the towns and cities of the 36 states of Nigeria including the federal capital territory (FCT).
It is expected because posters and leaflets are among the cheapest means of communication during electioneering campaigns, compared to billboards or ad placement in newspaper, radio or television.
Since early last year, when the jostling for party candidates into various elective posts began, the ‘poster war’ has continued unabated. There hasn’t been any breathing space for the environment as politicians have bombarded every available space on the streets with posters. Now that the political euphoria is almost over and winners from some of the elections and their supporters have begun their ‘honeymoon,’ there is urgent need to remove the posters.
However, there is always a sharp difference between the enthusiasm displayed while putting up the campaign materials and after the election. After the election, the responsibility of removing the campaign materials becomes that of the government and its agencies.
For instance, after the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections, the states’ outdoor regulatory agencies -the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA) and the Oyo State Signage and Advertisement Agency (OYSAA), carried out the cleaning exercise.
According to LASAA management, the agency had then factored in the process of removal while preparing for the campaign by procuring modern technologies that would make the job fast.
In view of the clarion call by stakeholders that sanity must be restored to the environment, the Director General of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), Dr. Lekan Fadolapo, in a telephone conversation with THISDAY, called on those concerned to start cleaning up the towns and cities immediately after the elections.
“It’s very important to restore neatness and sanity after the posters have defaced walls and available spaces in the town. To this end, I want to appeal to political parties and politicians to cooperate with the government in the sanitization exercise of the environment,” Fadolapo stated.
Meanwhile, despite the warning given by Lagos State in its guidelines that banners could only be displayed on inner roads and streets, and must be attached to the wall of a particular building – with the consent/agreement of the building owners – limited to inner streets and also not tied to poles or public utilities, including electric and telecom poles, the promoters of various political parties have consistently done the otherwise. Almost all the political parties have flouted the rules in Lagos and other states, including the FCT.
2023 Election Guidelines
In some states, especially Lagos, Oyo, Anambra states, where state governments have structures on ground to guide political campaigns, things are a bit regulated, compared to others. In Anambra, the state didn’t only charge on posters, it also banned pasting of posters on bridges and road demarcations along the streets of the state, just as it prohibited the pasting of campaign posters on street light poles; roundabout and other public buildings
Six months ago, precisely in August, Anambra Signage and Advertising Agency (ANSAA), issued a directive that presidential candidates of the various political parties who wished to mount or paste their posters anywhere in Anambra State for the purposes of the 2023 elections were to pay N10m.
A statement which was signed by the managing director of the agency, Mr. Tony Ujubuonu also said that senatorial candidates were to pay N7 million, while House of Representatives candidates were to pay N5 million. Similarly, those wishing to contest for the state House of Assembly were to pay N1 million.
The agency also pegged the statutory costs for out -of- home media and mobile advertising at N100,000 for 48 sheets billboards, N500,000 for spectacular billboards, N500,000 gantry displays, N100,000 for irregular shaped billboard; N50,000 for branded vehicle and N5,000 for tricycle rear branding respectively.
According to the notice, materials for advertising such as posters, public address system, banners, fliers, bunting, T-shirts, caps and sundries must be fully paid for and approved by the government authorities before they could be displayed for public consumption in any part of the state.
The payments, the government said, were to be made to the state’s revenue account before pasting the posters anywhere, warning that politicians who default in the payments would face legal prosecution before the election.
The notice further said that every billboard must be displayed through a registered advertising practitioner after the advertising content must have been vetted by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON.
In the same way, the Lagos State Signage and Advertisements Agency (LASAA) had earlier issued guidelines on the use of election campaign materials in the state ahead of the 2023 general elections as provided under its enabling law.
Managing Director of LASAA, Mr. Adedamola Docemo, who spoke on the guidelines last year, urged everyone involved to comply for sanity and to protect the environment from defilement, visual blight and other adverse effects of uncontrolled or unregulated deployment and display of political campaign materials within the state during the upcoming electioneering period.
The agency, therefore, strongly advised that political parties and aspirants must refrain from indiscriminate deployment of campaign posters and embrace the use of other creative and innovative platforms, including stick in the ground, billboards, mobile A-frames and mobile adverts.
It also reiterated its readiness to assist and co-operate with all political parties, politicians, campaigners and their supporters in ensuring that they have a hitch-free political participation.
Worried by the way some politicians flout the rule and debase the environment; despite the government’s insistence on global practice image management consultants and environmental enthusiasts have called on the government to put every necessary measure in place to remove the posters. Among other things, federal and state regulatory agencies have been urged to retrain their staff, update their technologies and return the streets back to their excellent look before the campaign.
In his reaction to the development, the Chief Executive Officer of PR Nigeria, Mallam Yushau Shuaib called on all stakeholders to scale up their effort and clean up the cities.
“There are guidelines on the use of political and election campaign materials including billboards, wall drapes, banners, and posters, especially after obtaining permits before placements on specific sites, structures and locations within a given environment. We should not forget that some agencies also outline penalties for violators. Now, indiscriminate deployment and pasting of campaign posters are not only rampant, they also deface public utilities with the arbitrary pasting.
“Advertisers who sought and obtained permissions for the placements are under obligation to remove them after the elections. Agencies responsible for environment sanitisation are under obligations too to remove the items as part of their mandates. It is a standard requirement that all the advertising materials must be removed after the elections,” Shuaib stated.
Another communication expert and chartered mediator, Ambrose Igboke in his own reaction, regretted that after the elections, there are no clear cut strategies or even plans to clean up these advertisements but insisted that 2023 must be an exception.
To address the situation, Igboke, who is also the Chairman, Guild of Public Affairs Analysts, Enugu State Chapter recommended a few strategies for cleaning up electioneering campaign advert materials in Nigeria.
According to him; “The sale of advert billboard advert space should not be more than four months before the elections, depending on the rules of the electoral body. Most of the time, the billboards are booked for 12 months, hence the political adverts remain there many months after the election. What I’m saying in essence is that outdoor advertising companies should be compelled not to sell a space for more than 6 months prior to election. All electoral outdoor billboard adverts should be removed not more than 80 days after the elections. Finally, a task force should be constituted in states to remove pasted posters not more than 30 days after the elections,”
Speaking in respect of Lagos State, an experiential marketing practitioner, Adeyemi Julius, said he’s confident that LASAA know how to go about the removal and discard of such unwanted items such as the “above the line adverts like large billboards, poll post and others. He also added that the agency would assist in getting posters off the streets.