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Date Published: 07/29/10

2011: Politics of Billboards and Endorsements By Dr. Lewis Akpogena

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These are interesting times. The atmosphere is getting frenzy and the excitement is bursting. Billboards are springing up and posters have defaced Abuja and other Capitals cities and towns. Some urging the President to run in 2011 while some billboards are political office seekers showcasing their achievements in office while some are about their intended programmes if elected. Billboards and endorsements are form of advertisement of products or services. This piece is about the hypocrisy and deception being displayed through these medium of advertisements by politician in the name of politics and promoting their achievements for people to buy in to their bid for election or re-election. The idea in using billboards and getting celebrities or groups of celebrities or society icons to endorse one’s political aspiration is normal and acceptable in civilized society. My quarrel is the genuineness, sincerity and motive behind the politics of billboards and endorsements.

To politicians seeking re-election in particular, Delta State for example from Councilors, Local Government Chairmen, State House of Assembly members, House of Representative members, Senators and Governors, are pictures of projects being displayed are they real existing projects meeting the needs of the down-trodden? For the years of representation of your constituency, what have been offered as service to the people is it commensurate with resources received? If any representative of the people has served well does it need to display the projects on billboards and pay people to come up and endorse the person for re-election? On daily basis we see politicians especially those seeking re-election running around begging people, hiring crowds and groups to endorse them for second tenure, pays money to newspapers, buying people, locations to take photography. We don’t need all that. If projects and programmes carried out that bettered the people will motivate the people to re-elect such representative without further inducement or cajoling.

We see representatives both elected and appointed in government only come close to the people of their constituency when they need their votes at election period. This is not how to represent the people of your constituency. In civilized society, representatives relate to their constituencies on regular basis apart of town hall meetings, they establish fora to gauge the feelings and assess the needs of their constituencies from time to time. Advertising products or services through billboards and using groups or celebrities to endorse product or service is not wrong but when our politicians or political office seekers uses these medium deceptively to portray and display falsehood of projects or programmes not executed or cost of execution over-inflated is wrong. Monies being spent to erect all these billboards and buying people, bribing political juggernauts or getting cronies to form different groups to endorse politicians or office seekers for election or re-election are wrong. If you have served your constituency well let the projects or programmes that have impacted your constituency move them to vote you again.

A thousand billboards of non-existing projects and hired crowds or groups or individual celebrity endorsement will not guarantee or win election come 2011. I say this as servant of the most High God, come 2011, politicians or representatives be it Councilor, Local Government Chairman, Member State House of Assembly, House of Representative, Senator, Governor or Presidential candidates that have illegally amass wealth, corrupted themselves and the electoral system, and have not served well in the past shall be humiliated and disgraced out of office. The monies being spent on these billboards and buying endorsers can be channeled to tarred old roads and construct new ones, equip our hospitals and Schools, empower unemployed youths, provide security and arrest the increasing crime, kidnapping and what have you in our States. Daily we see our Governors or aspirants going from ethnic group to buy up failed politicians to endorse them for re-election. Why, if you have performed as being displayed in the billboards, newspapers and electronic media or internet, let the people, the services that have impacted the people do the promotional advert substantiated with facts and figure. When we the electorates have verify we shall vote any performing representative or Governor without tribal sentiment or bias for second term.

To those making endorsement and groups chorusing that these so called representatives or governors have performed, what is the basis? Beside monies given to you or your sudden election pressure group to endorse and erect these billboards where the projects are you are endorsing? Did you find out the cost of those projects? How much has these representatives received over time? How has these office seekers spent our monies in the past? Have they been accountable, transparent and honest in their dealings until now? What are you or your group, ethnic association endorsing? Unemployment, increase crime rate, hunger and poverty, increase sickness and deaths over illness that could be cured and lack of equipped hospitals. Are you endorsing corruption, lack of accountability and transparency in government? Are you endorsing collapse of economy, institutions of learning? Have you check the state of schools and educational institutions? Are you endorsing more years of lawlessness, criminality and abuse of power in government? Representatives and governors who could not have town hall meetings only at time of elections come to put up show called town hall meetings? Is it what you and your group are endorsing? It is God who endorses (see Dan.2.). Endorsing non-performing governor or representative is endorsing criminality, corruption, inept leadership and failure of delivering democracy’s dividends to the downtrodden. These desperate politicians and second tenure seekers go to Traditional rulers, Bishops, Pastors, Churches buy them expensive Cars, give them fuel money in Millions and donate to Churches projects or programmes at election period just to get them to endorse these failed political leaders? They have no fear of God, thinking they could buy God to endorse their criminality and anti-people government?

Let it be made clear to every politician seeking for election or re-election that what will help them get into office come 2011 is their antecedent-record of previous performance, how you have through honest services, projects and programmes affected your constituency in the past. Do you have the capacity, competence and character to serve the people in the fear of God? A Governor or representative that is not accessible to his people, cannot be reached always busy in meetings, cannot grant audience or interact with his people is not qualify to be elected. There shall not be carry go election in 2011. Vote will count. Godfatherism will fail. Abuja connection will fail. Many politicians shall be humiliated. Only the chosen of the Lord, endorse by God shall be elected. Billboard and endorsement politicking will fail. God who enthrones also dethrones (see Dan.2 and 5). Be careful serve your people well when you have the opportunity to serve so you don’t need billboard and endorsement and gimmick to get back to office. Have question, you may call: 08055059656 or write: akpogena@yahoo.com and akpogena@gmail.com, Stay blessed.

Dr. Lewis Akpogena, A Christian devotional writer, Consultant and Educationist writes from Port Harcourt

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