As the people of Cross River state take their turn tomorrow to elect their next governor, opposition candidates in the election are accusing the management of the state-owned Cross River Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC) of discrimination, for denying them access to air their jingles and TV adverts.
An aide to the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) candidate in the state, Roy Francis, claimed in a live television debate organized by ‘Enough is Enough (EIE)’, a pro-democracy non-governmental organisation, that the CRBC repeatedly refused to his party’s jingles and other campaign advert materials despite being paid for the services.
“We would pay CRBC for adverts on radio and television and we won’t see or hear them used,” Mr. Francis said. “But, the campaign materials and jingles of the PDP candidate enjoy unlimited attention on the airwaves.”
The CRBC, which was supposed to have covered the EIE debate live, failed to show up, as other opposition candidates who spoke took turns to request the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to take steps to sanction the stations, a statement issued by EIE said.
EIE had claimed that despite the payment of the cash deposit demanded by the station management for live coverage of the debate, the station still failed to show up, insisting on conditions not approved by the NBC for use of the media for political campaigns.
Among the conditions the EIE said it was expected to meet before the debate could be covered live were that organizers of the debate must show to the management of CRBC a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the hosts (EIE) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as well as a confirmation that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Liyel Imoke, would personally attend the event.
EIE equally claims that all efforts to ensure that a recorded version of the debate is subsequently aired by the station were rebuffed by its management.
“Enough is Enough Nigeria maintains a positive relationship with INEC and has established a non-partisan reputation,” its spokesperson said. “Therefore, we are disturbed at what appears to be state-sponsored attempts to impede democratic platforms for opposing views and rigorous debate that ensures accountability and good governance.”
EIE, which plans to also hold similar debates in Edo and Ondo states as part of preparations for election in those states, said the debate was, however, streamed live via the internet and it was attended by Imah Nsa Adegoke of the Labour Part (LP), Usani Usani of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Theo Onyuku of the HDP.