Pro-Jonathan groups spend big for 2015

Pres­i­dency: It’s their own money

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - Cont’d from page 1

By Andrew Agbese, Isi­aka Wak­ili, Ibrahim Kabiru Sule (Abuja), Chris Agabi & Mo­hammed Shosanya (La­gos) Many po­lit­i­cal groups root­ing for Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan’s re-elec­tion are spend­ing lots of money in me­dia cam­paigns, rais­ing ques­tions about their source of fund­ing.

Daily Trust cor­re­spon­dents ob­served that the groups, most of which propped up this year, have been spon­sor­ing ex­pen­sive tele­vi­sion jin­gles, news­pa­per ad­ver­tise­ments and bill­boards in strate­gic lo­ca­tions in the past months.

Their mes­sages are gen­er­ally about the pres­i­dent’s achieve­ments and the need to con­sol­i­date them by hav­ing him re-elected in 2015.

This is hap­pen­ing even though the pres­i­dent has yet to of­fi­cially de­clare if he would run.

Some of the or­gan­i­sa­tions are shad­owy, while oth­ers have come for­ward to hold pub­lic ral­lies and hold news con­fer­ence.

Daily Trust in­ves­ti­ga­tions found that at least 10 such groups have been en­gaged in the me­dia spend­ing frenzy, likely amount­ing to dozens of mil­lions.

Two of the groups take reg­u­lar prime tele­vi­sion slots ev­ery­day

The groups have been spon­sor­ing ex­pen­sive TV jin­gles, news­pa­per ads and bill­boards

on the Nige­rian Tele­vi­sion Author­ity (NTA), African In­de­pen­dent Tele­vi­sion (AIT) and Chan­nels Tele­vi­sion. They are the Pro­tec­tors of Nige­rian Pros­per­ity and the Trans­for­ma­tion Am­bas­sadors of Nigeria (TAN).

A one-minute ad­vert slot on 9pm NTA Net­work News costs about N800,000 while on Newsline on Sun­day, the slot costs N1 mil­lion.

On AIT, a minute jin­gle on prime-time is N625,000 while Chan­nels TV charges N279,000 for a sim­i­lar slot, ac­cord­ing to in­sid­ers who spoke to Daily Trust.

The groups run­ning news­pa­per ad­ver­tise­ments in­clude De­fend­ers of Nigeria’s Democ­racy, Niger Delta Res­i­dents Al­liance, Good­luck Jonathan Lead­er­ship Cen­tre, Na­tional Coali­tion for Jonathan and Sambo Pres­i­dency, Dy­namic Delta Ladies, The Trans­for­ma­tion Net­work, Good­luck Ini­tia­tive for Trans­for­ma­tion (GIFT), and Jonathan/Sambo 2015 Fo­rum.

They have run se­ries of in­ser­tions of mostly colour pages in the ma­jor na­tional dailies, in­clud­ing Daily Trust, Thisday, Van­guard and Lead­er­ship over the past two months. The aver­age cost of colour page advertisement in the ma­jor news­pa­pers is about N600,000 per page.

There are also bill­boards in strate­gic lo­ca­tions of Abuja, most of them erected in March and April, with cat­e­gor­i­cal mes­sages ask­ing Nige­ri­ans to vote for Jonathan in 2015.

Ad­ver­tis­ing agency of­fi­cials told Daily Trust that plac­ing an ad­vert on the bill­boards costs up to N15 mil­lion yearly.

“The cost is based on ap­peal, lo­ca­tion and class of the in­tended au­di­ence,” one of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day.

Ques­tions over fund­ing

There have been ques­tions over the source of fund­ing for the pro-Jonathan groups, with sug­ges­tions that govern­ment may be be­hind them.

But the Pres­i­dency yes­ter­day said it had no links with the groups, and that no govern­ment money is in­volved what they were do­ing.

The Spe­cial Ad­viser to the Pres­i­dent on Po­lit­i­cal Mat­ters, Bar­ris­ter Ahmed Gu­lak, in a tele­phone chat with Daily Trust, said the groups are vol­un­teers spend­ing their own money.

Gu­lak also ar­gued that they were not en­gaged in any pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign be­cause there was no can­di­date yet.

“These groups you are talk­ing about are vol­un­teers. Nei­ther Mr Pres­i­dent nor the Pres­i­dency is spon­sor­ing any one of them,” Gu­lak said.

“They are spend­ing their own money on those ac­tiv­i­ties you talked about like ad­verts in news­pa­pers and jin­gles in the elec­tronic me­dia as well as erect­ing bill­boards. It is their own money they are spend­ing.

“They are not cam­paign­ing now be­cause there is no can­di­date yet. So, you can­not say they are vi­o­lat­ing any rule since what they are do­ing is not a cam­paign.”

‘He must stand’

Jonathan has not of­fi­cially de­clared his in­ten­tion to seek re-elec­tion in 2015 but it is widely be­lieved that he would be in the race.

Daily Trust re­ported last week that the pres­i­dent may make a for­mal dec­la­ra­tion next month.

One of the sup­port­ers groups, “GIFT 2015”, with of­fice at Wuse II of Abuja, said it would com­pel Jonathan to con­test in the elec­tions.

Its na­tional co­or­di­na­tor Chinedu Ok­palanma said they had no links with for­mer Avi­a­tion Min­is­ter Stella Od­uah, who was the ar­row­head of Jonathan’s cam­paign groups in the 2011 elec­tions.

On March 31, Ok­palanma led other groups for a “March in March” sol­i­dar­ity rally for Pres­i­dent Jonathan’s govern­ment, where they urged the pres­i­dent to seek re-elec­tion.

An­other man be­ing as­so­ci­ated with ‘GIFT’, Mr. Daniel Kanu, told Daily Trust he was not be­hind the group but was com­ing up with his own as­so­ci­a­tion to can­vass sup­port for Jonathan.

“People have been try­ing to as­so­ciate me with all kinds of or­gan­i­sa­tions but I have my own, known as the New Deal, which I am bring­ing up to cam­paign for Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan,” he said.

At least 10 pro-Jonathan groups are spend­ing big on me­dia cam­paigns to can­vass sup­port for the re-elec­tion of the pres­i­dent in 2015.

PHOTO Felix Onig­binde

People erect­ing a 2015 cam­paign bill­board for Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan at the Cen­tral Area District of Abuja re­cently.

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