The prolonged delay in reconstituting the Advertising Practitioners’ Council of Nigeria’s (APCON) Governing Council has in no small measure put Nigeria’s advertising industry into an indescribable stalemate. It has generated a logjam that has stretched over five years with no seeming hope of restoration in the near future; yet the persistent delay of Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, to constitute a new board for APCON has continued to take its toll on the multi-billion naira industry.
The standpoint of industry stakeholders is that, besides not allowing for effective regulation, absence of a governing council has continued to slow down activities that would have been of rounded benefit to the industry.
Painting a murky picture of the lingering absence of the council at the 35th Annual General Meeting of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OOAN) held virtually, the president, Mr. Emmanuel Ajufo, described the industry as a flock of sheep without a shepherd. “This is because APCON has no council, and this had been going on even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
For Steve Babaeko, president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), advertising without APCON Governing Council is like a flying an aircraft without the control tower. Cataloguing the challenges such prolonged absence of authority poses to the entire ad industry, Babaeko stated, “You find that people now make all kinds of claims, especially in that digital space where people sell all kinds of liquid that they say is good for your libido and all that. They say all of those things, but nobody is checking to validate the claims; those are the things that APCON would fight statutorily. They would say, ‘Look, can you come and give us proof so that we know you are right?’ But APCON Council is not in place, so, they can’t check them.”
“This is where a concerned government would say, ‘let me put APCON Council in place to check all these things.’ The things that young people are drinking today, we don’t know whether it would cause their liver to fail in a couple of years; we don’t know what it is. That’s the dangerous situation we have found ourselves in. APCON tries its best with the Acting Registrar, but the power of APCON is in the Council. So, unless that Governing Council is in place, we won’t achieve anything in this regard,” he added.
The AAAN President stressed further, “Even beyond that, in the advertising industry, a lot of work was done in the APCON reform that would protect the whole industry from onslaught coming from outside and within the country. If the Council is not in place, how do we begin to implement those reforms? Whichever way you slice and dice on this matter, the end result is that the government, without knowing it, is jeopardising the livelihoods of thousands of people, who work within the advertising industry and in the marketing sector.”
Lamenting over the industry’s losses, Babaeko noted “If APCON is not able to do their job and so many agencies fold up, and the health implications of people selling products that are not verified… you don’t have to be a prophet to know how much negative impact it would have on the country as a whole. So, if people begin to lose their jobs because APCON is not there to protect them as an agency, then you are throwing more people into the labour market, as if we don’t have enough unemployment as it is! It is a big challenge for the country.”
It beats the imagination of the advertising practitioners that the Federal Government is foot-dragging in reconstituting a Governing Council for the apex regulatory body, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria whereas other sectors of the economy have their respective councils and the advertising industry had been denied of same for so long.
Severally, the smooth running of the Advertising Practitioners’ Council of Nigeria (APCON) has been hampered intermittently over the years. This advertising control house has come under the hammer of recurring breaches. Varieties of contravention have been infringed upon APCON by successive governments subsequent to the enactment of the law establishing the regulatory body by a preceding administrative era.
Twice at different instances with the commencement of the democratic regime in 1999, APCON had been disowned as an agency of government under the premise that government cannot continue to fund ‘a professional institute’ which APCON was depicted to be.
According to industry bigwigs, it took assiduous representations to government by the then governing council, spearheaded by the late Dr. May Nzeribe and Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi (Chairman and Registrar, respectively) with the support of their contacts in the National Assembly, to secure the reinstatement of APCON as an agency of government.
For 18 months during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the government did not appoint a chairman to constitute the APCON council even though Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi had served out his tenure. After the long wait with APCON immersed in a crisis of leadership, Mr. Udeme Ufot, an advertising chieftain, was appointed the chairman of APCON. The practitioners breathed a sigh of relief but it was short-lived.
Barely four months after the Ufot-led Board was constituted, President Muhammadu Buhari’s blanket dissolution of the boards of agencies, commissions and parastatals dealt a mighty blow on the APCON council and the marketing communications industry. A letter dated July 16, 2015, signed by the then Head of Federal Civil Service, Danladi Kifasi, vacated the council and relinquished its powers to APCON Registrar/CEO.
The stakeholders cried foul as they protested strongly that the dissolution contravened the APCON Act. Objections filled the air.
“APCON council is a regulatory council with professional seats. It should not be treated as a parastatal for political seats,” they complained. This wrong move returned APCON to coma.
Three times, the federal government is believed to have goofed in nominating politicians and non-advertising professionals into the board of the council. The latest controversy was in January last year when the government announced Hon. Jacob Sunday (Chairman), Chief Dayo Abatan, Alosius Okafor, Sani Tulu as the newly appointed APCON Council members; two year after the dissolution of the Udeme APCON Board.
Marketing Edge Award: Eagleserve emerges Young Creative Agency of the Year
Eagleserve Consultants Limited, an Abuja-based brand building and marketing communications firm, has emerged as the winner of the Young Creative Agency of the Year award at the just concluded 2020 Marketing Edge Brands and Advertising Excellence Award at D’Podium International Event Centre, Lagos.
The event, which was organised by Marketing Edge Magazine, a prominent marketing and advertising publication, as a platform to celebrate the best innovative minds in the Nigeria Integrated Marketing Communications industry.
In his welcome address, the publisher/CEO of Marketing Edge, Mr. John Ajayi, described the award as unique, with special attractions organically planned and designed to reboot, restart and re-energise the social, intellectual and entrepreneurial landscape of the Nigeria IMC industry.
‘’We have watched and monitored these individuals and agencies very closely in the last few years and can confidently attest to their market leadership, resilience, excellence and above all landmark achievements in their various sectors,’’ he said.
He added that, ‘’Our resolve to recognise these players and gladiators as well as iconic leaders in the business of brand management and management of brand business was equally informed by the fact that these are the people that have made the industry tick over the years.’’
Speaking while receiving the award, the managing Director of Eagleserve Consultants Limited, Prince Shola Rotimi expressed the company’s profound appreciation to the organisers saying that the honour has affirmed the hard work of the agency making significant impact on the business of its clients.
‘’We feel very great and honoured to have been recognised by Marketing Edge for our contributions to the growth of the Marketing Communication industry. We thank Almighty God for His grace, my team at Eagleserve, you are all wonderful, our clients, we are always indebted to you because you are the reason for our existence, AAAN and APCON, we say a big thank you,’’ he said.
He mentioned that: ‘’This award bears testimony to the fact that our works are now making huge impacts on the businesses we handle for our clients. As an agency, we strive to make creativity our driving force because we realize that the industry is changing and the way to go now is digital, proactive agency should learn how to deploy creativity towards digital.’’
Prince Rotimi reiterated that: ‘’As a company, we would continue to deliver exceptional services and value to our clients’ businesses, and I charged the team to continue delivering on its promise to clients and proffer initiatives that would help establish the agency as a big force in Africa.’’
In his earlier address, the Chairman of the Day, Mr. George Thorpe described the process leading to the selection of Eagleserve Consultants as a product of painstaking search which placed the agency ahead of its peers.
According to him, ‘’We are here tonight to celebrate those who have proven to be a force to reckon with in the field of brand, marketing and advertising in the last one year and those are worthy of Marketing Edge Awards for this year.’’