War of the regulators

…as APCON, LASAA on a collision course

Acold war seems to be brewing in Nigeria’s advertising industry, and this is not unconnected with the power tussle between the Advertising Practitioners’ Council of Nigeria (APCON), a body set up by the federal government to regulate advertising practice in the country and the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA), a Lagos State agency in charge of outdoor advertising practice in the state, over issues that bother on regulation.

Established in 2006 to regulate and control outdoor advertising  in the state, not  a few believe that LASAA had, in recent times, been attempting to appropriate some of the statutory functions of APCON, in the  regulation of communication contents in outdoor advertisement structures and signages.

For instance,  while the laws establishing LASAA are crystal clear on issues pertaining to regulation and control of signages and outdoor structures in Lagos,  no aspect of that law however  confers on LASAA the absolute powers to regulate or control communication contents and messages on  such signages.

That responsibility strictly falls under the purview of APCON, the regulatory agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria. In a chat with Brands & Marketing on the issue, a marketing communications expert, Mr. Tunde Awomoolo, believes there ought not to be controversies regarding the functions of the two regulatory bodies. According to him, Decree No. 55 1988  establishing APCON, is quite unequivocal about the agency that, ordinarily, should carry out the responsibilities of regulating and controlling advertising and advertisement businesses.

He added that the apex regulatory body had been able to diligently adhere strictly to these statutory responsibilities since its creation in 1990. Recently, APCON’s attempt at bringing sanity to the system and protect members of the public, from unwholesome advertising communications was said to have been resisted by the leadership of the state regulatory agency, insisting that the  federal agency had encroached  its regulatory territory; a claim  APCON leadership has since refuted.

For instance, Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of APCON, Alhaji Bello Garba Kankarofi attributed  the aggressive posturing of  the new headship of LASAA, Mr. Mobolaji Sanusi, to  his poor understanding and knowledge of APCON laws and regulations. Kankarofi decried the latest action of the  LASAA boss whom he said had been holding his present position in deliberate contravention and abeyance of the Nigerian constitution setting up APCON, which requires a marketing communication professional for the LASAA job.

The APCON Registrar disclosed that  Part IV privileges of Registered persons and Offences by Unregistered Persons (Advertising Practitioners (Registration etc) Act C Cap 7 LFN 1990 (Act Cap A7 LFN 2004 insists on appointment that should not be held by an unregistered professional.

According to him, the Managing Director of LASAA, is an unregistered advertising professional as stated by this Act, and therefore not suitable to head the agency  he presently occupies, by virtue of being a public servant with salaries and emoluments.

He believes that  some other members of Sanusi’s management team equally runs foul of the law because they are not APCON certified. The Registrar expressed dismay that the incumbent LASAA Chief Executive had not bothered to register with APCON,  in spite of the fact that all his predecessors actually did this while they occupying same office.

“APCON never had issues with past chief executive officers of LASAA. From the inception of the agency by Makanjuola Alabi, to Hon. Tunji Bello and George Noah, the immediate predecessor of the current managing director, they have always complied with APCON laws by being registered upon assumption of office. We have written several letters to Mr Mobolaji Sanusi to register but he has refused.

“In the case of Tunji Bello, he was LASAA boss for a brief period, even at that, he co-operated and complied very well with APCON, we have all chief executive officers of outdoor signage agencies across the different states of the Nigerian federation as registered members”. Kankarofi stated.

The APCON Registrar however  enjoined the  LASAA boss to heed APCON letters requesting that he perfects his membership registration with APCON before the long arm of the law catches up with him as APCON may be forced to evoke its powers over his position.

However, mum was the word  at LASAA, as efforts to confirm some of these allegations concerning the  LASAA boss, as of press time, proved abortive.  A source at the agency, who would not want his name in print, refuted the Registrar’s claim, insisting that no letters were written to the agency boss by APCON, asking the LASAA boss to come and register.