Advertising practitioners under the aegis of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), and retired veterans have condemned in strong terms the alleged appointment or nomination of non advertising and marketing practitioners into the new board of Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), a regulatory agency of government.
Condemning the federal government’s action on the new council members as released last week, top Nigerian advertising practitioners said the exercise was in clear breach of the Federal Act of the parliament setting up the institution, insisting that government should not be seen to be flouting the constitution of the country.
The Federal Government again goofed for the third consecutive times as it announced names of politicians and non advertising professionals as nominees for the yet to be reconstituted council which had been delayed for over two years now.
The newly appointed APCON council members are Hon. Jacob Sunday (Chairman), Chief Dayo Abatan, Aloysius Okafor, Sani Tulu, Akor Sunday, Ismaila Umar Sifawa and Murtala Adamu Atiku.
The appointment is contrary to the APCON law which demands that council members must be fellows of the regulatory body.
The Nigerian Advertising Laws, Rules and Regulations Act 55 of 1988 (as amended), states that a chairman, who should be appointed by the President, shall be a distinguished fellow of the profession.
Also, seven persons are to be appointed by the minister, one of whom shall be from the Ministry of Information and the rest from among other interests in advertising, which in the opinion of the minister, ought to be adequately represented.
In a swift reaction to the names of the announced nominees, top advertising practitioners flayed the federal government decision, insisting that the attempt to once again foist non advertising practitioners on the regulatory body would be greatly resisted.
Indeed, a check and opinion polls conducted recently on the appointment revealed a general angst and bitterness by the practitioners who insist that it was about time all industry stakeholders come together to seek autonomy of APCON from the shackles of the federal government, noting such was the only way to make the regulatory agency truly autonomous like the Nigerian Medical Association, ICAN and NIPR.
In his opinion, renowned advertising practitioner and Chairman Troyka Group, Mr. Biodun Shobanjo, said the incessant flouting of APCON rules by the Federal Government is unwarranted, noting that such exercise is an affront on the constitution of the country.
He, however, observed that the only way to curb this is to free APCON from the financial apron strings of the federal government.
His words: “As it is often said, he who pays the piper dictates the tune. For as long as the government continues to fund APCON, so long will it continue to appoint politicians and whomsoever or assume the right to meddle in the affairs of APCON. Except APCON is able to fund itself, this nonsense and illegality will continue.”
Continuing, the advertising guru said, “I hold the view that government has no understanding of what APCON represents. They think it is such a big organization that can provide avenue for its board to throw some weight around and possibly do some chopping.”
In a similar vein, Chairman of STB McCann, Sir Steve Omojafor, frowned at the new list of APCON nominees, saying that the incessant flouting of the APCON laws by the federal government must be resisted.
He stated that as has always been done, all practitioners and stakeholders, either serving or retired should be ready to join a protest to the government in reversing this appointment.
“We shall resist the new nominees as announced. There is nothing wrong if all of us, including those of us on retirement and those serving to come out now and lead a protest delegate with the Hon. Minister of Communication, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.”
Besides, he said there should be conscious stakeholder engagements, to lobby government through the National Assembly with a view to getting the APCON become fully autonomous.
Sir Steve Omojaform, former Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, lamented that as long as APCON collects yearly subvention from the government, it shall continue to remain a lackey on government political chess board.
In a related development, Chairman of Media Link and past President of Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria, (OAAN), Cheif Foluso Babu Akinbobola, said it is a great disservice to government’s original intention in setting up APCON as a regulatory agency with statutory rules on council membership and yet the same federal government will turn around flouting its laws.
Chief Akinbobola who echoed the same views as others insisted that the recent nominees must be prevented from being inaugurated by the Honourable Minister as their appointment bothers on illegality.
“Why should government continue to be unfair to itself.? The APCON Council was set up as a regulatory body to oversee some professional groups; so how come the same government is bringing non practitioners to be on board the council,? he queried.
The veteran outdoor practitioner, however, pleaded with other stakeholders to join hands so that APCON can be finally rescued from the jaws of governmental bureaucracy. He stated that the council does not need the stipends from government as it can safely self fund its operations to ensure there is quality and standardized regulatory environment.
In his own view, Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi, former APCON Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer of Prima Garnet said the advertising sectoral groups should be able to tackle government on the appointment of non advertising professionals to the APCON council.
He stated that although this is not the first time the government would make such mistake, but was of the view that the error should be corrected once and for all.
Contacted on moves being made by the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), on the issue, Group Chief Executive Officer of Centerspread, Mr. Kola Ayanwale and Chairman Government Relations Liason Committee said the association in conjunction with other stakeholders would today Tuesday 2nd January 2018 present a former protest letter in respect of the announcement of nominees for the new APCON Council to the Minister in Abuja.
He stated that the so called appointment is illegal, null and void and of no effect, disclosing that what was purportedly announced was in clear contradiction of the original list submitted to the federal government for a long period now.
Mr. Ayanwale, a seasoned advertising practitioner stated that no stone would be left unturned to get the so called appointment reversed as advertising is a specialized field that can only be regulated by the initiated.
Meanwhile, special investigation into the matter revealed that the new nominees names were compiled and announced without any inputs by the Honourable Minister of Information, whom we reliably gathered was deeply upset and miffed by government’s self inflicted embarrassment and slip. The Minister was said to have been particularly saddened for being sidelined on an issue that falls exclusively within the purview of his ministerial jurisdiction.
A top government source revealed that “The Hon. Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed is upset. He is unhappy over the slip because he has the original list that has long being submitted and could not believe how this illegal new list surfaced in the presidency”, the source disclosed.
Probed further, he said the idea of a protest by the advertising practitioners themselves over this unsavory development would not be a bad one as the Hon. Minister will be willing to listen to the stakeholders and take up the case with the presidency accordingly.