Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi
A media watchdog, Network for Responsible Communication (NRC), Sunday demanded the immediate resignation of the Chairman of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi, over conflict of interest.
The group made the call for Akinwunmi’s resignation taking cognisance of the ongoing altercation between local and international advertising agencies in the country, which it said, had taken a new turn.
In a statement by NRC’s Executive Director, Ms. Louisa Aguiyi-Ironsi, the group said it was tantamount to an incestuous relationship for Akinwunmi, who founded Prima Garnet Advertising and serves as its chief executive to be the chairman of APCON, which regulates advertising practice.
According to the statement, since Nigerians would not tolerate a situation where chief executive of a commercial bank would double as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), it is odd for Akinwunmi to retain both positions simultaneously.
The statement stated: “It is like someone being a player and the referee in the same game. The conflict of interest has inevitably led to gross abuse of abuse and the obvious deep implications for the Nigerian advertising industry which has lost the trust of both the business community and Nigerian citizens.”
The statement accused local agencies of professional and unethical conduct, which resulted in the death of many media establishments and poor financial state of those still in existence.
The group also remarked that many chief executives of local advertising agencies had refused to remit payment to media organs after being paid by clients. These showy executives, who live large like the Joneses, would rather buy luxury and swanky homes overseas, while owing staff salaries for several months.
The statement recalled the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) had at several times blacklisted local agencies for unbearable debts.
It added that the unethical acts, coupled with low human capacity and poor technology, have caused many firms like the Nigerian Breweries plc with high advertising budgets to start using agencies in such developing nations as South Africa, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to market their products, services and corporate reputations.
“Worse, a lot of banks are now producing their producing their marketing communication messages internally”, it stated. The APCON leadership could not initiate a clean-up campaign of the local agencies because of the conflict of interest”.
“The resolution of this conflict is the first step in the journey to the restoration of trust in the local advert industry which is at an all-time low currently. It is imperative that Akinwunmi resign urgently as APCON and replaced by someone with no invested interest in the industry”.