Area view of Ibadan
Raheem Akingbolu writes on the effort being made by Oyo State Government through its newly created Oyo State Signage and Advertisement Agency (OYSAA) to rid the state of poor outdoor structures
s a city, Ibadan was once a dream destination for millions of young graduates, business owners and politicians as a result of its serene atmosphere and beautiful environment. The foundation for the city’s aesthetic outlook was laid by the administration of the late sage - Chief Obafemi Awolowo but over time, the value, for which Ibadan was being touted as one of the nation’s best city to live eroded and gave way to dilapidated structures. This ugly trend in the ancient city is also noticeable in the arrays of dilapidated outdoor structures along the roads, which has turned it to the opposite of what it used to be.
Worried over the poor outlook of the state, the Oyo State House of Assembly in April passed a bill that established the Oyo State Signage and Advertisement Agency (OYSAA) into law. From the day that the bill was passed into law, it became an offence to practise outdoor advertising in Oyo State without being duly registered by the agency or comply with its laid-down rule for practice.
After the necessary framework and modus operandi, the newly-established agency commenced the demolition of dilapidated and broken down billboards as well as removal of torn posters on major roads across Ibadan, the state capital.
Prior to the stakeholders’ forum held in Ibadan two weeks ago, to deliberate on the ongoing sanitisation exercise of the outdoor sub-sector, in Oyo State, the director general of the agency, Mr. Yinka Adepoju, conducted journalists and a handful of advertising practitioners round some parts of Ibadan to give them first hand information about how dilapidated out-of-home structures wrecked the once beautiful city.
From Mokola to Challenge junction, Onireke to Agbowo, down to Iwo Road and Gate, the tour revealed the ugly side of Ibadan, with clustered billboards, dilapidated structures and filthy outlook. Aside the fact that the bad structures constituted a nuisance, some of them have become death traps for passersby.
According to Adepoju, the state government was determined to come out with a new framework that would give birth to responsible advertising practice that would give value to both the brand owners and the society.
“In Ibadan, Oyo, Ogbomoso and many other places, outdoor structures are poorly placed to the extent that one might be prompted to ask if owners of some sites had the interest of their clients in mind. For instance, in a situation whereby the structures are clustered, the essence of placing any one of them would have been defeated because there will be no concentration wherever many products are smiling at consumers at the same time in the same location,”
Speaking further, the DG said it was apparent that some outdoor ad practitioners are not doing the business the way they should, while brand owners are not helping matters either, adding that most of the outdoor advertisements and signages the agency met on ground were not professionally done, while some were ill-maintained.
“Our major goal is to transform the state in such a way that it will attract investors, advertisers and, in addition, promote economic activities with a view to creating a win-win situation for regulators and operators in Oyo State,” he added.
Speaking at the stakeholders’ forum, he allayed fears in some quarters that the agency was set up to put some outdoor practitioners out of business, expressing his agency’s readiness to partner with ad practitioners for a better environment, as long as they are ready to play by the rules. He stated that though the agency had pulled down over 1,000 billboards in the first phase of its operation in the city of Ibadan, he however assured that those whose billboards are in tune with the required standards would not be touched.The new DG also expressed his determination to professionalise outdoor practice in the state. According to him, the agency would no longer allow non-registered members to practise outdoor advertising in the state.
“As a fellow of the advertising practice, it would be wrong of me and highly unprofessional too, to allow a non-registered member to practice outdoor advertising in the state,” he stated. Interestingly, not a few at the forum agreed with the agency’s DG, in his task of making the state’s streets friendlier. For instance, while commending the agency’s efforts at sanitising the state’s outdoor space, the Managing Director of TBWA, Mr. Kelechi Nwosu, advised operators in the state to make outdoor ad control in the state a self regulatory effort.
He believes with a self-regulatory system put in place both the regulatory body and the operators would be able to take outdoor advertising in the state to a new level.
While noting the importance of the agency’s efforts, another operator at the forum, Mr. Adewumi Aluko, however, counselled that the agency should continue to dialogue with stakeholders on a regular basis, in order to fashion out strategies at enhancing the aesthetics of the city.