Raheem Akingbolu takes a cursory look at the activities of the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA) in the last six months and how the current leadership of the agency has tried to reposition it for optimum performance
Of all agencies of government in Lagos State, the creation of the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) could be said to have been the most topical. At the twilight of Mr. Bola Tinubu’s administration as governor of the state, the government considered the agency as a solution to what was considered ‘a regime of lawlessness in the outdoor industry’. Perhaps because of the cosmopolitan outlook of the commercial city and its population surge, the regulation of the outdoor sector, appeared cumbersome for the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON). In line with the aspiration to make the state compete with other mega cities of the world, government thus established LASAA to coordinate the activities of the outdoor practitioners.
For practitioners, who had gotten used to the old ways of doing things, the approach of the pioneer Managing Director of the agency, Mr. Makanjuola Alabi, was alien to them and they kicked. Armed with a political will to regulate and allocate sites, Alabi stood his ground and the rest became history. After Alabi, two other people – Mr. Tunji Bello, the current Secretary to Lagos State Government, and Mr. George Noah, a newspaper publisher, were appointed at different times to head the organisation and they both left their positive footprints. Bello was the second managing director of the agency but he spent less than a year before he was appointed a commissioner by former Governor Babatunde Fashola. During his brief tenure, he convoked of a stakeholders’ forum where he assured the outdoor agency owners that their businesses would be protected. Noah, who took over from Bello, was able to bring the agency closer to Out-of-Home practitioners, who once dreaded LASAA as a body created by government to ruin their businesses. He was said to have operated a door policy which gave room for periodic stakeholders’ engagement.
With the assumption of office of the current Governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, a thoroughbred public administrator and accountant, many innovations were infused to the system. Sources close to the governor revealed to THISDAY that Ambode confided in some of his closest allies on the need to get tested hands and disciplined individuals to head strategic agencies of government to improve on the state’s internal revenue generation. That was how the name of the current MD of the agency, Mr. Mobolaji Sanusi, a lawyer and columnist, came up and he was appointed six months ago. Six months after, Sanusi and his team have not only consolidated on what was met on ground, they have raised the bar on all fronts.
Few days ago, this reporter went to the agency on a fact finding mission and discovered that a lot of steps had been taken to prune down the excessive spending of the agency. This, according to sources was necessitated by the need to cut cost and respond to current economic crisis bedeviling the nation. As a result of this the new Managing Director, promptly reduced the departments in the Agency from seventeen to seven, with just three units. And as a leader, who wanted to lead by example, Sanusi was said to have jolted many staff when he began to get to office before 8am every day. For those, who were used to walking in around 9am or 10am, the early resumption of the CEO sent a message of change. He followed this up by creating a day for sanitation exercise.
With this approach, the new MD succeeded in improving on staff ethics, attitude and approach to work. It also rubs on positively on the improvement of staff appearance, outlook and dress code. The sanitation day, which commenced towards the tail end of last year, has also impacted well on the operation of the agency considering the fact that it has helped in the identification of poster and banner black spot. It has also helped to develop zero tolerance for indiscriminate pasting of posters. For effectiveness, all staff allocated official vehicles were assigned work areas within their local government of residence; to identify areas of visual blight with respect to signage.
Among other reformative approaches, the Agency’s internal processes have been improved while a seamless business processes have been put in place to bring about improved service delivery, revenue generation and debt recovery. For easy accessibility, the agency’s branch offices have been realigned. Internally, Sanusi and his team are said to have invigorated the procurement office.
To bridge the gap between stakeholders and the agency, LASAA met members of the Outdoor Advertisers Association of Nigeria (OAAN) on Friday, October 15, 2015. At the meeting, relevant issues were discussed towards ensuring harmonious relationship between both parties. Two weeks after, precisely on October 28, 2015, the agency organised a parley with the Brand Journalists’ Association of Nigeria (BJAN), where the new helmsman briefed the media on his plans to breathe a fresh air into the agency.
Meanwhile, as part of the moves to make the agency more interactive, Sanusi and his team increased LASAA’s social media engagement. This explains why the Agency has consistently
engaged the public on its various social media platforms, especially facebook and twitter. In a way, this and other customer relation approaches have improved the agency’s customer service delivery and enhances professionalism.
In a country where sustainability is always a challenge, pundits believe that if the current leadership of the agency can maintain the track, the activities of LASAA can be a major boost to the Ambode’s administration in Lagos State.