By Kasie Abone
The Advertising Practitioners Council off Nigeria (APCON) is now set to cage the activities of LASSA in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, Lagos.
This is sequel to the provisions of the Act establishing APCON which makes it the supreme regulatory body as far as advertising industry is concern in the country.
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 sub-titled (Appointment not to be held by unregistered person:- “subject to the provisions of this Act, no person, not being registered in accordance with this Act, shall be entitled to hold any appointment in the public service of the Federation or of a State in any public or private establishment, body or institution, if the holding of such appointment involves the performance by him in Nigeria of any act pertaining to the profession for gain”.
This is part of the law guiding advertising practice in Nigeria. By the powers conferred on APCON as the only advertising regulatory body empowered by a federal government Act, whoever operates outside the provisions of the law invites the anger of the body. But when such a person who in the first instance was allegedly not qualified to do the business of advertising in Nigeria as stipulated by law now begins to question and accuse the regulatory body of encroaching on territories, that is where there is serious problem. And to the advertising industry and its stakeholders, the development calls for concern if nothing is done to check such impunity spreading across other states of the federation.
Specifically, not only that the current Managing Director of LASSA, Mr. Mobolaji Sanusi, according to APCON provision is not qualified to sit atop a regulatory agency like LASSA except he complies by the rules by doing the needful; registering with APCON as a practitioner on assumption of office. Not only has he shunned every letter written to him by APCON to that effect but he has rolled up his sleeves to throw punches as he challenges APCON on its statutory responsibilities.
What is currently brewing is that the LASAA boss is tackling APCON over control and regulations of advertising and advertisement businesses in the state thereby prompting APCON to contemplate deploying its full regulatory and enforcement powers on the state signage outfit.
Established in 2006, LASSA responsibility was to regulate and control outdoor advertising and signage displays in the state with a view to modernize, standardize and regulate streetscape so as to benefit the state citizens and visitors alike, a responsibility that continuously pitched the agency against practitioners over the years. The recent attempt to ruffle powerful feathers by arrogating itself albeit illegally the statutory roles of APCON by regulating communication contents in outdoor advertisement structures and signage is set to generate concern if nothing is done about it.
There is no aspect of the state’s agency laws which conferred it with absolute powers to regulate or control communication contents and messages on signage, structures or streetscape. Rather, the powers to regulate and control advertising and advertisement businesses are conferred on APCON, the regulatory agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
According to Decree No. 55 1988 (Registration etc) establishing APCON, the body is powered to regulate and control advertising and advertisement businesses in all aspects and ramifications. Since its creation in 1990, APCON has faithfully, diligently and dutifully kept to these statutory responsibilities and have greatly guaranteed sanity, decency and ethical practices in the industry.
However, LASAA, a state agency set up through an edict has lately threatened to checkmate APCON which derives its regulatory powers through an Act of Parliament. This, the agency has done by impeding APCON in regulating clusters, unwholesome communications messages that were unethical and non-vetted by small business owners in the metropolis.
Specifically, APCON which has hitherto been hugely bogged down by the challenges posed by advertising agencies and multinational businesses has now turned its searchlight on small scale businesses which inscribe deceitful and unwholesome messages on their signage and outdoor structures in Lagos metropolis.
It is an attempt to ensure that these business operators obey regulatory rules that LASAA has suddenly jumped into the fray insisting albeit illegally that the federal regulatory agency has been encroaching on its regulatory territory. THISDAY efforts to get the LASSA boss to state his side of the story was unfruitful. Not only did he not answer calls but also failed to respond to the SMS sent to him.
However, the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of APCON, Alhaji Bello Garba Kankarofi said the aggressive posturing by the new headship of LASAA, Mr. Mobolaji Sanusi was informed by his little understanding and knowledge of APCON laws and regulations.
He lamented the latest LASAA boss posturing of holding his present position in deliberate contravention and abeyance of the Nigerian constitution setting up APCON.
He noted that being an unregistered advertising professional APCON Act made LASSA boss unqualified to head the agency as he occupies the public office by virtue of being a public servant with salaries and emoluments.
The registrar pointed out that previous LASSA helmsmen had always registered and complied with APCON rules upon assumption of office but wondered why the current chief executive officer of LASAA has remained adamant and recalcitrant in obeying the laws of the land despite claiming to be a lawyer and a journalist. He stated that APCON has written several letters to Sanusi to register with the council as the constitution dictates but that he has ignored this advice.
“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 past Managing Director, they have always complied with APCON laws by registering 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 chief executive officers of outdoor signage agencies across the federation as registered members”. Kankarofi stated that the current myopia by LASAA boss is due to his being a non-registered member of APCON as the regulatory body is in no way encroaching on his boundaries.
He stated that what the council has just initiated in Lagos State has long being in operation in other states of the federation and yet none of the agencies in charge of outdoor advertising businesses in the states have objected nor resisted. He however counselled Sanusi to go and study the APCON laws and desist from his hallucinatory postures.
Besides, he 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.