Raheem Akingbolu

Advertising practitioners in the country have advocated autonomy for the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON). The practitioners, under the aegis of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) and other stakeholders, have also condemned, in strong terms, the alleged appointment 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 is believed to have 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 by Marketing Edge, a wholly marketing communications journal, 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. I hold the view that government has no understanding of what APCON represents. They think it is such a big organisation 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.

In a related development, Chairman of Media Link and past President of Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria, (OAAN), Chief 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.

Akinbobola 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 said.

In his view, former APCON Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer of Prima Garnet, Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi, 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 present a formal 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.