New LASAA MD and Challenges Ahead

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Adedamola Docemo

Raheem Akingbolu writes on the need for the new helmsman at the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency to change the perception about the agency through stakeholders’ engagement and friendly operational models.

Since its establishment, the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA), has always been viewed as one agency of government that was created to frustrate advertising practitioners in the out-of-home sub sector of the industry.

As a result of this, there hasn’t been mutual relationship between the successive managing director of LASAA and the leadership of the Outdoor Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria (OAAN). The consequence of this is that the industry has continued to suffer.

In view of the determination of the larger advertising family in Nigeria to reposition the industry in 2020, the timing of the leadership change at LASAA can be said to be appropriate and good for industry growth. However, close to two months after the appointment of Mr. Adedamola Docemo as MD, little or nothing has been recorded to show that the new man indeed understands the industry.
Docemo replaced Mobolaji Sanusi, erstwhile Managing Director of the agency, who was sack at the twilight of last year.

Tasks ahead
Among other steps, the new MD has been advised by many stakeholders to initiate genuine engagement that would allow practitioners and regulators to address salient issues.

Though previous leaders in the agency, especially under Messrs. Tunji Bello and George Noah initiated similar engagements but they didn’t achieve expected result. If Docemo gets it right and gives LASAA human face that it requires, his name will be written in gold as the first person who lead the agency without rancor. Bello’s tenure was short and so difficult to rate but it was war all through between OAAN members and the agency, while Makanjuola Alabi, George Noah and Mobolaji Sanusi were in charge.
Perhaps of major concern to practitioners is the need for Docemo to quickly settle down and begin to take steps at ‘righting’ the wrongs of the past, so as to bring back the lost glory of a sector, once considered the juiciest among the four media channels of advertising.

For instance, the issues of debts being owed members by the agency and the ‘vacant site regime’ top the list of some of the demands, stakeholders would want the new helmsman given utmost priority.

From anywhere one chooses to look at the industry, it has not been a jolly ride for the nation’s outdoor advertising sector in recent times. For instance, since year 2016, when it attracted a spend of N28.8billion, representing a 35 percent spend of the N91billion of the total advertising spend for the year, it has been a steady decline in fortune for this once boisterous sector.

According to a recent report, published by Mediafact, in 2017, the revenue for the sector dropped from N28.8 billion, recorded in the previous year, to N24.6 billion; representing a 28 percent of the N88 billion of the total ad spend of that year. This was to drop further in 2018, to N20.7 billion, representing 26 percent of the total N81 billion spend, an indication of a sector, going through trying times.

Interestingly, stakeholders, especially practitioners believe some of the challenges are induced by hostile business environment and the not-too-friendly policies of the state.
But with the country’s 60th anniversary around the corner, the president of the Outdoor Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria (OAAN), Mr. Emma Ajufo believes things are looking good for the industry. While congratulating the new LASAA MD, he called on federal government to quickly constitute the board of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria.
“What will gladden our hearts more than any other thing is for government to give us a council. The Industry is truly suffering as a result of this.

Similarly, 2020 is a significant year for Nigeria as the Country will turn 60. I hope that the Advertising industry will come together to partner with government to project our country positively to the world at large.
In our Sector of the Advertising industry, the first part of our research we promised has started. The outcome of the research should come out early in the new year.

“Our internal cohesion is getting better. New members are coming in too. We have also resolved with JC Decaux as you would have probably known. So, things are looking up for the better for our Association.
We strongly believe that despite the challenges of the country, the Advertising Industry in general and our Sector in particular will continue to witness growth,” Ajufo stated.

While thanking OAAN members for their support so far, he encouraged them to be steadfast and continue on the part of professionalism.

OAAN’s Hands of Fellowship
In what looked like a positive signal, the leadership of OAAN has promised to work with the new MD to lift the industry. Congratulating the new LASAA boss, Ajufo expressed the readiness of members of the association to work with him.
Ajufo however expressed shock at the announcement, terminating the appointment of the erstwhile LASAA boss, arguing that he had thought the former LASAA boss had been given a second term, having been allowed to stay that long, after the expiration of his tenure.

The OAAN boss also expressed regrets that the leadership of the association was not able to implement some of the agreements, brokered with the former LASAA chief executive before the sack.
One of such agreements, Ajufo stated, was the vacant site regime, which the former LASAA boss promised to commence since July, last year.

“In fact the day before the news broke out, I sent him a text message reminding him about his promise to start the vacant site regime that he promised to do since about July or so this year, when I led my executive team to visit him.

“Mr. Sanusi will be remembered for giving the Industry the best rate discount in the history of LASAA. The icing would have been the vacant site regime which we all agreed to, but has not been officially implemented,” he added.

He also expressed regrets that the former LASAA boss never upheld the agreement the association had with his predecessor in office over the campaign its members ran in the build- up to 2015 elections.

Ajufo, however expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved by the agency’s new helmsman.
The OAAN boss also believes the appointment of Docemo, an advertising practitioner, no doubt, put him in good stead to understand the industry better.

The association’s Vice President, Mr. Babatunde Ogala would want the new LASAA boss to hit the ground running.
According to him, there is the need to revisit some of the policies of the last regime, which, he argued, had constituted some form of encumbrance to the growth of the sector in Lagos.

“There is that need to make outdoor advertising services affordable. The way things are now, apart from moving such services beyond the reach of small and medium scale businesses, a lot of brands, that used to spend so much on outdoor signages are beginning to look for much cheaper alternatives.

“Meanwhile all these are induced by government regulations that insist practitioners should be paying for their vacant billboards. And the question we’ve been asking is, how can one be paying for a billboard that is generating revenue for you. I think what you pay to government should be from the money you’ve made from that site, and if the site is vacant, it will be unfair to ask people to begin to pay,” he stated.

Ogala also dismissed the claim that attributed the failing fortunes of the sector to the advent of digital platforms.

The Man Docemo
Prior to his appointment, Docemo was the CEO of Viadotech Limited, a frontline player in the Outdoor Advertising, Telecommunications and Engineering sectors in Nigeria.

A graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Yaba College of Technology, Lagos with a Postgraduate Diploma from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Osun State, Docemo had also worked at various times with Bell & Bell Telecommunications Limited, Private Networks Nigeria Limited and Emotion Advertising Limited.