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‘Why government must appoint professional as APCON chair’

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President Muhammadu Buhari

In December last year when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed 209 board chairmen and 1,258 members of government-owned agencies and parastatals, advertising bodies raised alarm following the appointment of a politician and non-professional and adverting practitioner, Hon. Jacob Sunday, as chair of Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON). It shunned the laws governing the council and practitioners in its decision.

The appointment was a big shock to industry stakeholders, who expected the Presidency to choose one of the top shots in the advertising industry to head APCON. When Buhari dissolved the council two years ago, stakeholders raised eye-brows and argued that the decision would hamper proposed advertising reforms, which were aimed at ensuring compliance with codes of advertising practice and rules of engagement for foreign investors.

Practitioners described the appointment of Sunday, as an illegal move by the government, which it said failed to understand the important role the industry plays and the contributions it makes to the growth of the economy.

Among other things, the advertising law states, “The Nigerian Advertising Laws, Rules and Regulations Act 55 of 1988 (as amended) stated that the council shall consist of a chairman who shall be a distinguished fellow of the profession to be appointment by the President; Seven persons to be appointed by the Minister, one of whom shall be from the ministry and others from among other interests in the field of advertising which, in the opinion of the minister, ought to be adequately represented”.

The council comprises of Advertising Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), Association of Advertising Agencies in Nigeria (AAAN), Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN), Federal Ministry of Information and Federal Ministry of Health as well as well as universities/polytechnics offering advertising-related courses.

The CEO of X3M Ideas, Mr. Steve Babaeko, told The Guardian, “AAAN made their position very clear as regards this through the president’s media adviser, Femi Adesina. The government has allowed APCON to be without a chairman for long and now they are making it worse by appointing a wrong candidate for the post. Its like allowing the industry to go rudderless.”

In 2014, Heads of Advertising Sectorial Groups (HASG) of APCON rejected a similar appointment, when Prince Ngozi Emioma was nominated by former President Goodluck Jonathan as APCON chairman.

“The government itself set up this law, stating that the chairman of the council must be a fellow of the profession, but the government ends up flouting its own directive,” Babaeko said. “Honestly, at the moment we are a little bit confused. If this government is serious about creating jobs, it cannot leave out the only industry that is employing thousands of people to just lay waste.”

Also, President of AAAN, Mr. Kayode Oluwasona, said, “The people responsible for ensuring continuity are not enforcing this. This means that somebody does not understand the importance of the industry. The implication of not having an APCON registrar was clearly seen during the last elections. With no regulatory body, there were all sorts of unregulated campaigns.”

A few weeks ago, government inaugurated over 200 government agencies and parastatals and left out APCON. Practitioners see the development as a plus and that government has at last seen reason with their protest in its appointment of a non-professional and practitioner of advertising. What remains to be determined is for how long would the council remain without a chair? Practitioners appear to be helpless, as they can only but wait for government’s next move. They have, however, called on government to do the needful, arguing that not having an active regulatory body may have negative effect on electoral campaigns and processes come 2019.


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