APCON Council: Practitioners Resolve to Meet Buhari

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Five years after the dissolution of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), top stakeholders in the industry have unanimously agreed to approach President Muhammadu Buhari on the need for urgent re-constitution of APCON council in view of the importance of effective communication to the growth of the nation’s economy.

Leading discussion at the maiden National Advertising Conference initiated by APCON, in Abuja, Chairman, STB McCANN, Sir Steve Omojafor, said after all efforts to appeal to relevant authorities to impress the need for re-constitution have failed, stakeholders in the industry may not have any option but to approach President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said: “There may be need for us to change our approach and strategy in growing the industry and attracting government recognition and patronage. The issue of APCON council has been on for years without making headway, I think time has come for us to go to the president and table before him what we are losing as a country by not having APCON council,”

Omojafor, expressed concern over the less attention government was paying to the industry and suggested the idea of adopting self-regulatory approach to grow the industry.

On the necessity for M&As in the industry, the senior practitioner said the industry cannot achieve much with small agencies.
“Agencies should find areas of collaborations to play big in the market”, he said.

Meanwhile, the Guest Speaker at the event and a former APCON Chairman, Lolu Akinwunmi, who delivered a paper on the theme; ‘Advertising in the Post Digital Age: The Profession, The Business and Nigeria’s socio-economic Development’, had earlier called for immediate reconstitution of APCON council as the apex advertising body has many roles to play in the economic growth.

“It was inconceivable that last chairman of APCON was in 2015 and he served a few months before Buhari administration scrapped all boards of parastatals including APCON. Sadly, APCON has been running without a council since then”

He told government that APCON plays major roles in ensuring that offensive communication is not shared in the public space. APCON also supervises the programmes in higher institutions and determines and registers higher institutions and practitioners.

Akinwunmi, hopes that government resolves what is holding it in appointing the board for APCON to allow the industry function effectively.
The market communication practitioner who took a holistic view of the industry also noted that globally, businesses and professions including advertising industry are facing challenges and more so in Nigeria as a developing country. “Most of the challenges are related to the profession while others are of general interest”

Some of the challenges are poor economy, government policies and regulations, multiple taxations, poor and inadequate human resource, lack of research by agencies, inadequate capitalization, corruption and industry debt which is rising.

On poor capitalisation, he said told the audience that this means that agencies cannot adequately attract right talents and compete with foreign agencies that invest in Nigeria. “Many investors will not like to touch agencies who are inadequately capitalised”, he said.
What appeared like the peak of the first day of the conference was the panel discussion where top practitioners, drawn from various sectoral bodies took critical self-assessment of the profession with far-reaching suggestions to tackle the numerous challenges confronting the industry.

The solutions include: urgent re-constitution of APCON council, adequate capitalisation of agencies in the industry, Mergers and Acquisitions to guarantee bigger firms and collaborations within the multi-billion Naira industry.

Also speaking at the event, CEO of APCON, Ijedi Iyoha appealed for more perceptive support, encouragement and partnership of various levels of government with the private sector in the advertising business.

“The advertising profession is essential bridge which requires no dichotomy between public and private sector. The intensification of promotional policies by government for this profession will translate to immeasurable boost in the economy,” she said.
Iyoha said Nigeria is a destination to reckon with in investment in Africa. “We have the desired market for every business and this market comes the need for advertising”.

She underscored the contribution of advertising to economic growth, stating that the advertising brings positive balance in dealing with nations and people. She hoped the conference with the theme: Advertising in the Post Digital Age: The Profession, The Business and Nigeria’s socio-economic Development’ will come up with solutions for the industry.

Leading the discussion on the topic, Akinwunmi, called for immediate reconstitution of APCON council as the apex advertising body has many roles to play in the economic growth.

“It was inconceivable that last chairman of APCON was in 2015 and he served a few months before Buhari administration scrapped all boards of parastatals including APCON. Sadly, APCON has been running without a council since then”

He told government that APCON plays major roles in ensuring that offensive communication is not shared in the public space. APCON also supervises the programmes in higher institutions and determines and registers higher institutions and practitioners.

Akinwunmi hopes that government resolves what was holding it in appointing the board for APCON to allow the industry function effectively.

The market communication practitioner who took a holistic view of the industry also noted that globally, businesses and professions including advertising industry are facing challenges and more so in Nigeria as a developing country.
“Most of the challenges are related to the profession while others are of general interest”

Some of the challenges are poor economy, government policies and regulations, multiple taxations, poor and inadequate human resource, lack of research by agencies, inadequate capitalisation, corruption and industry debt which is rising.

On poor capitalisation, Akinwunmi told the audience that this means that agencies cannot adequately attract right talents and compete with foreign agencies that invest in Nigeria. “Many investors will not like to touch agencies who are inadequately capitalised”, he said.
During the panel discussion, Steve Babaeko of X3M Ideas said APCON without a council is like flying aircraft with control tower. Believing that the advertising industry can operate like the banking industry in terms of tenure of CEOs and capitalisation which could encourage M&As, he said the industry needs internal self-regulation.

Other members of the panel including Lanre Adisa of Noah’s Ark; Bunmi Oke, former president of AAAN and Femi Adelusi of MIPAN endorsed the idea of self-regulation in the face of government lethargy towards the industry.

In his speech, the minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed who was represented by his Permanent Secretary, Grace Ekpe appealed the advertisers to always make national interest paramount in their undertaking. He advised that the Code of advertising ethics should not be taken lightly.

She said in branding and in any other form of advertising, “we must be mindful of our diversity and show respect to others who may be different from us in terms of their ethnicity, religion and political beliefs

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