AAAN AGM: Steve Babaeko, Yomi Benson engage each other in hot debate at manifest night

The ongoing Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) Annual General Meeting (AGM) hit fever pitch during the manifesto night last night as candidates made last minute attempt to woo their colleagues, ahead of the association’s election which holds later today.
Except for the office of the Vice President, all other positions, including that of the President are being contested unopposed. Yet the candidates still took time out to pitch their ideas and plans to the members of the association as a mere election routine. The admen and women responded in kind by making light of the exercise, knowing that the candidates were as good as elected.
Ikechi Odigbo, the incumbent Vice President is the sole candidate for the Presidency. He has promised to encourage inter-agency collaborations and a closer working relationship between the association and the government. Interestingly, the need for inter-agency collaboration has dominated discussions at the AGM.
But the setting was very different when spotlight turned on the office of the Vice President. It is a battle between two of the industry’s top admen. They are Steve Babaeko, Group CEO of X3M Group and incumbent Public Relations Officer of the and Yomi Benson, CEO at Culture Communications.
The two admen have been the only candidates involved in any serious campaign activities from the outset of the AGM, which took off last Thursday. Apart from the usual horse-trading and behind the scene maneuverings, their seriousness for the election have been supported by huge roll up banners at the entrance of the Park Inn by Radisson hotel in Abeokuta announcing their ambitions.
Mr. Benson started his presentation by attempting to position himself as a new voice, offering new paradigm for the association. He pointed out that AAAN EXCO has always been dominated by same faces year after year and that it was time to give others a chance. “If it is about creativity, Steve will win, but it’s not about creativity, it’s about the business of advertising,” he said in an apparent attempt to position himself as better fitted for the job.
But in an attempt to sell his candidacy, he ruffled a few feathers when he took a subtle swipe at the present EXCO headed by Kayode Oluwasona, saying that they have failed to significantly raise the level of the association. That obviously didn’t strike a positive chord with some of his colleagues who reasoned that his assessment of the incumbent leadership was harsh and didn’t reflect the reality on ground.
But if the manifesto night gave any hint about who will likely emerge the Vice President later today, then the momentum favours Babaeko, who spoke expressly about some of the impacts he has made since joining the AAAN EXCO, and that includes reviving the LAIF and bringing back glamour and prestige to the annual event.
Babaeko’s manifesto touched on issues that were very relevant and germane to the success of the association and that includes the APCON reform which has been in the doldrums for years. He also promised to re-equip the AAAN secretariat which at the moment does not reflect the ambition and the essence of the creative industry in Nigeria.
Babaeko also promised to champion inclusiveness and equality in the association by ensuring that the youths and female practitioners are given opportunity to shine in the industry. “So many of our young members have brilliant ideas that can turn our fortune around, but first we have to open the door for them to come in,” he said.
Other candidates on the ballot include Jenkins Alumona, CEO, Strategic Outcomes- Public Relations Officer, Tope Jemerigbe, CEO DKK- Assistant Public Relations Officer and Wale Akintunde Treasurer.
For the Ex-Offico position, six candidates are contesting for five slots. The contestants include Feyi Olubodun, CEO Insight Publicis, Biodun Adefila SO&U, Victor Otabor, Onuorah Moloku, Dr Tunji Olugbodi and Verdant Zeal.


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