Fight For Your Right_ Shobanjo tells OAAN
The annual OAAN Poster Award 2016 has come and gone, but the echoes of the event has continued to resonate even much louder. The occasion which is usually the biggest gathering of Outdoor operators in Nigeria offered a platform for the long-suffering practitioners to vent their frustrations about unfair regulatory practices by the different state governments.
But actually the tone for the day was set by no other than Chairman of Troyka Holding Biodun Shobanjo who owns one of the biggest outdoor agency in Nigeria Optimum Exposures Limited. Shobanjo who was the Guest Speaker of the Poster Award Summit and delivered a defining speech that touched at the core of the major challenges rocking the OOH industry and also pricked at the conscience of the operators.
Shobanjo’s speech was a rallying cry on practitioners who he perceived as too passive, and too willing to offer their backs for regulators to ride on. As he spoke, the over 300 guests, at the Eko Hotels venue of the event, sat in rapt silence, because the speech reminded them of their failures as operators and painted in graphic details their inadequacies.
The veteran adman insisted that no regulator has a right to trample upon law abiding practioners the way Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency was doing on OAAN, by coarsely milking them dry without recourse for their wellbeing.
He slammed the agency for their high-handedness, and the irrational fees imposed on the OOH operators and challenged the OAAN members not to hesitate to drag the operators to FEPE International if they continue with their arbitrariness.
FEPE is the worldwide association of outdoor advertising companies. It engages in worldwide lobbying for outdoor advertising: with authorities, international organizations, political opinion formers and the communication media. “Fight for your rights,” Shobanjo charges the OOH operators.
He added that their failure to fight for their rights is what gives room for LASAA and other of such regulatory agencies across other states to cheaply prey on them and. That was a thought that resonated across the hall and invoked some sour memories from operators who have at one time or been victims of LASAA’s inconsiderateness.
But the height of that inconsiderateness came last year, at the peak of election campaigns, when former LASAA boss George Noah proposed to OAAN members a deal to make all their boards available for All Progressive Congress (APC) campaign messages, with little or nothing left for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The association agreed, on the basis they will be adequately compensated after the elections. But well over one year after which APC have won the election, not a dime has been paid for the job done. And every efforts to get payment have been met with intimidation and blackmail.
But Shobanjo also reserved some blames for the operators whom he accused of setting a very low entry bar for the industry adding that it has further opened the flood gate for proliferations. “The industry must redefine itself and the entry bar must be raised,” he said.
At this point, OAAN President Mr Tunde Adedoyin began shaking his head in agreement. As the leader of the executive, he knows that the mantle of leadership has fallen on him at a time when the industry is riding on the waves of economic storms and his leadership and foresight will be needed to bring stability to the OOH sector.
Some of Shobanjo’s recommendations for the sanitization of the industry are mergers and acquisitions. Shobanjo reasoned that OAAN has stretched itself too thin with about 80 agencies in a small economy like Nigeria. “There are too much outdoor agencies in Nigeria. UK has only five OOH agencies, same for France and event South Africa and some other economies bigger than Nigeria.”
If the industry must assume that benchmark, then it require some radical mergers or acquisition, not just between two or three agencies, but it must involve ten or twenty collapsing into one. This is the better way to go, the veteran adman opined, adding that with fewer, but stronger agencies, operator can wield more influence and successfully resist any form of arbitrariness from government.
Now, the ball is in the court of outdoor operators and observers are waiting to see who will make the first move. But they have also reasoned that such announcement should not be expected in a haste because it is a Nigerian thing for everyone to want to be the boss.