Lai Mohammed's No Show on APCON Council

Contrary to the expectations of stakeholders at the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) International Summit on Advertising, which ended Friday at the Intercontinental Hotels Lagos, Honorable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has again avoided making any categorically statement concerning the overdue reconstitution of the APCON council.

Many participants at the two-day event had high hopes that the minister whose ministry supervises APCON and has the statutory power to convene the dissolved council, would seize the opportunity of the summit to clear the air on government’s position on the council and assure operators of his support for the industry, but they were disappointed when the minister steered clear of the issue, thereby leaving practitioners confused as to what government’s real intentions are.

“We expected that the minister would have made a comment on the council,” Idorenyen Enang a veteran marketer and former CEO Samsung West Africa said.

However, some of the operators have tampered their pessimism and frustration by holding on to the tiny strand of hope offered in the speech, when Alhaji Mohammed assured that recommendations reached at the session will be carefully looked into for possible implementation. While this murky comment may have fallen short of expectations, practitioners are however committed to making the most of it by giving the summit recommendation on APCON council a more prominent place in the final white paper.

“That is the only assurance we have, so we’ll are going to make the most of it by making sure that our recommendation on APCON council has a prominent place,” David Okeme, President of Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN).

Other stakeholders at the event have also said that the continued absence of the council was a major setback for the IMC because it leave a void that undermines growth and exposes the industry to vices.

Recall that in February, during his tour of Lagos, Alhaji Mohammed promised to immediately put machineries in motion to get the council back to work, but about five months after, he is yet to give any significant indication of making that a reality.

“APCON is not just a key agency in the ministry. It is a catalyst in the advertising industry and economy. APCON is often misunderstood for what its stands for. It is a regulator and institute. It is a professional body and those who constitute the board should be professionals. APCON board is not for politicians. I urge the management to furnish me with more information. APCON council is a matter that we will address immediately because it is affecting the job of the council,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senate Committee Chairman on Information and Culture Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who was also a guest at the event and a stakeholder in the industry addressed the issue by placing the blame for the delayed in the reconstitution of the APCON council squarely on the doorsteps of the minister.

While sympathizing with the industry for the failure of government to reconvene the council, he stressed that there was nothing he could do as a Senator to help the situation.

The last APCOM council was headed by CEO of SO&U Mr Udeme Ufot. But it was dissolved shortly after President Mohammadu Buhari took office last year, and since then some of the reform proposals by the council have been stalled and the industry have also been stifled.

While the industry awaits government position on the council, no one is sure what direction it will take, whether government will recall the Udeme Ufot led council, whose tenure was prematurely truncated or if an entirely new board will be put in place. The waiting game continues.


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