Minister Inaugurates Udeme as APCON Chairman, Counsel on ‘Brand Nigeria’ By Wole David

The Supervising Minister, Ministry of Information, Chief Edem Duke officially inaugurated Mr. Udeme Ufot, the group managing director of SO&U Group as the Chairman of the Advertisers Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON yesterday at the auditorium of the News Agency of Nigeria at a well attended event by industry and government top functionaries.

Edem Duke’s pronouncement, “It is my pleasure to inaugurate the new governing council of Advertisers Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON on this occasion,” laid to rest the ghost of eighteen months of Nigeria advertising in the ‘spirit world’, “a long and challenging journey, but it’s worth it…we are sorry, the industry can now forge ahead” says Dr. Folashade Omolara Yemi-Esan, permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Information.

In his welcome address, the Registrar/CEO, Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi, a soothing balm orator, moving memoir and encyclopedia of Nigeria advertising at the inauguration correctly acknowledged the men of timber and caliber that cuts across all stakeholders, “I am humbled by the array of distinguished practitioners and other stakeholders who have responded to our invitation to grace this occasion. This number and quality of guests clearly demonstrates solidarity with the Council and enthusiasm about a stable advertising industry after months of uncertainty. The task of managing the industry during the last 18 months without a substantive Council was a nightmare.

Amazingly, Garba had first, middle and last name recall of distinguished guests and a story to tell about most of the industry’s front liners in the hall, many were not surprised and they all appreciate him for it.

“I sincerely appreciate the former Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, the immediate past Supervising Minister, Dr. Nurudeen Muhammad, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Dr. (Mrs.) Folashade Yemi-Esan, Mr. Peter N. Dama, the outgoing chairman of APCON, Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi, the former chairman of ASP, Mr. Ade Akinde, whose counsel and support enabled us to wade through the turbulence”, the CEO said.

Recognising one of the fall-outs of the season of anomy, Rt. Hon. Buba Jibril, Chairman, House Committee on Information and National Orientation, member representing Lokoja Federal Constituency counselled, “Obey the law…I was watching the television yesterday and I saw terrible adverts, we cannot because of election tear this country apart. Those messages have the potential to tear the country apart” and the out-going council chairman could not agree less.

Outgoing 5th council chairman, Mr. ‘Lolu Akinwunmi, while acknowledging the Isiomalisation setbacks, would rather focus on the “Next Level”.

“With the gazetting of the 5th Code and the setting up of the main machineries for the implementation of the Licensing Regime, APCON has a major role to play in ensuring that there is a faithful adherence to what the laws say”.

And touching on some of the sore issues that generated heat during his tenure, briefly and succinctly remarked, “I wish to reiterate again that the new regime is not in place to stop foreign players or discourage them. On the other hand, the purpose is to ensure that adequate and proper regulations are in place to ensure that this sector operates professionally.”

In his acceptance speech, Mr.Udeme Ufot, the new Chairman of the 6th APCON council, “My friend Udeme” so described after the hugely successful Guinness stout campaign that he helped to create says, “Today is indeed a glorious day for the advertising profession in Nigeria. It marks the end of 18 months of uncertainty, and the triumph of professionalism. It is also indicative of the power of the advertising industry when all sectoral groups act in one accord”. He dovetails to current challenges of Nigeria, building on the foundation enumerated earlier by Akinwunmi in what seems like an unbroken, choreographed chain of a victorious Olympic relay team, “If government fails to commit to the growth of advertising industry in Nigeria, we would then be diminishing the capacity of our own market, whilst boosting the capacity of others. Our biggest resource is our people, especially our youth, 54% of whom are unemployed.”

Barring red-tapes, corrupting influences of high places in establishment, Udeme’s reputation that have been built over the years and the spirit of solidarity that he inherits from the during-and-after of the vexed turbulence, the sky might just be a starting point for him.

The minister did not forget to mention the lingering issues surrounding media debt that was raised about ten years earlier as “still hot on the table” and that addressing these industry issues and that professionals’ “should begin to do things differently.”

Luckily, the media was ably represented by marketing and brand journalists, Obi Asika, the special assistant to the president on social media, director general of broadcasting organization of Nigeria, BON and not less a personality than Chief Raymond Dokpesi of AIT.

Chief Edem Duke noted that “Aside attitudinal problems, your Code of Advertising Practice demand certain minimal standards of adherence to rules and regulations”,  that is, ideals of advertising practice, of truth, honesty, decency, and legality. The currently double capped minister did not shy away from visiting the ‘Brand Nigeria’ project for the third take?

It does seems that the project contentious and rancorous retake and studio makeover may have to go back to location if we go by the minister’s a la carte placed on the table of advertising professionals, “I do not need to remind you that, as image management experts, you must strive to Re-brand Nigeria appropriately. This is a public service that should concern all of us, because the consequences of Nigeria’s negative image arising from the action of a few bad eggs at home and abroad affect all of us since we are all Nigerians.”

Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi’ 5th Council rigorous efforts, the painstaking hard work and patriotic support of late Prof. Dora Akunyili may have to visit the surgeon’s table, at least to heal the minister’s “consequences”.


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