Politics of Attrition Threaten over 80 billion Naira Outdoor Advertising Business in Nigeria
As preparations and political campaigns for the 2015 general elections gather momentum, there are strong indications that the
lucrative and highly organised outdoor advertising business in Nigeria may suffer incalculable losses as politicians tackle themselves
in the usual Nigerian politics of attrition.
Impeccable industry source hinted MARKETING EDGE yesterday that the hawks in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controlled
Federal Government have identified and listed the out-of-home sector in the country as one of the veritable frontiers to do battle
with the highly under-rated and loathed opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 contest.
To make real their plans, the PDP has recruited ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) like the Federal Ministry of Works,
Inland Waterways and other federal agencies in
auxiliary positions to beat the boisterous out-of-home sector into line by ensuring that the sector allocates all the strategic billboard
sites to the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan campaign organization especially in the Lagos State area estimated to represent over 60%
of the Nigerian out-of-home market. This is contrary to hitherto existing rules of engagement in the competitive but highly
capital intensive sector.
Authoritative industry sources revealed that in October last year, the APC campaign team had approached members of the
Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria, (OAAN) the umbrella body of registered outdoor advertising companies in Nigeria
for site allocations from the vacant sites in the metropolis. The APC move, though a very smart and proactive one was said to have been
considered and granted by OAAN members who had over the years incurred severe losses over those unproductive billboards
that have become vacant due to non-patronage by the brand owners.
Promptly, the body gave most strategic sites and innovative billboards products of choice like LEDS to APC campaign group. This
enabled the party to be a major beneficiary of these unique sites as they were genuinely and legally acquired as normal
business transaction which in turn has lifted and boosted the financial fortunes of the outdoor advertising practitioners in the state.
However, the PDP campaign group suddenly rose from its self-imposed slumber and poor insight to be awakened to the reality on ground.
It hurriedly despatched its own delegates team to OAAN for billboards sites concession in Lagos State. The party was said
to have been given a “no vacancy” reply especially in the strategic sites within the metropolis as those sites have been
taken on “first come, first served” basis. Angered but desperate, the team went on the drawing board to re-strategize.
Bent on achieving its goal, the GEJ campaign team approached the relevant Federal agencies to prevail on OAAN members to
revert itself. This prompted the Federal Ministry of Works, Federal Highways and others to write a letter to the body
last week asking its members to remove all posters and billboards on Federal infrastructure within the metropolis.
Confused, the association, sources revealed, quickly reviewed its earlier position by conceding some sites to the GEJ campaign group.
Not satisfied, the GEJ team through the Transformation Agenda of Nigeria (TAN) one of its surrogate allies unilaterally went on
the federal highways in Lagos State posting on posters of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan/Sambo indiscriminately on
electricity poles unmindful of existing rules on cluster and decency.
The exercise has since pitched Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) against the federal MDA’s over the
proprietary or otherwise of the political billboards advertising log jam that has been willy-nilly created. Efforts by OAAN members
to seek the intervention of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, (APCON) on the matter have proved abortive as
the regulatory agency has found itself in a cumbersome and awkward situation, being an agency of the federal government.
The council which has only mutely reacted to the odious and death wish advertisement campaigns by GEJ team, especially
the most ridiculous placement by the rambunctious and vainglorious Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State in The Punch,
has been keeping its face lying low like the proverbial owl. While the Chief Executive Officer, APCON, Alhaji Bello Garba Kankarofi,
himself a civil servant has managed to look the other way as these anomalies unfold under his “watchful regulatory eyes,
the “nominal” chairman of APCON, Esioma, a political appointee of PDP, who has been struggling for industry acceptance saw
the latest offensive a convenient conjecture to exert his essence by colluding with the rampaging Abuja politicians over the
Lagos State billboards issue.
While the APCON chair designate has not seen anything wrong in the unethical and odious adverts placements in both
print and electronics by the politicians, especially the GEJ team, he has been alleged to be the brain behind the rift. The perceived
APCON silence but dangerous trend of placing odious adverts in the newspapers was said to have compelled immediate past
APCON chairman, Mr. Lolu Akinwumi to issue a press statement condemning the Fayose adverts.
Inside sources revealed that there are palpable fears by industry operators over what may be the out-come of the
current face-off between LASAA and the Federal Agencies. While OAAN members are being tactical in handling the situation,
the two agencies, LASAA and Federal Agencies appear poised in articulating and implementing their positions.
Either way, the
out-of-home business and indeed the practitioners are already entangled in the web of politics of attrition.
A top player who does not want to be quoted lamented the situation yesterday in a chat with MARKETING EDGE online. The player
based in Abuja said, “we are very helpless in this situation, as only God can help us. We are not politicians but businessmen
creating employment for over 30,000 Nigerians through our companies, but now the same federal government that should
protect our business is planning to work against us.”
“Rather than leave us out of their politics, now they are extending the battle field to the business community. We don’t
understand all these? We are begging them to leave us out of these at least for the sake of the teeming Nigerian populace that earn their legitimate earnings and decent lives working with us”, he pleaded.
Corroborating this position, another top player and industry leader said OAAN will be very careful in managing the situation.
“We don’t have a choice than to be very tactful. Our position is very clear, we are not politicians, we are businessmen, we shall be
fair to all but the truth is that we cannot afford not to be smart business people as we have bills and even taxes to pay to
governments. They don’t give us those sites free of charge! They cannot engage us in any desperate battle, let them see reason
with us, we are not partisan”, he said.
Earlier, the president of the association Mr. Charles Chijide has cautioned politicians on indiscriminate posting of billboards and
banners for the 2015 general election campaigns.
The association which made the plea at the end of extra-ordinary general meeting held at Obasanjo Legacy Resort in Abeokuta Ogun
State recently stated that the appeal became necessary in view of the need to ensure a friendly and saner out-of-home environment
while also ensuring that everybody is availed the opportunity to use the medium.
The OAAN president, Charles Chijide had said, “the Out-of-Home medium is of paramount essence and importance in executing
any campaign, be it social, economic or political but if the medium is not properly deployed, there can be clutter and chaos and
this will not be in the best interest of all”.
“For us at OAAN, we are proud of the OOH medium as a primary medium in executing any campaign, be it social economic or
political. What is most important is that it must be properly accessed to avoid conflict of interests between users, practitioners
and regulatory agencies”.