Thursday, 26 March 2015
1. It is my pleasure to inaugurate the new Governing Council of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON on this occasion of my first official visit to APCON.
2. Let me first congratulate Mr. Udeme Ufot for his appointment as the 6th Chairman of APCON and other distinguished Nigerians who have been appointed to serve as members of the Council. I have no doubt in my mind that you are all aware of the challenges which your appointment poses for you as individuals as well as the great expectations from you by thousands of Advertising practitioners and indeed the Nigerian public.
3. Advertising is one profession which is constantly in the public view. The products of advertising affect virtually every member of the society, influencing the lives, attitudes and behaviours of individuals, positively or negatively. It is for this reason that Advertising practitioners and those
who use Advertising must commit themselves to socially responsible conduct, conscious of the need to safeguard the integrity of Advertising communications and the wellbeing of those who are exposed to these communications.
4. The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria for which I have the pleasure to inaugurate the 6th Governing Council today is the custodian of professional and responsible conduct by all persons and institutions engaged in the business of Advertising in Nigeria.
5. As you are all aware, APCON is a creation of a statute which charges the Council with the responsibility to:
(a) Determine who are advertising practitioners.
(b) Determine what standards of knowledge and skills are to be attained by persons seeking to become registered as members of the advertising profession, and reviewing those standards from time to time.
(c) Secure in accordance with the provisions of the APCON Decree, the establishment and maintenance of a register of persons entitled to practice as advertising practitioners, and the publication, from time to time of the list of those persons.
(d) Regulate and control the practice of advertising in all its aspects and ramifications.
(e) Conduct examinations in the profession and award certificates or diplomas to successful candidates when appropriate.
(f) Perform the other functions conferred on the Council by the said Decree.
6. Aside attitudinal problems, your Code of Advertising Practice demands certain minimal standards of adherence to rules and regulations. I am talking about ideals of advertising practice namely:
Truth, Honesty, Decency, and Legality. This is in addition to respect for Nigeria’s cultural values and our national icons.
7. I charge you today to apply yourselves to the unwavering discharge of these responsibilities with the resolve to lift the standard of Advertising practice in Nigeria, and accord the profession the level of respectability it deserves.
8. Advertisements should be prepared with a high sense of social responsibility, including the demand on you that on no account should the interest of consumers and the wider Nigerian society be compromised.
9. We are all aware of the critical issues affecting the advertising practice, and indeed Nigeria’s advertising industry. Unethical behaviors, sharp practices and unbridled pursuit of money have all added up to a depreciation of our value system.
10. The efforts of yesteryears to evolve and nurture worthwhile respect for the profession and the practitioners are being diluted by infractions in the way we have carried on. All the sectorial groups being regulated by APCON must play by the rules and work within the confines of the code you swore to uphold.
11. A good example is the issue of media debts. Ten years after your 2007 Media Summit to address nagging issues of industry debts, and adoption of global best practices, can we lay a strong claim to helping sustain a virile media in our beloved country Nigeria? This is food for thought, especially as Advertising prides itself as being the greatest supporter of a free and virile media.
12. It is mandatory on APCON to encourage a much more serious adherence to responsibilities inherent in contracts with media houses and other groups.
13. We can start today, at this inauguration of the 6th Governing Council to do things differently. We can resolve to build and sustain a profession where our attachment to integrity and credibility should improve the public perception of the profession and the industry, generally. That will be the way to a glorious and respectable future for the industry.
14. Government expects to see greater involvement of Advertising practitioners in its social re-engineering and economic developmental programmes. With the inauguration of the Udeme led council, Government expects to see Advertising make the same impact it is reputed to make on the perception and profitability of brands, on the perception and indeed, development of the Nigeria brand.
15. 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 actions of a few bad eggs at home and
abroad affect all of us since we are all Nigerians.
16. The Goodluck Jonathan administration regards the Advertising industry as an important stakeholder in Re-branding Nigeria properly. The Government will therefore always appreciate your professional advise in this regard. I therefore wish to assure you that Government will continue to provide an enabling environment for improved performance of the economy, and in so doing make the business of Advertising thrive in Nigeria, in tandem with the Transformation Agenda of the government.
17. For the new Governing Board of APCON, I wish to emphasize that today, you are accepting a major responsibility - a resolve to effect positive changes in the practice, and bestow on the profession a new lease of life. You can do something about defaults that encumber on every step of your practice by enforcing industry-engineered regulations, including applying necessary sanctions.
18. At the top of industry regulatory activities, you NOW have a chance (and the duty) to redeem your image and save the profession.
19. Let me thank the immediate past APCON Chairman, Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi and members of the immediate past Governing Council for their invaluable service. I wish them well in their future endeavours.
20. I will not fail to congratulate the Chief Executive Officer, Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi, for his proactive engagements and untiring efforts to reposition and re-brand APCON. I want to assure him and the Council that I will continue to support APCON to actualize its noble vision. I will
also like to remind the Council that it is a policy-making organ, and should therefore cooperate and not interfere with the management of the organization.
21. Finally, you need to be reminded of the benefits of authentic planning, reliable and transparent audit system to drive compliance and promote TRUST.
22. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, on this note, I thank you for your attention and I have the pleasure to formally inaugurate the 6th Governing Council of APCON.
The Hon Minister of Tourism, National Orientation and the Supervising Minister of the Ministry of Information, Chief Edem Duke, the in-coming APCON Chairman, Mr. Udeme Ufot, MFR, frpa, past Chairmen of APCON,
the out-going members of the APCON 5th Council, in-coming members of the 6th Council, distinguished fellows, fellow practitioners, members of the Press, and last but not the least, our host, the Registrar and CEO,
Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi. It gives me great pleasure to address this distinguished audience today, an event that should have taken place in 2013. I am glad that the challenges and impasse were finally resolved, although at a cost, whereby the new Council could not be inaugurated and critical assignments stalled. May I use this opportunity to appeal to government to please ensure that this mistake whereby the APCON Chairman is treated as a political appointee is taken care of once and for all.
The tenure of the 5th Governing Council was a very busy and active one, and I will like to quickly list some of our accomplishments during the period:
REVIEW OF THE 4TH ADVERTISING CODE
The Council successfully implemented the 5th Code Review following an industry-wide consultation through the APCON Committee on Advertising Practice Reforms (ACAPR). The implementation commenced from January 2013. Unfortunately the Chairman of the Committee, a distinguished fellow and practitioner, Willy Nnorom passed away in 2014. We will continue to miss him.
One of the mandates of the APCON Council is to regulate and approve the various syllabuses and standards for the practice within higher institutions, which award diplomas and degrees. During the period, we accredited several institutions of higher learning including the Pan African University/Lagos Business School.
STAKEHOLDERS’ SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS
We organised various stakeholders' seminars/workshops and several executive programmes.
We added over 1000 new members through students’ registration, over 1000 Associate Members, over 100 upgrades from Associate to Full Membership and several Fellowship Awards. We also worked with the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria on streamlining membership registration and signed a memorandum of association to seal this.
ADVERTISING STANDARDS PANEL
Vetting and approval of advertising materials is one of the core responsibilities of the Council through the ASP. During the period, vetting application rose by over 70%, and compliance level by over 75%.
I am happy to report that even the various political parties send their materials in for vetting. While we still experience some leakages, the awareness is higher, and compliance is more regular.
COLLABORATION BETWEEN APCON, NBC AND NAFDAC
One of the biggest challenges we have is the spurious exposure of uncensored tradomedical advertisements promising unsubstantiated reliefs for various ailments and diseases. During the period, we commenced discussions with NAFDAC and NBC for a collaborative relationship, which was to ensure that the three bodies simultaneously vetted all tradomedical advertising materials. My council could not conclude the project, and hopefully, the next council will continue where we stopped.
COLLABORATION BETWEEN APCON AND THE CONSUMER PROTECTION COUNCIL ON EFFECTIVE REGULATION OF SPURIOUS SALES PROMOTION
We continued to work very closely with the Consumer Protection Council in ensuring that sales promotions were honest, and not abused, delivering on all the promises to the consumer.
PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT WITH THE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR ALCOHOLIC POLICY (ICAP) USA ON ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS CONTROL
This has been one of the most successful projects undertaken by the 5th Council. We went into a partnership agreement with the International Centre for Alcoholic Policy (ICAP), Washington, USA for the effective management of communication materials on alcohol beverage. Through this channel, APCON and the beer sectorial group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria successfully hosted the three international seminars and conferences in Lagos and Abuja, which involved delegates from many parts of Africa. The Beer Sectorial Group of MAN also sought our assistance and support for the provision of technical support for the setting up of it Self Regulatory (SR) Secretariat. Hopefully, APCON will hold a similar summit with the telecoms operators and other stakeholders within the industry to review overall communication and especially tactical campaigns and promotions. We feel very proud of the work done in this project and especially appreciate the roles of the local and international partners.
APCON also initiated and hosted various media and brand journalist forums, as well as interactive sessions with the Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks, ACAMB, with a view to updating them on the responsibilities and expectations of APCON.
APCON hosted a joint intervention through an Outdoor Forum involving the OAAN and other regulators and stakeholders. Following the summit, the Council formally met the Lagos State government to solicit its support through LASAA so that the practice could operate with minimum casualty.
INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION AND CAPACITY BUILDING
During the period, APCON was invited by the Ghana Advertising Association (GAA) to advise and help them set up their own regulatory body. During the trip, we had an opportunity to meet and present to the members of the Ghanaian Parliament with oversight function for communication, as well as a large group of Ghanaian practitioners and business people.
SUPPORT FOR GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND ACTIVITIES
APCON also continued to actively interact with the office of the Hon Minister of Information, offering the support of Council and our members for government policies and activities. On our own initiative, our members in AAAN, developed messages that supported some key government policies, thereby identifying with the government’s plan to administer effectively. I am happy to report that the relationship with the office of the Hon Minister is very cordial, and use this opportunity to thank the various Ministers, members of the national assembly, the Presidency, the various Permanent Secretaries and other senior officials of the Ministry for their support.
It was not all rosy. At some point the Council had to manage the issues of recalcitrance from a few quarters but thank God that with the support of the Ministry and the Hon Minister, the issues were effectively doused.
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 law says. 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. We are aware of some illicit and unauthorized activities at the moment, whereby some foreigners are operating illegally within the market, simply because there was no Council in place. My expectation is that the new Council will move rapidly to stop and also discourage such activities.
May I also use the opportunity of the presence of the Hon Minister to appeal for strong government support in the implementation. During our tenure, certain foreign interests indicated that they were not interested in compliance and worked very hard to derail the work on the amended code. The successful implementation of the code will professionalise the industry further and help hold the jobs that Nigerian professionals ought to do. We reiterate that the subject of public communication is very critical and sensitive, and the management for security reasons must be in the hands of Nigerians and not foreigners.
Finally, I want to thank the out-going Council, and wish the new Chairman and in-coming Council all the best during their tenure. Our hope is that they will pick up from where we stopped and perform even better than we did. The future of APCON has been more defined. The regulatory body has moved from just a vetting organ to one that plays a more comprehensive and major role in formulating policies that affect public communication in Nigeria.
Thank you and God bless you.
‘Lolu Akinwunmi, frpa, March, 05 2015