IN BUSINESS – Marketing Niche BY Goddie Ofose, Lagos

Mr. Funmi Onabolu

Heads of Advertising Sectoral Groups (HASG) met in Lagos and rejected unanimously the appointment of Ngozi Emioma as the Chairman of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON).

HASG comprises the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN), Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), and Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN).

The heads of all sectoral groups were represented at the meeting, except NPAN, which attributed its absence to the current litigation against APCON.

AAAN was represented by Kelechi Nwosu (its President), Lekan Fadolapo (Executive Secretary); MIPAN by Ken Onyali-Ikpe (Vice President) and Eki Adzufeh (Executive Secretary); OAAN by Charles Chijide (President) and Emmanuel Ajufo (General Secretary); ADVAN by Kachi Onubogu (executive council member) and Ediri Ose-Ediale (Executive Secretary).

Akinwunmi’s Exit

The three-year tenure of Prima Garnet Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lolu Akinwunmi, as APCON Chairman expired on September 27, 2013, creating 11 months of vacuum in the leadership of a body which regulates and controls advertising in the country.

The Council has also remained without a legally constituted Council, leaving its operations to the Registrar/CEO, Garba Kankarofi.

Kankarofi confirmed that “the delay in inaugurating a new Council for APCON has expectedly slowed down some of the operations of APCON, particularly in the area of initiating fresh regulatory policies and carrying out certain operations that require the approval of the Council.”

He sought the quick inauguration of the Council to give a clear direction on the work of APCON.

However, the routine operations of the Council are carried out by the staff and, when necessary, with the counsel of appropriate stakeholders.

Appointment of Emioma

Last year, Abuja reconstituted the boards of parastatals and regulatory bodies, and allegedly announced a new Council for APCON, with Emioma as its Chairman.

The appointment of Emioma, an alleged unknown entity in advertising circles, sent shake waves down the spine of many stakeholders. The appointment of APCON chairman had always followed procedure, which meant that the person must be fellow of the Council.

What the law says

The Nigerian Advertising Laws, Rules and Regulations Act 55 of 1988 (as amended), state that a chairman, who shall be a distinguished fellow of the profession, should be appointed by the president.

Seven persons are to be appointed by the minister, one of whom shall be from the Ministry of Information and the rest from among other interests in advertising, which in the opinion of the minister ought to be adequately represented.
Ten persons are to be elected by AAAN and two to represent tertiary institutions offering courses leading to an approved qualification to be appointed by the minister in rotation, so that the two persons shall not come from the same institution.
Nwosu argued that “Emioma and other members of his Council are not qualified to be on the APCON Council. None of them fulfils the expectation of the APCON law, and are therefore, not qualified to be members of the APCON Council.”

Emioma Defence

Emioma is aware of his deficiency, which could deprive him of his appointment. One is his lack of fellowship, a big factor in determining who heads APCON.
But he relies on Act 55 part 1, sub Section 3, which states that the Council may, if deems fit, bestow an honorary fellowship on any deserving person who has distinguished himself in his calling and whose contribution is such that it is in the interest of the Council to be associated with such a person.
But ADVAN Executive Committee member, Kachi Onubogu, insisted that “there is no Council in place to confer an honorary fellowship on Emioma, so he is disqualified.”

Why take so long to act

HASG members denied that they have been quiet over the matter.
AAN Executive Secretary, Lekan Fadolapo, recounted that HASG wrote several letters of complaint to President Goodluck Jonathan and Information Minister, Labaran Maku, immediately Emioma’s appointment was made public.
Emioma, who was sent copies of the letters, still parades himself as APCON Chairman, but he has no access to the Council office in Iganmu, Lagos.
One of the letters written to Jonathan, dated June 13, 2014, sought his “support in ensuring this illegality is reversed and permanently resolved.”

HASG prayers

HASG unanimously rejected Emioma’s appointment and vowed not to work with him if the government fails to reverse the mistake.
Nwosu appealed to Jonathan to rescind the appointment because it is “against the APCON law and was made in error, as had been done in the past.”

Maku’s take

Maku said there is a mistake in the appointment of APCON chairman because the law is very clear about who to pick. “It’s a specific professional board and we are sorting it out. We are praying that very soon the various issues that violate the APCON Act in the composition of the membership of the board will be resolved,” he enthused.

Onabolu on pole position
With the death of former Council member, Willy Nnorom, and the backing down of former Advertising Standard Panel Chairman, Ade Akinde, the coast is clear for the Managing Director of Cosse Advertising and former AAN President, Funmi Onabolu, to head APCON.

Sources said he is in the frame because he believes in industry reform. Maku has reportedly endorsed him, and plans to announce his appointment immediately that of Emioma is rescinded



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