The Chairman of Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Mr. Udeme Ufot has disclosed that era of non-vetted commercial on Nigerian airwaves would soon be over as the regulatory body has concluded plans to ship in new monitoring equipment from Italy. He spoke also about the new administration’s dissolution of his council.
FG’s blanket dissolution of boards, commissions and parastatals
We are in a difficult situation now, following Mr President’s blanket dissolution of all boards, commission and parastatals, APCON ideally being set up by law is not one of those institutions, but the time we are in, everybody is too scared to appear to cross the president or confront government. We’ve sought clarity about our position, which has not been forthcoming. Everybody is saying let us wait, let us get something from the president, and that is where our concern is. We have paid a courtesy call to congratulate him, but as it is now, the council is harm-strung. We don’t have the freedom to operate way we would have loved to operate, because of this non-clarity of government’s position on APCON Council. We are set up by statute, and like Nigerian Medical Council and Nigerian Institute of Architects, we shouldn’t, ordinarily be affected, but nobody in the Ministry is keen to stake up their necks to take the risk. We’ve made overtures to
the government through appropriate quarters, it wasn’t possible much earlier, because as you very well know, the new government has taken its time in picking its key players. When you have a government where there is no SGF to take matters to, and all you as the most senior person, probably after the president and the Vice President, is Head of Service, civil servants are inclined to be very cautious in the way they approach things. With the proper structuring of government now and hopefully if the Minister of Information is also appointed, it would make it easier for us to remove the obstacle that is now on the way, to enable us make proper progress.
It is so unfortunate because it was coming at a time we had gone through a rigorous process of setting up the committees that would work in the council, everything was beautifully set up, then this interregnum came again. What it means effectively, and very saddening is that for the past two years, APCON council has really not been operative.
APCON as a regulatory body
APCON is for the industry, and my own task as APCON chairman is to ensure that the goodwill of the industry, across all levels, is secure because APCON was made for the advertising industry, not the other way round. So any semblance of confrontation, or member of the industry perceiving APCON as being against their welfare or growth, for me I feel is something that should be removed. I operate an open-door policy. I believe in engagement, because what leads to conflict is lack of communication. So when there is an open door, when there are things to be done, you explain then, even ahead of whatever policy that needs to be introduced and people are carried along. This makes it a lot easier to eliminate conflict or reduce it at the very least.
Plans to introduce media monitoring equipment
There are also issues for APCON in the area of Advertising Standard Panel (ASP) to be able to monitor the media. For instance, nobody can buy a space in the print and publish and deny that, but what happens to the electronics media? Most of the organisations don’t keep proper records of their transmissions, so when there are contraventions, the onus would be on APCON to prove that the law was flouted at any point in time. So one of my key objectives is that there is an equipment that one can actually procure, which would help monitor all the radio and television stations in the country. So you don’t have to depend on the accused to present evidence for himself to be sentenced. We’ve commenced work and we’ve been in Italy to see the manufacturers of the equipment and they’ve done the demonstration for us, and it was quite encouraging. And I believe if it is the only thing I do as APCON chairman, through the support of industry friends and
clients who have assured me of their support, I’m okay. The equipment is quite expensive, but it will remove a lot of controversies and crises.