The Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode recently announced the appointment of the Nation’s Columnist, Mobolaji Sanusi as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA). This has taken the numbers of the media practitioners who have occupied this position from inception to three.
The only managing director of the agency which did not have a direct link to the media is Makanjuola Alabi while Tunji Bello who replaced Alabi is a known media practitioner. George Noah, who was sacked by Ambode in June this year, is also a publisher of an Island newspaper called Island News.
However there is a growing concern among the industry stakeholders that the agency is fast derailing from its objectives to where political loyalty is being rewarded. Besides successive government using the agency to reward political loyalty, industry observers said that instead of having seasoned practitioners in out-of-home or related industry to this position, government has consistently progressed in error by appointing ‘inexperienced’ media practitioners to regulate outdoor advertising.
Sanusi appointment did not come with usual pomp and pageantry the previous appointments have had, this maybe as a result of that fact that the new MD of LASAA is unknown in the industry.
LASAA as established by the Lagos State Structures for Signage and Advertisement Agency Law, 2006 under former Governor Bola Tinubu and thereto is responsible for regulating and controlling outdoor advertising and signage displays in Lagos State.
According to Alabi who was the pioneer MD of the agency, “We are a government Agency set to re-define the signage and outdoor advertising industry through effective signage and outdoor advertisement regulation and civic beautification.”
True to that the agency lived up to its words. The outdoor advertising has been redefined, the cluster is gone but this did not happen without a price. Several practitioners were thrown out work. Thousands of hoardings were destroyed without compensation.
The action of LASAA led to heartbreak and dead but LASAA under Alabi was unmoved by all that. Today Lagos which was ranked among the dirtiest state in Nigeria could simply pass as one of the cleanness and orderliness in terms of outdoor hoardings.
Alabi regime was a trendsetter and most difficult. It was not easy for practitioners to accept change that was coming at the time. Allegations and counter allegations became the order of the day.
Apart from allegation of corruption leveled against him, Alabi was accused of highhandedness and double standard by industry operators. Some stakeholders alleged that Alabi was a regulator as well as an operator, a trend that did not go down well with some practitioners.
Despite all that Alabi achieved in LASAA, he was booted out of office by former governor Babatunde Fashola.
Tunji Bello was appointed on acting capacity until he was called to assume greater responsibility in the Fashola government. Bello according to sources in the industry brought back sanity. Industry operators heaved a sigh of relieve at his appointment though short lived.
Unlike Alabi era, which was characterized by allegation of corruption, extortion, double standard, highhandedness and so on, Bello tenure was less rancorous and today he is the Secretary to the Lagos State Government.
Noah stepped in
Unexpectedly, Noah a relatively unknown personality emerged the favourite to lead the out of home industry in Lagos. Though some practitioners doubted his ability and capacity to deliver, however Noah surprised all by leading a peaceful and all inclusive regulatory agency.
It was at Noah’s time that members of Outdoor Advertising Agency of Nigeria (OAAN) and LASAA could din at the same table. The long animosity between the two bodies was brought to an end.
Also members of Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria-EXMAN also expressed their satisfaction over Noah’s handling of the agency. Issue of multiple taxation and arbitrariness suddenly disappeared from the lips of practitioners.
However, some antagonists emerged from the corner and labeled him corrupt. Noah couldn’t survive the politic and he was axed in June,
Olumide Sogunle (Deputy Managing Director)- Registry was asked to act until Sanusi was appointed last week.
Naivety of MDs on Out of home matters
Apart from Alabi who has some cogent knowledge and experience of outdoor advertising the other three do have the experience. According to a seasoned outdoor advertising practitioner who spoke to 789marketing on the condition of anonymity he said, “it is a dangerous trend that inexperience people are put in place to regulate professional industry.”
He said further, “it is rare to see non-professionals occupying regulatory agencies in accounting, oil and gas, finance, education and information technology amongst others but very common in the advertising industry.”
Investigations reveal that Bello, Noah as well as new CEO Sanusi never had any experience in the out of home apart from media which is not beyond journalistic skill.
Stakeholders called on government to ensure that practitioners are given that opportunity to regulate their industry rather than inexperienced individuals.
“Industry regulation and control is more than revenue generation, and it is obvious revenue is number one in the mind and thinking of the government hence the appointment they have made so far,” said Adekunle Ipaye, outdoor advertising specialist.
Beyond writing a weekly column in The Nation, the new CEO lacks a traceable footprint even in the internet. Apart from his articles, a query on google for Sanusi photographs proved abortive.
If it is difficult to get him on online how easy would it prove to get him to test his knowledge of the industry he is to regulate, queried Mandu Asukwo, a communication specialist.
It is Sanusi was recommended for the job by Bello, a former Commissioner for Environment, a former LASAA MD and current Secretary to the Lagos State Government.
He is also said to be a die-hard fan of ex-Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu. It is noteworthy to say that his predecessors were also recommended by certain powerful individuals in government but they were shown the way out albeit disgracefully.
Industry stakeholders are astonished over his emergence as CEO of LASAA but they are quietly watching as event will unfold subsequently.