Having emerged the fourth registrar/CEO of Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, (APCON) a couple of months ago, Dr. Olalekan Olumuyiwa Fadolapo said his vision for the advertising apex regulatory body is that will provide a healthy environment for all competitors within the industry.

Fadolapo who spoke recently to select media on where he will like to see APCON said, “I see an APCON that plays the role of an industry regulator- not regulating to strangulate or regulating to kill, but a regulator that is there for the stakeholders and players in the industry. An APCON that is closer to the people, players, practitioners and stakeholders, that is, the advertising community.”

At where he met APCON and where he’ll like to take it to, the newly appointed APCON registrar stated that “I met was without a substantive registrar and the entire industry was clamouring for a change — not a change in the management, but a change in the way and manner things were done. I met an industry that was yearning for implementation of advertising industry reforms.”

On the state of regulation prior to his appointment, he said fortunately, I was the secretary of the Advertising Industry Reform Committee that was set up some years ago. We took a look at the industry, found the challenges that the industry was facing. Therefore, we came up with so many things.

CEO/Registrar APCON and Chairman Senate Committee on Advertising

“We looked at them vis-a-vis other professions in Nigeria and the global practice — the best business practices. It may interest you to know that in other countries, there is a standard operating framework that guides the relationship of every stakeholder in the industry: the client and agency, and between the agency and the vendors. But in Nigeria, we do not have anything we can hold on to,” he said.

So, we are looking at a new APCON that has a standard operating manual for the entire advertising industry, even in the issue of contract and payment policy. These are some of the issues we are going to look into. For now, I’m consulting. I’m talking to all the sectoral groups. Asking them: ‘What are the major challenges you want us to address?’ All this, put together, will form our new operating manual,” the former AAAN Executive Secretary revealed.

Speaking on how soon can be achieved, he said, “We would take the remaining part of this year to take a detailed look at it. So many things have changed between the last time the industry reform was done and now. For example, the new government policy on ease of doing business, you also need to take that into consideration. The Company And Allied Matters Act (CAMA) have been amended, you need to take that into consideration as well.

“He explained that for you to apply for corporate licence before, you needed to be a company with a minimum of two shareholders. The amended CAMA said it is one shareholder. There is also a provision for liability partnership, which was not there before. We are looking at the new provision of CAMA and how we are going to situate our own industry reform into this and how we are going to make it better.”

Mrs. Ijedi Iyoha, Immediate Past Acting Registrar handing over to Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo CEO/Registrar, APCON

On advertising capacity to create employment, Dr. Fadolapo revealed that industry has the potential to create over five thousand jobs. He said, “Let me tell you this, if we start this, the advertising industry can create 5,000 jobs immediately and that is part of government’s policy: job creation. You can quote me on this that if we implement the APCON reform, we will create 5,000 jobs.”

Reacting to the emergence of social media as massive platform for advertisement and offensive advert dotting the social media and the role of Advertising Standards Panel over the years, Fadolapo said APCON did not have a council. Neither did it have a registrar. “I’m not holding brief, but I am saying that some of these things might be responsible for this

“Social media caught APCON unawares like many other government agencies. Some countries are just developing regulation for social media, this year. Now, the challenge is, let us even define the social media players and social media space owners. They are not practitioners; they are just media space owners. Look at Linda Ikeji, for example, she is just a social media space owner, she is a blogger. There are digital creative agencies. Those are the people that do creative things that are exposed on those social media space,” he reacted.

Explaining further the APCON registrar stated that “We can only regulate the digital creative agencies or the digital buying agencies. We cannot regulate the digital space owners. But what are we going to do? We need to engage the social media space owners. We are going to identify and take a pitch to them. We will not engage them in warfare because we want to regulate. We will sit everybody down and ask questions, we will plead with them. It is going to be a win-win situation. It’s not because we have the Federal might behind us. What we want to do is to sit down with each and every one and discuss where the infractions are coming from.”

Speaking to the state of media debt in the industry, Dr. Fadolapo, a former AAAN executive secretary who was a member in most of the APCON and industry wide committees, stated that several years ago, a Special Committee on Media Debts Issue (ACOMDI) was set up. Members of the committee were drawn from the major sectoral associations, namely ADVAN, AAAN, BON, MIPAN, OAAN and NPAN.

“I served in that committee. The media houses were requested to bring their statement of accounts because the thing was more to reconcile the debts. At the end of the day, most of the media houses did not respond because of business relationships with the agencies of the parties involved,” he said.

According to him, the people that responded also had so many reconciliatory issues. The issue is also coming up again. I have been meeting with the Director General of NBC, we are the two regulatory bodies involved in this, and we both agreed that going forward, we would have zero tolerance for industry debt, and that is where our standard of practice will come.

“We will also define business relationship and what is classified as debt. Now, if any organisation owes a media house, and it is confirmed that they are not paying or have been paid but are not remitting, we would take a decision. NBC and APCON will make a pronouncement. NBC issues licence to the media house, while APCON issues licence to the advertising agencies, so as their regulators, we have resolved to come in and ensure we bridge this gap and to ensure we resolve this issue and give you the permanent solution,” he said.