Goddie Ofose

The stakeholders in the Out-of-home advertising industry in Nigeria has called on Lagos Signage and Advertisement Agency, (LASAA), to demonstrate sincerity if it’s truly desired to offer practitioners palliatives by waiving fees on vacant boards.

Some industry stakeholders who spoke after LASAA had announced palliatives for outdoor advertising practitioners in Lagos said that the regulator has displayed concern towards the good of the industry by reeling out some palliatives to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic but waiver on vacant board should have sufficed.

Last month, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of LASAA, Prince Adedamola Docemo, had said that the agency has decided to waive the permit fees for outdoor practitioners spanning three months from April to June 2020, following the approval of the state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. “This represents 25 percent of the outdoor practitioners’ bill for the year 2020.”

He added that the agency is also willing to offer a special discount to all outdoor advertising practitioners that are ready to offset their 2019 outstanding bills completely and immediately. “This will, however, be done on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

Speaking to Sunday Independent, the president of Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria, (OAAN), Mr. Emmanuel Ajufo said, “As Nigerians, any good gesture should be appreciated.  So we are indeed very grateful and a formal letter has been sent to LASAA to that effect.”

 “However we expect more. For a long time now, the first quarter is usually slow for our business. It peaks up in the second quarter. But we all know that the second quarter of this year came with all the Covid 19 restrictions,” Ajufo added.

The OAAN president stated that the Covid 19 pandemic created a chain reaction, so much so, that when government started gradual reopening of the economy, our advertisers used the third quarter to look at their plans in line with the Covid 19 realities and those that could afford it gradually started coming back on our platforms.

“In reality therefore, it is actually the fourth quarter that we’ll have a semblance of normalcy all things being equal. It is based on this scenario that I’ve painted that we’ll ask for more palliatives.”

Similarly, he said, “We have been on the issue of vacant sites for so long and we want government to make a statement on them now. This is because most of the debts we owe LASAA are as a result of charges on vacant sites. These debts will get even worse this year as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.”

 The government has shown from their actions so far that it is a listening government and we therefore hope that they will address our issues with the listening ears we have known them for, adding that “On our part, we will continue to collaborate with government and offer our services for the good of the society,” Ajufo reinforced.

While thanking LASAA for the overture made to the practitioners, Mr. Bidwell Nkemakolam Okere, CEO/MD, LUZO DN & Media Limited, said that “But looking at the offer you would see the emptiness of it with all due respect. April to June 2020, when the so called offer is to cover and anchored on was a lock down period. Most advertising campaign was cancelled and the economy shut down,” he stated.

“So, the question is, what is LASAA offering by using such peril period to give a bate? Is this the economic stimulus and tax/rate rebate other smart states and industries are giving to help business get back,” Okere queried.

“That LASAA offer is like the proverbial mermaid offer; bring a human head to gain a monkey head.”.

CEO of LUZO DN & Media Limited said, “Regulators are supposed to be looking for ways to support business and ensure survival of industry. Outdoor advertising industry is hemorrhaging and regulators kneel are on its neck.”