APCON Council: Why AAAN, Key Practitioners Kick against FG Nominations
The list approved by President Muhammadu Buhari consisting of 1,467 Nigerians with 209 and 1,258 as Chairmen and members respectively to fill board positions in some federal agencies and parastatals, has generated a fit of anger and distress especially in the Nigerian advertising industry with respect to the APCON Council
A statement issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, had explained the president considered the approval for the constitution of the Boards, as well as the appointments, very necessary to provide proper governance and oversight structure for government agencies and parastatals.
However, stakeholders and key practitioners in the industry did not see the list meant for the industry’s only government regulatory agency, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON, achieving the stated objective for the composition of the long awaited board of the council.
The grouse of the stakeholders speaking under the auspices of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN)is said to be the the Federal government insensitivity in the nomination and appointment of non advertising and marketing practitioners into the reconstituted APCON Council, as the Federal government’s regulatory agency for the industry.
Condemning the government’s action on the new council members as released last week, top Nigerian advertising practitioners said the exercise was in clear breach of the Act of law setting up the institution, insisting that government should not be seen to be flouting the constitution of the land.
The newly appointed APCON council members led by Hon. Jacob Sunday (Chairman), Chief Dayo Abatan, Aloysius Okafor, Sani Tulu, Akor Sunday, Ismaila Umar Sifawa and Murtala Adamu Atiku as members are being rejected denied by stakeholders for falling short of qualifications and conditions necessary for the office as contained in the enabling laws (as amended) setting up the council.
In the light of this, a statement by the stakeholders declared, “The Federal Government again goofed for the third consecutive times as it announced names of politicians and non advertising professionals as nominees for the yet to be reconstituted council which had been delayed for over two years now”.
The appointment, according to our survey respondents, is contrary to the APCON law which demands that council members must be fellows of the regulatory body. “The Nigerian Advertising Laws, Rules and Regulations Act 55 of 1988 (as amended),states that a chairman, who should be appointed by the President, shall be a distinguished fellow of the profession.
Aside the Chairman, 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.
Responding to BrandCrunch on the issue Lolu Akinwunmi, former APCON Chairman and Group CEO, Prima Garnet Africa, said the development is “an avoidable error by the government, which is not happening for the first time; not the second but the third”.
According to Mr. Akinwunmi, the laws setting up APCON and the membership of its Council/Board are very clear. “The Chairman MUST be a registered practitioner and a Fellow of the profession; not even a honourary fellow but a professional Fellow. The government appointees must come via the Minister for Information. The other members must come from the sectorial groups, with the AAAN supplying the majority”.
What we have now is a breach, he declared while adding that the Information Minister may not have been consulted in drawing up the list of those the government announced. “And of course it is illegal. It’s a shame that the same government that set up APCON with very clear guidelines on the board composition will casually flout the same law by appointing politicians who have no relevance to the profession, and are not qualified to take up such positions”, he stated.
As a reprieve, Akinwunmi hopes, as in the past when the same error was committed, there will be a reversal and the right thing done. “For now, Hon Jacob Sunday and the others must not be sworn in. Doing so is an act of illegality”, he submitted.
Speaking on the issue, renowned advertising practitioner and Chairman Troyka Group, Mr. Biodun Shobanjo miffed at the incessant flouting of APCON rules by the Federal Government which according to him is an unwarranted affront on the constitution of the country.
In his characteristic matter of fact attitude, Mr. Shobanjo finds a relationship between the incessant ugly occurrences and government’s funding of the Council.
“As it is often said, he who pays the piper calls the tune. For as long as the government continues to fund APCON, so long will it continue to appoint politicians and whomsoever or assume the right to meddle in the affairs of APCON. Except APCON is able to fund itself, this nonsense and illegality will continue,” he disclosed.
Continuing, the Troyka Chairman said, “I hold the view that government has no understanding of what APCON represents. They think it is such a big organization that can provide avenue for its board to throw some weight around and possibly do some chopping.”
Sounding a bit sarcastic but with all seriousness, Kelechi Nwosu, Managing Director and immediate past president, AAAN said, “If the ‘Honourable gentleman’ if that is not a wrong prefix, has been appointed in defiance of the process and laws of APCON , we need to ensure that Government, is yet again, made to notice of how they desecrate the laws of the land.”
It does appear to Kelechi that Federal Government does not learn from its mistakes. “It is therefore not a surprise that we are a poorly, developing country. This is sad for a Ministry of Communication headed by a man who should know better. We are again disappointed and frustrated at how this FG functions”, he declared.
Also making his comments on the development which he tagged as “sad and unbecoming” of the government, Steve Babaeko, CEO, X3M Ideas said its same old merry-go-round though it becomes more painful as the council concerned is set up based on government’s enabling laws which is laid down in black and white. In clear, unambiguous terms, it says a chairman for the APCON council must be a fellow of the profession, he explained. How come the government as a matter of habit flouts its own laws? Steve wondered!
For him, it is rather baffling that the government cannot set of the APCON council without recourse to this time wasting, unwarranted provocation and creating so much confusion in the system. “The President needs to do the needful in accordance with the enabling laws setting up the council”, he affirmed.
While we were yet to receive comments from the AAAN President, Mr. Kayode Oluwasona as at time of filing this report, findings reveals the AAAN is making moves to get the attention of the Minister of Information, Alh. Lai Mohammed on the issue.
The move which is being made through the AAAN Committee on Government Relations Liaison Committee led by the Group Chief Executive Officer of Centerspread Group, Mr. Kola Ayanwale as Chairman. The committee in conjunction with other stakeholders is scheduled to meet with the Minister on 2nd January 2018 to present a formal protest letter in respect of the of the “unacceptable nominations” for the APCON council.
The AAAN Government Liaison Committee Chairman is said to have described the so called appointment as illegal, null and void and of no effect, adding that what was purportedly announced was in clear contradiction of the original list submitted to the federal government for a long period now.
Mr. Ayanwale promised that no stone would be left unturned to get the so called appointments reversed as advertising is a specialized field that can only be regulated by the initiated.