‘Help us, our industry is dying!’
•Outdoor advertisers protest against illegal display of campaign posters in Lagos, lament loss of N350m on cancelled contracts
OVER a thousand outdoor advertisers yesterday took to the streets of Lagos, in protest of illegal display of posters and banners by politicians and their loyalists.
Such indiscriminate displays on streetlight poles, which are already assigned to some companies, have brought the advertisers “bad market” and huge loss of revenue, they claimed.
All dressed in white shirts, the aggrieved officials and workers of various advertising agencies, matched through Mobolaji Bank Way down to Maryland, to draw attention to their plight. Among them were engineers, architects, painters, printers, dryers among others – all of who are at the risk of job loss.
With their banners, they decried what they described as “illegalities, impunity, intimidation and disrespect for rule of law,” by politicians. On placard displays were: “Outdoor industry is dying”; “Enough is enough”; Enough of impunity”; “No to intimidation”; “We say no to lawlessness”; “Don’t destroy: The law must be obeyed”, among others.
More disturbing, they said, is the “impunity” being perpetrated by members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who are allegedly removing legitimate banners to replace the same with those of their candidates.
Managing Director of Lagos State Advertising Agency (LASAA), George Noah, said the protest was meant to condemn the reign of lawlessness that is ongoing.
Noah who led the protest, said the action, especially by the PDP, is illegal and inconsiderate on the group just doing their honest day job.
He said the people of Lagos State must recognise that the law gives LASAA the authority to control and regulate outdoor businesses in the State, adding that they shall, therefore, continue to fight for the right of all practitioners and stakeholders in the outdoor business.
“We are telling them that you cannot come to Lagos State with impunity and disturb the business of honest hardworking men and women, who toil day and night to ensure that they make a decent living.”
“We are telling them that Lagosians are watching them. They think that in the name of electioneering, they can come, cheat people and break the law because they want people’s vote. Lagosians are watching them and they can decide. Today, outdoor advertisers say no to impunity,” Noah said.
He noted that PDP loyalists and men of the Federal Task Force had been busy mounting posters on streetlight poles already paid for by some companies.
It was gathered that companies like Globacom and Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, had cancelled their contracts on the Third Mainland Bridge stretch, bringing the total loss to about N350 million.
LASAA, as the coordinating and outdoor regulatory agency in Lagos, has also commenced legal action, vowing to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion.
Noah added that there was never a time the ruling party had consulted the agency for advert space, saying it amounts to gross misconduct to just take posters and banners to the streets and on lampposts erected and maintained by the State government without permission.
Continuing, he said: “It is bad business. At a time we in this country are trying to attract foreign investments, we are sending bad signals to foreign investors because we are telling them that even if you sign a contract, a government or political party could come and decide against it. That is the dangerous signal we are sending,” he stressed.
One of the protesters, Kehinde Abatan, told The Guardian that the implication of the cancelled contracts was already felt in their offices, even as the fear of downsizing is mounting as the month comes to an end.
Abatan said they were left with no option than to bring their plight to the knowledge of the public, hoping that the concerned parties would see reason.
One of the outdoor stakeholders, Yomi Idowu of Conveneant Giant noted that outdoor business in Lagos was in solidarity with LASAA, saying in Lagos, LASAA has always cleaned up the environment and brought value to outdoor business in the metropolis.
According to him: “Now, there is value in outdoor business to the delight of all the stakeholders. But if we continue to see illegal posting of political posters, it portends that the value of our business would go down and that is why we say we cannot allow that to happen.
““We have gone through all the guildlines that LASAA provided and we don’t see why anyone cannot apply for advert placement on some of these outdoor boards. We are just starting off and we are saying we don’t want the collapse of outdoor advertising in lagos,” he said.
In the same vein, Executive Director of Centre for Rights and Grassroots Initiative (CRGI), Nelson Ekujumi said they decided to join in the protest because of their believe in the rule of law, saying they were supporting LASAA against pasting of illegal political posters because LASAA being a creation of law, is still operating within its mandate.
He said: “LASAA is a creation of law of Lagos State, which is within the jurisdiction of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In essence, anyone doing business in Lagos must abide by the laws of the state. We are disappointed that the Nigeria Police can join in the fray to threaten LASAA and thereby ,threaten the fundamental and economic rights of Nigerians.”