The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) has come under serious criticism in recent time, following the unrestricted breaches of the code of advertising ethics by politicians and the mass media during the 2015 electioneering campaigns. Godwin Anyebe writes.
Advertising is certainly an essential segment of any economy that strives for growth and development as it serves as a vehicle that promotes the economy and expands its frontiers for business in all sectors. To this end, analysts believe that any economy of the world that craves for growth and development must pay special attention to its advertising industry.
For this segment of the economy to attain its full potential and as well safeguard the larger society from the activities of unregulated campaign and other self-serving interests, various countries of the world adopt various forms of regulations with the overall objective of protecting consumers and citizens from the effects of unhealthy campaign.
However, the Advertising Practitioner’s Council of Nigeria (APCON), a body that is saddled with the responsibility of regulating advertising activities in Nigeria is still engulfed in some critical challenges. The body has in time past called on the National Assembly to help find a lasting solution to the unbridled increase of quacks in the advertising sector of the economy. It has also appealed to the lawmakers on the urgent need to protect local advertising business from total invasion by foreign practitioners.
The plea by the advertising industry regulators on how to protect local advertising from total invasion by foreign practitioners seems to be just a part of their challenges, as the body also cried out on the issue of inadequate technology to monitor campaigns efficiently which can easily be overcome when there is adequate funding.
Though it is believed in some quarter that the body has not lived up to its expectations, others are of the view that, advertising in all ramifications in Nigeria has not received adequate attention by the government which is required for its effective performance as a regulator of such a critical function as commercial communications.
Speaking on this issue to the Honorable Minister of Information, Senator Patricia Akwashike, during a familiarisation tour to APCON Head Office recently in Lagos, the APCON registrar, Alhaji Bello Kankrofi said; “we are all witnesses to the unrestricted breaches of the code of advertising by politicians and the mass media during the 2015 electioneering campaigns. A properly empowered APCON would have been able to stem the ugly tide that it saw. It is essential that before we go into the general elections in 2019, something is done to equip the regulatory agencies to prevent such decent to scurrilous communications that undermine the country’s democratic choice”.
Among other things, the registrar stated that, with the way and manner television and radio stations are springing up every now and again in the country, APCON is finding it difficult to monitor every campaign. And for the council to effectively monitor advertising on different medium most especially, the electronic space, there is a need for the body to acquire latest technologies to facilitate that.
While lamenting on how the body has been neglected by government, the registrar disclosed that, “if government had appreciated the enormity of power wielded by commercial enterprise – big and small, organisations, institutions and sometimes, individual who sponsor and benefit from advertising as well as the media organizations who provide the platforms for exposure of advertisements in return for the revenue that sustain their operations, it would have appreciated the amount of investments in infrastructure and human-resources as well as legal framework required to adequately regulate and police the advertising environment”.
According to him, the time has come to revisit the law establishing APCON with the view to correcting the fundamental flaws that delay or hamstring enforcement of appropriate sanctions against of the law and code of advertising.
He however called on the ministry of information to come to the aid of the council, as this is not first time the council is reiterating these challenges to the government and hope that this very one will yield a positive result. A child does not stop shouting until what is discomforting him is removed. He added.
Responding to the council’s pleas, the Honorable Minister of Information, Senator Patricia Akwashiki, said she thought APCON being a body that is surrounded with multinational and viable sectorial bodies will always have help when the need arises.
Nonetheless, the minister promised to do everything within her disposal to ensure that the incoming regime will take into cognisance these challenges of an organisation that is no doubt doing a great job in Nigerians as it always try to ensure that the citizens of this great nation are not deceived by unwholesome campaign.