It’s been a year since Nigerians kicked out the ruling People’s Democratic Party but it seems like the All Progressives Congress is yet to balance it’s books.
Operators of outdoor advertising business in Nigeria say their survival is under threat if government fails to come to their aid, as they accuse the Lagos State government of owing them over N1 billion.
The N1 billion is the total sum resulting from allotted sites for President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s 2015 election campaign.
According to Vanguard, members of the Outdoor Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, OAAN, lament that despite being owed such amounts of money, they are still being haunted with high rate of charges by states on both redundant and occupied billboards.
President of the Association, Babatunde Adedoyin told Vanguard that the sector is groaning under serious economic crunch which is noticed on about 70 percent of member company billboards nationwide.
“The economy for us is in total recession, in a situation like this, there is no way it would not affect our industry. As we speak, about 70 per cent of our billboards are redundant. Clients are cutting budgets. Some are not sure of what they want to do this year and some can’t even access foreign exchange to bring in raw materials and since they do not have raw materials they can’t produce, hence they can’t advertise.
“For the first quarter of this year, there are no media orders from most companies, some of them are still trying to put things together because of the uncertainty that we are facing today. That is the basic truth and I can’t start mentioning organisations. Some are even owing the last two quarters of last year; I am talking about multinationals.
“The regulators are looking for money; Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency, LASAA is trying to collect money at all costs and everybody is looking for ways to get money from operators because allocation coming from the centre is little or nothing, therefore most of them are now thinking that there are internally generated revenues, IGR, and unfortunately those of us they are trying to get the money from are having the same problem.
“Our clients are not doing well, they are not giving orders, they are not paying. This is not peculiar to Lagos it is in all the states. Right now, our boards are being pulled down in Kaduna, Rivers, Abuja and we have been to all these places and the story is all the same except that charges in Lagos is higher may be because they are the pioneer of these agencies. For sure, we don’t have any sympathy from them, that is the truth.”
On whether Lagos and the association have been able to strike a rapport, he quipped: “First and foremost we have not settled anything with Lagos. We are still discussing. We are trying to arrive at an amicable solution. We are praying and hoping that in a short time this would come to an end. You know this is a professional association and as a company you are compelled to practice in all the states of the federation. We have some of our members practising in the East, in the West and those practising only in Lagos, and whatever policy that we have, members should be safe whether practising in Lagos or elsewhere. That is why we decided not to hold our annual general meetings in Lagos alone.
“As I speak someone is in Kaduna and Abuja doing some discussion with the regulators there. It is a professional association and the policy is the same whether you are in Lagos, Abeokuta or Uyo their problem there is our problem here. Because today you might be in Lagos and tomorrow may want to practice in Uyo.”
On what drives rates, Emmanuel Ajufo, Vice President of the association stated that “there was a fixed rate, but with the advent of LASAA, the rate went up by over 1000 per cent and so the regulators want to make money, but like we keep telling them, Nigeria today has oil but have nowhere to sell it. “We are telling them to allow us pay to the extent we have also received but they are not reasoning, and we must get them to understand that. “If they can take what has been received, then they should also allow us to pay what we have also received.”