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Pitch Fees, Tax issues on the Card as APCON Registrar Reels Out Plans for 2021

The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) plays a major role in the regulation of advertising practice and related areas in the country. Its role is not different from other regulatory bodies in other countries.

However, the council has been without a substantive head since the retirement of Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi as Registrar and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This has led the integrated marketing communications (IMC) community to call on the government to appoint a new substantive registrar as quickly as possible despite Mrs. Jedi Iyoha serving there in an acting capacity then. So the news of the appointment of Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, a former Executive Secretary of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) came as cheerful news.

Meanwhile, for the experiential marketing industry, his appointment in 2020 did not just come as a piece of cheerful news but recorded a positive result for the sector. Recall that APCON officially recognised the Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria (EXMAN) as a sectoral body in the nation’s advertising business.

To officially welcome the new registrar to the IMC industry, Brand Communicator in collaboration with AAAN recently organised a high-profile event tagged “IMC industry Grand Reception” held at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, Lagos.

Commenting on the appointment of the new registrar, the president of EXMAN, Tade Adekunle said, "With his wealth of experience there is no doubt that he will consolidate on the initiatives of his predecessor, Mrs. Iyoha, and ensure that APCON is well-positioned to exercise its role in regulating advertising in Nigeria."

It is noteworthy that Dr. Olalekan is a registered advertising practitioner and a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN); he left the services of AAAN to join APCON.

Dr. Olalekan Reels out Plans

Some of the Registrar and CEO plans on regulating and uplifting the standard of advertising practice in Nigeria include industry reform, solving tax-related issues, pitch rejection fees, copyright issues, agencies pitching for government communications jobs, among others.

Correspondingly, IMC practitioners tasked APCON to ensure that it adheres to growth-based regulations that will help strengthen the industry rather than killing the industry businesses.

Commenting on the state of regulation in the country, Dr. Olalekan said, “Nigeria is the only country in Africa that practices double regulatory system as at today; we have the government regulatory system and self-regulatory system. In other markets, it is purely self-regulation. The sectoral group comes together they outline best business practices, they sign MoU and it becomes a law, but in Nigeria, we always find it difficult to conclude that process.”

Therefore, he said that he is working on how to bring the sectoral group to work together, in the interest of having an industry all can be proud of.

On the industry reform, “Again the industry reform has been a major challenge. The industry reform can create jobs, the industry reform will improve the Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) of APCON and the government, and it will help us stabilise our industry. I spoke to the president of all the sectoral groups and they all agreed we need to go ahead with the industry reform,” he explained.

He added that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has already approved it but there are some challenges that need to be taken care of before the industry review is fully implemented which include court cases.

Meanwhile, the council is in talk with the National Assembly and the bill is set for the second reading, stating that, “APCON is here to regulate and not to kill the industry. We are not regulating to strangulate, and we are regulating to bring the best out of every one of us”

In another vein, he said he is in talks with Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and they plan to set up a help desk for the advertising industry to listen and ensure that issues that relate to the industry are resolved, adding that some of the issues are double taxation; application of withholding tax and others. He said those that do not practice advertising may not understand the fundamentals, stating that the withholding tax should be applied to the net income.

He added that the sectoral groups have already sent their report to APCON and it will be meeting with FIRS soon on some of the tax-related challenges its members are facing.

Another issue he pointed out is the issue of copyright the industry is facing. He said the DG of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) told him that most of the issues of the copyright at the court can be resolved at the industry level. “Today, APCON is talking to NCC on the possibility of setting up a help desk for agencies that need advice on ownership of copyright and copyright issues. We will be organising a webinar soon and the DG has agreed to speak on this issue.”

In another vein, he stated, “One of the major projects of the government is the digital switchover; APCON has been requested to manage the audience measurement aspect of the digital switchover.”

On a different note, he said APCON members do not get most of the government jobs, and APCON certification is not listed on qualification requirements for hiring professionals for government jobs while it is currently in talks with the Bureau of Public Service Reforms on amending that.

On when APCON council will be inaugurated, he said, “Do not forget it is not that they did not appoint members for the council, but the members that were appointed were not selected in line with the establishment act of APCON, consequently they cannot be inaugurated and as at today the honourable minister has written to the president, the letter is with the chief of staff and am also aware that the presidency is looking into the issue and soon a new council may be announced.”

Some of the heads of sectoral groups including top government officials and key stakeholders from the IMC industry were present at the event and commended Dr. Olalekan for the good job done so far. One after the other from Steve Babaeko, AAAN President to Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi, former APCON Registrar/ CEO; Bunmi Adeniba, Acting ADVAN President; Tade Adekunle, EXMAN President; Chairman, Segun McMedal, Lagos Chapter, NIPR; Gboyega Akosile, Chief Press Secretary to the Lagos State Governor, among others urged Dr. Olalekan to uplift the standard of advertising in the country, be fair to all, embark on friendly regulations and help solve some of the challenges confronting the industry.

Adeola Akanni

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