By Buchi James
Determined to ensure effective, standard and responsible advertising in Enugu State, in accordance with provisions of the law and international best practices, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, on Wednesday, inaugurated the board of Enugu State Structures for Signage and Advertisement Agency with the Commissioner for Local Government Matters, Barr. Peter Okonkwo as chairman, and Mr. Ike Celestine Ezugwu as General Manager of the agency.
Other members of the inaugurated board include, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga; representative of Advertisement Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Mr. Ikechukwu Onu; representatives of Outdoor Advertising Agency of Nigeria (OAAN), Mr. Chobby Eneh and Mr. Uche Ekwueme, and chairmen of the 17 local government areas.
Inaugurating the board at the Government House, Enugu, Gov. Ugwuanyi, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Simon Uchenna Ortuanya, emphasised the crucial role of advertising in the socio-economic development of the society.
The governor pointed out that there has been loss of revenue and deterioration of advertising in the state because of the activities of quacks and flagrant abuse of regulations, stressing that “advertising practitioners have engaged in sharp practices and Enugu metropolis and other semi-urban cities have been defaced with billboards”.
He, therefore, charged the new board to regulate and control advertising in the state, ensure that advertising practitioners operate professionally, responsibly and ethically, ensure the ambience that advertisement creates and restore the beauty of the state capital and its environs, among others.
Gov. Ugwuanyi, who disclosed that the members of the board were selected based on their track records as professionals, stated they are expected to bring their wealth of experience to bear in ensuring the improvement of advertising practice in the state.
Earlier in his speech, the chairman of the board and Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Barr. Okonkwo, said the state government’s decision to constitute the agency was “because of the public outcry on double taxation, flagrant abuse of advertising principles in the state and the need to integrate and regulate all the activities of the practitioners”.
He added that all the chairmen of the 17 local government areas of the state were included in the integration “so that a synergy will be created whereby a unified agency will oversee the activities”.
On his part, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Edeoga, commended the governor for the bold initiative, which he said, was the first of its kind in the entire South East and South South geo-political zones.
“We have an agency like this in Lagos and it is making a lot of changes with regard to discipline in the erection of billboards and signage as well as the chaos that characterise such acts”, he said.
The environment commissioner expressed confidence that the agency’s positive impact will be felt in the state, stressing the need for collaboration between the state government and the local government, which he was constitutionally responsible for advertisements, for business to thrive in the state.
Responding, the General Manager of the agency, Mr. Ezugwu, thanked Gov. Ugwuanyi for finding them worthy “to be in this particular agency”, maintaining that “the state of outdoor advertising in the state is nothing to write home about”.