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Out-of-home Ad operators appeal to government for debt cancellation to cushion effect of Covid-19

Operators in Nigeria’s outdoor advertising industry who are burdened by the challenging economic environment worsened by the effects of Covid-19 has passionately appealed to the government for debt cancellation incurred on vacant bill boards as palliative extended to other industries within this period.

Despite high operational cost, multiple taxations, insecurity, infrastructure deficit and advertising budget cut by companies, outdoor advertisers are unfortunately charged fees by Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA) on empty billboards.

In the spirit of palliatives to other sectors to cushion the effects of Covid-19 on businesses, members of Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN) pleaded with the authorities to revisit vacant site policy of the government. “This is because a lot of debts that our members are carrying are traceable to bills sent on sites that did not enjoy any display”, Emmanuel Ajufo, the President of the body said at the OAAN 35th yearly meeting recently. This year the meeting was held virtually.

He strongly believed that there can be no better time than now to ask for the cancellation of the debts owed as a result of bills on vacant sites. It will be recalled that government recently granted a 60% debt cancellation to broadcasting industry on license fees.

Ajufo noted that OAAN members too have not shied away from giving their own form of palliatives which runs into multiples of millions of Naira. “Recognising that our clients have been badly affected by the Covid-19, we gave a whopping 25% discount on our rates from May to end of September 2020, to the advertisers. On government side, our members have also been displaying Covid-19 messages pro-bono”, he said.

The meeting themed, ‘’OOH Business and Emerging Realities” had heads of key sectoral bodies in attendance, addressed the Covid-19 pandemic-induced challenges bedevilling the industry, and proffered solutions capable of lifting the advertising sub-sector out of its present doldrums.

The OAAN boss also decried the state of the advertising industry, citing the prolonged absence of APCON Council as the bane of the sub-sector. “Our industry is like a flock of sheep without a shepherd. This is because APCON has no Council, and this has been going on even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic”.

The APCON Acting Registrar, Ijedi Iyoha, during her presentation during the meeting, thanked the OAAN leadership and captains of other sectoral bodies for living up to the billing despite the daunting challenges presented by the pandemic.

“I must commend OAAN and all the sectoral bodies for meeting the challenges, posed by the global pandemic, head on.

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