We’ve changed the face of outdoor in Abia –DG, ABSAA

MR Gan Alozie is the Director-General Abia State Signage and Advertising Agency (ABSAA). In almost four years in the saddle, Alozie has changed the face of outdoor advertisement in Abia bringing sanity and orderliness to the ambience and environment especially in Umuahia, the state capital. Here he shares his views on the challenges and achievements as a government regulatory agency. Excerpts:

Surmounting initial obstacles

One of the major challenges we faced when we started was lack of materials and manpower resources to enable us to carry out our regulatory assignment as a government regulator in the outdoor advertising sector. But along the line, we surmounted this obstacle with the active support of our able governor, His Excellency, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu and we were able to forge ahead. And also, you know that people don’t like to change the way they have been doing things, we faced some pockets of resistance from people with old, sub-standard signages and dilapidated billboards across the state, most especially in the state capital, Umuahia but with regular and consistent enlightenment and education on the need to maintain standard and reduce cluttering in the outdoor advertising display, they eventually saw reason with us and cooperated. We had a series of meetings with corporate signages and billboards owners, individual outdoor advertisers, traders and artisans associations to achieve our objectives.

Achievements so far

In our over three years of operations, we have had some modest achievements. First, ABSAA has contributed to the beautification of the state capital, Umuahia by reducing cluttering in the way billboards are erected and how signages are placed. Our intention is to ensure that these standards are maintained in the nooks and crannies of the state. Secondly, ABSAA through its activities has contributed to the IGR (Internally Generated Revenue ) of Abia State. Now you can’t just erect any billboard or signage anywhere in the state without ABSAA’s approval. You have to come to us and we will ensure that you meet the approved standards and pay the approved regulatory fees before you can mount your billboard or place signage. Thirdly, also, when we came on board we placed a total prohibition on the indiscriminate posting or posters and banners across the state. And you can’t also hang any banner on the highway without ABSAA’s approval.

Challenge of political posters posting

Indiscriminate posting of political posters has become a thing of the past in Abia State. In the forthcoming political campaign, we have designed a format for aspirants to mount their billboards and post their posters. And one of the platforms we have now is the KekeAds. Politicians now irrespective of their political parties or affiliations can use the KekeAds which is a mobile cum transit advertising platform to run their campaign. They could also make use of the government lampposts across the state to run their campaigns. They can also make use of the government approve designated billboards. But all these outdoor platforms must be used in accordance with ABSAA’s regulatory standards. As a government regulatory agency, we’ll provide a level playground for a political candidate during the campaign.

Standards of outdoor advertising between Nigeria and abroad

In spite of the diverse challenges, we have in the country, Nigeria’s out-of-home industry has come of age and can compete conveniently in the international arena. The days of the nail, wood, plank and paste billboards and signages are gone and gone forever. We are in a digital age and when you drive around major Nigerian cities all you see are LED powered billboards with beautiful and captivating messages that hold the audience captive. And this trend is going to continue and be improved upon.

Moreover, with more people spending more time outside the home, outdoor advertising will remain relevant. Even though the advance in technology and advent of social media have reduced the income generated in the outdoor sector, I can tell you that to most brand owners, outdoor is still the preferred medium of communication with consumers.

Abia partnership with KekeAds

Yes, following the ban of keke (motor tricycle) in Imo State by the govern-ment, the advertising media, known as KekeAds recently relocated its operational base to Abia State. As the DG of ABSAA, I played a vital role in the current collaboration between Abia State Government and KekeAds. And this is in fulfillment of my role as a good citizen and a recognized supporter of the administration in Abia, alongside my engagements that express my function as the head of ABSAA. I collaborated with KekeAds in what we considered to be an innovative means of public enlightenment to engage in public sensitization of the people on some of the good works of this administration, which we all agree Abians need to go see for themselves. So following a meeting with the state Commissionerfor Information, it was agreed and confirm that the collaboration with KekeAds will be a precursor to allowing operators of keke who are partners with owners of KekeAds to extend their time of operations by Abia Government.

In fact we’ve found that KekeAds in the words of its founder, Esona Onuoha “is not just a strategic choice for effective public enlightenment and communication, it has also become a tool for social transformation, reformation and empowerment.” Because the platform is going to add value to the lives of the citizenry some of who are motor tricycle operators.

About Gan Alozie

Before veering into politics, I studied political science in the university. I travelled abroad and worked with Marks and Spencer. And on my return to Nigeria, I worked in a number of organizations including a marketing communication firm before starting out as an entrepreneur. I have business interest in real estate and the hospitality and tourism sector. I am married with children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *