Honour and Foundation for the Practice of the Advertising Profession

Address on the occasion of the investiture of the first Vice Patrons of the Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (AAPN) and the launching of an Appeal Fund for the Advertising Academy on Wednesday 14th April, 1993 at the Nicon-Noga Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

I recall with much delight that the Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (AAPN) was the first professional organization to pay me a visit on 7 January 1992 under a month after the seat of Government was moved to the new Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Of course, much of the credit for that realization should go to President of the AAPN, President Chief Akin Odunsi who worked tirelessly to ensure that government and Nigerian advertising practitioners are constructively engaged and partners in furthering the goals of social cohesion and economic development of our country. It is in this context that I feel gratified to note that the new executive of your Association has remained steadfast in treading this path of profitable collaboration between the government, the larger society and the advertising profession. This positive inclination is palpable in the choice of AAPN’s events for which we are gathered today to celebrate.

I see today’s double occasion as an appropriate effort by Nigerian Advertising Practitioners to be more responsive to their clientele and to be better able to attract new ones. By electing to honour personages who have rendered invaluable service and support to the AAPN has shown that it knows how to sustain and portray their worthy clients as ambassadors of the Association and of advertising as a profession as well as an industry. And by conceiving of an Advertising Academy to train up-and-coming generations of practitioners, the AAPN has demonstrated that it intends to expand and deepen the advertising market through improved skills and services.

A Note of Honour

Permit me therefore to say a few words about the four eminent compatriots being honoured today as Vice Patrons of the Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria. These are men who have in diverse ways and through countless institutions impacted positively not only on the advertising profession, and industry but also on our collective well-being as a nation. In particular, they have played highly facilitative roles in ensuring the dynamism and expansion of the national economy through their activities in various sectors of business and government.

I congratulate Bashorun M. K. 0. Abiola, Alhaji (Dr) Hassan Adamu, Mr. Oludayo Sonuga and Professor Sam Egite Oyovbaire for their richly deserved honour. I congratulate also the AAPN for having the collective presence of mind to give honour to whom it is due. It is my prayers that the distinguished award recipients of today shall continue to merit honour and recognition not only from this Association but also from our appreciative country to which they have rendered such invaluable services over the years.

Advertising Academy: a Noble Venture

As can be seem from the programme, the investiture ceremony of these gentlemen is only one aspect of today’s occasion. The second has to do with the launching of an appeal fund for the proposed Advertising Academy to be sited in Abuja for which I shall be laying the foundation stone shortly.

In his address earlier at this ceremony, the AAPN President, Mr May Nzeribe, endeavoured to provide justification for his Academy, especially in view of the fact that there are already several institutions offering cognate intellectual and vocational training. The case he has made for the establishment of this Academy as a distinct institution is both persuasive and unassailable. I congratulate the President and his colleagues, especially the members of the Education and Research Task Fund of the AAPN for the commitment and foresight made evident in their articulation of the- novel initiative. I wish to identify closely with this noble venture and to pray for the speedy completion of the project.

Needless to say, a project of this magnitude requires all the support it can get. Therefore I call on all of us here present to render generous assistance towards its completion so that Nigeria will be able to boast of yet another premier institution on the African continent devoted to the development of vitally needed manpower in this important sector of the economy.

No doubt, the founding of an educational institution for the training of advertising practitioners will go a long way in further elevating the profession intellectually and prestige-wise. There can be no gainsaying the fact that now, more than ever, our country presents the advertising profession and industry with novel challenges. In the areas of consumer protection, issue articulation, product packaging and industrial relations, new skills are now required if our advertising professionals are to match their colleagues in other countries. The expectations are high indeed, hence the appropriateness of the founding of this Academy.

Exhortation and Charge

As practitioners of the trade, I urge members of the AAPN to deploy your awesome persuasive skills and communication expertise towards the attainment of positive ends. You should stand up to be counted in the fight against disunity and injurious propaganda. The advertising profession should readily make its services available in promoting national goals especially by helping to spread the message of peace and progress to the populace during this last phase of the transition programme of my Administration. As people who make a living through the business of human relations, you have a vested interest in the peace and prosperity of this country, and the performance of your professional duties should therefore at all times, reflect this f act.

Also, there is need to bring the requirements of social responsibility to bear on the pursuit of the profit motive in the advertising business. Where the contents or active ingredients of a product are such as to render it infamous or hazardous to health and unfit for human consumption, it should be your professionally conscientious duty not to accept the consultancy to sell it. The weight of moral suasion which your rejection of being the agency for injurious substances carries can, if sustained over a long period, affect the profitability of such products, and, hopefully, expedite their disappearance from the market.

Distinguished Advertising Practitioners, as with goods and products, so it should be with services. The proliferation of dubious advertisements promising non-existent jobs and scholarships abroad has now become a huge stain on your profession and on the image of our country. It is part of your professional responsibility to check this trend and, where the need arises, to enlist the help of security agencies in fishing out those behind these fake advertisements.

On its own part, government has not ceased to show its commitment to the growth of a vibrant advertising profession in Nigeria. The promulgation of Decree No. 55 of 1988 as well as the recent moves to deregulate ownership of the electronic media are just a couple of the facilitative measures made by my Administration to help to realize the full professionalization of advertising practice in Nigeria. I sincerely hope that you will continue to earn the confidence reposed in you through these measures.

I also hope that the AAPN will pay closer attention to the role of advertising practitioners in projecting a good image for our country in the eyes of the outside world. There can be no denying the fact that the way you advertising practitioners carry your business of selling goods and serv­ices plays a great part in forming the opinions that foreigners have of our country. Where you put out fantastic adverts, you may unwittingly be portraying the country and its businessmen in a derisive light; and where you lend your expertise to fuelling campaigns of calumny about the coun­try, this may scare away potential friends. At all times, therefore, there is need for you to remember that whatever you put out as advertisements is being read and heard not just by Nigerians, but by foreigners resident in the country and even outside Nigeria.

Commendation and Dedication

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me congratulate, once again, today’s distinguished honorees for their richly deserved recognition. I also wish to commend the AAPN for the efforts which its officials and members have continued to make towards the professional development of this business sector in our society and economy and the improvement of the larger Nigerian society. These efforts are receiving a boost today with the launching of the appeal fund for the Advertising Academy. I therefore call on all men and women of goodwill to support this noble effort so that the goals of the AAPN sets out to achieve would become realisable within the shortest possible time frame.