WITHIN three years of its existence, the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency, LASAA has made its presence known in different ways.
Its lingering issues with outdoor advertisers, some of them in court, the improvement in the look of the city, and the earlier dismantling of billboards that did not meet its standards that LASAA are some of the ways.
LASAA is powerful. Outdoor advertisers quake at its activities that almost drove many of them out of business. â€œVirtually all outdoor advertisements are within the scope of the Lagos State Structures for Signage & Advertisement Agency Law, 2006.
The Lagos State Signage & Advertisement Agency, LASAA, is in charge of all first party signage (shops and businesses), second party signage (directional and informational), and third party signage (billboards, outdoor and out-of-home advertising) in Lagos State,â€ LASAA boasts on its website.
â€œThe aim of the Lagos State Structures for Signage and Advertisement Agency Law 2006,â€ the message continued, â€œis to regulate and control outdoor advertising and signage in Lagos State. All advertisements affect the appearance of the building structure or the place (and by extension the environment) where they are displayed.
The main purpose of the advertisement control system is to ensure that everybody involved in the display of outdoor advertising contributes positively to the appearance of an attractive and cared-for environment in the cityâ€.
Stakeholders in outdoor advertising accuse LASAA of bullying. They say it seizes billboard spaces and allocates them to favoured organisations. They also see LASAAâ€™s stiff control over billboards as impeding commercial interests of their clients who are made to pay high taxes, without the rights to use billboards to get out their messages.
When LASAA stepped in and set the standards for billboards, one of the first things that happened was shortage of billboards as many spaces previously in use were ruled unsuitable for billboards.
Expectedly, prices of renting billboards shot up. They have remained high as no new sites are being accessed. What LASAA has done is to regulate billboards to a point outdoor advertisers claim the rules for demolishing billboards are unclear. Some demolished spaces quickly have other billboards LASAA approved filling the places.
LASAA said those claims are part of the blackmail of practitioners who cannot meet the standards it has set to modernise outdoor advertising in Lagos State.
It is however important that outdoor advertising practice, including LASAAâ€™s regulations, reflect interests that would promote Lagosâ€™ leaning as Nigeriaâ€™s commercial capital. Outdoor advertising is important for the sustenance of businesses.
The lesson about powerful organisations like LASAA is that though they may do well, it is crucial that the interests of the public they serve are protected.
Government must have ways of monitoring activities of these organisations and responding to public complaints against them.
If LASAA is meant to serve the public, it must do its job well, such that other States trying to create their own agencies could imitate LASAAâ€™s high considerations for public interests.