By Adekunle Adekoya
ONE very nice thing happened to Nigerians and Nigeria as the week just ending opened. The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria, ARCON, announced a ban on the use of foreign voice-over artistes and models with effect from October 1. Let me reproduce a statement issued to that effect by Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, Director-General of ARCON:
“ARCON, being the apex advertising, advertisement and marketing communications’ regulatory agency of the Federal Government, has, in accordance with its statutory mandates, responsibilities and powers as conveyed by the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria Act No. 23 of 2022, bans use of foreign models and voice-over artists on any advertisement targeted at the Nigerian advertising space with effect from October 1, 2022.”
Personally, I am very happy with this development, which, Fadolapo said, is in line with the Federal Government’s policy to develop local talent and inclusive economic growth for all sectors, including advertising. However, my happiness is moderated by the conviction that this should have happened immediately the marketing communications regulatory agency was created more than 30 years ago. Be reminded that what we used to have was APCON — Advertising Practioners Council of Nigeria, created via a decree in 1988 under the Babangida administration. The new ARCON Act, 2022, recently signed into law, enabled the agency to change its name.
If we had this since inception of APCON or a just a few years later, I can bet one year’s pay that the marketing communications industry and its affiliates would have grown far beyond what we are seeing now, in terms of capacity, earnings, creativity, contribution to GDP, and many more. But let’s be grateful to God that at least, we have woken up to the possibilities and potentials that exist and are waiting to be unleashed when we go fully Nigerian. I have always felt sad whenever I saw commercials about products for sale in Nigeria with foreign voice-overs.
It’s even worse for me with foreign models. But beyond all that is the consideration that many of these commercials were shot outside the country with the foreign models and voice-over artistes charging in quantum what the Nigerian would charge. Only God knows how many billions of dollars had gone down the drains with these. Surely, it must have now dawned on us how the marketing communications industry can help shore up the value of the Naira, which has seen some buffeting in the last few months.
To this end, I congratulate ARCON, despite misgivings expressed in some quarters. It’s the way to go. It is also something that other regulatory agencies should start implementing with fanatic zeal if we are to help our country get out of the economic doldrums she is in. In the automobile industry, there are a few local players, even if they are assemblers.
Let’s go back to them. If we patronise, by regulatory enforcement, vehicles made or assembled in Nigeria, we’ll be taking a huge step forward. Also, in the area of ICT, we stand to conserve a lot of foreign exchange if the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, decides to toe the ARCON line by enforcing local content in the consumption of ICT products. Imagine the financial, technological, and educational capacity that would be unleashed if all federal ministries, agencies, and departments are using only Made-in-Nigeria computers!
Then, if the states follow, I can assure you, fellow compatriots, that in just one quarter of a century — 25 years to you — the transformation that would have been achieved would make us the envy of today’s tiger economies of South-East Asia. In fact, the financial rewards will help immensely in paying our way out of the dept trap we senselessly plunged ourselves into in the last five years.
From what we can see in the social media, evidenced by the skits being made by our youths, there exist untapped goldmines of creativity in our own languages and cultures that can be used to sell any product. A lot have gone bad because nobody is telling anybody how to do things right in the national interest. I have always wondered what the national interest exists for a company in Nigeria, maker of fast moving consumer goods, fmcgs, having foreigners as marketing directors and public relations managers!
Just look around, they exist in their hundreds, doing jobs that ONLY Nigerians are qualified for! What worsens the case for me is that the Federal Ministry of Labour & Employment, the trade unions — NLC and TUC, do not see these as issues worthy of their attention. In some countries, foreigners are not allowed to drive their own vehicles; as an expatriate, you must hire a local to drive you. That way, they keep jobs open for their people. Here, we don’t. In fact, we venerate everything foreign. As I said earlier, thank God we’ve woken up, even if it’s the morning after.
Other regulatory bodies must rise up to their mandates with fanatic zeal and help lift our country out of the economic morass she got plunged into. If regulators alone DO THEIR JOBS very well, without let or hindrance, we can still regain the paradise lost. Regulators, onto your marks!