WAR OF MOVIE POSTERS IN NIGERIA
THEY come in various sizes, shapes and colours and can be found at every nook and cranny of Lagos and all major urban centres in the country. They are usually pasted either very late in the evenings or as early as 5 a.m in the morning by fierce-looking men who could easily pass as “area boys”. Using starch and bulrushes, these paid agents paste the posters even on walls where it is boldly written: “Post no bills”. They are also pasted on newly built houses, walls of public and private buildings, under or atop bridges, road medians and on bill-boards. These posters usually convey different messages ranging from evangelism to politics, from new home video to schools canvassing for new pupils/students. With the 2007 elections around the corner, the number of this public nuisance has increased. Presently, there is no doubt that our urban towns are under a war of posters.
The recklessness at which these posters are used to “beautify” the environment is disturbing to environmentalists and other lovers of decency. And the verdict: Government should take appropriate measures to check this illegal practice which has become a source of livelihood for those hired to do the pasting.
Commenting on the ugly trend, the Vice President of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) Nigerian Chapter, Mr. Stephen Jagun described the scenario as a nuisance and an embarrassment. "It is an eyesore. People should learn to advertise in the proper way and not defacing the environment,” he said.
According to Mr. Jagun, who is also a Pastor of a leading pentecostal church in Nigeria, posters are not meant to be another form of decoration. He noted that when the information they set out to pass across expires, some of these posters are left there or carelessly torn by those who want to paste a fresh one, thus defacing the wall.
Mr. Jagun, an Estate Surveyor and Valuer and immediate past General Secretary of the Lagos State Branch of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), regretted that most of those who indulge in indiscriminate pasting of posters are actually trespassing on other people's property since fierce looking area boys are used to do the pasting, the property owners are afraid to challenge them.
“These people should look for legitimate ways of passing their messages across to their audience. The practice is not good for our society. Although they may look attractive at the beginning, but because the whole thing is being done indiscriminately, it has become a great nuisance to the environment,” he said.
Apart from defacing people's houses, the IFMA Vice President observed that some of these posters are placed on bill board adverts which the owners paid for. Placing posters on such bill boards, according to Jagun, defeats the purpose of bill board advertising.
He noted that with the increase in the tempo of political activities all over the country, “we now have all types of posters all over the place, and the politicians are trying to outdo one another”. He suggested that instead of indiscriminate pasting of posters, people should use hand bills and billboards to advertise their products and services. “In advanced countries, people leave small pieces of information on removable notice boards at strategic bus-stops. Alternatively they can produce handbills or fliers which must be properly disposed off when the messages have been read. We shouldn't take them and after reading, we throw them back on the streets,” he said.
“It is a criminal act to paste posters on signboards. The owners are paying the local governments for mounting those boards. Putting posters on such boards amounts to short-changing or cheating the person who owns the board. We must learn to do things decently and in order in this country,” Mr. Jagun said.
He advised home video producers to use the radio and TV stations to promote their new films instead of pasting, sometimes obscene pictures “everywhere, under the bridges, on top of bridges, on walls of public and private buildings”.
The IFMA second in command enjoined the regulators of advertising practice in the country to take steps to bring the violators of decent advertising practice to book. These people are not hidden. Their addresses and those of the printers are usually displayed boldly on the posters so they can be easily traced and brought to book. The government, according to the former NIESV scribe, should take steps to enforce its environmental laws to save the landscape from further degradation.
A newspaper columnist, Mr. Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye lamented the adverse effects of allowing all sorts of posters in public and private buildings.
His words: “One good thing about the explosion of posters in this society is that it has made us to become more aware of some of the dangers they constitute, which would appear not to have been very obvious all this while. Apart from the very fundamental matter of defacing the environment and robbing public and private structures of the very aesthetic qualities, they are supposed to contribute to the enhancement of the beauty of our surroundings, they provide ready and effective tools for all sorts of people with all sorts of messages, no matter how pernicious, to permeate society and people's consciousness with them.
There is also the issue of very offensive photographs, some bordering on crass pornography, rudely inflicted on people's eyes and sensibilities, as they walk or drive past the buildings where some of these posters are on display”.
Mr. Ejinkeonye lamented that “not much consideration is even extended to house-owners and occupants of buildings, who wake up each day to discover that their houses and fences have become casual billboards, for the propagation of vile messages that grossly offend their sensibilities and sense of decency. Not even the warnings on those walls that posting of bills are not permitted would seem to deter those behind the posters. I think that the need has since arisen for some sanity to be introduced in the whole bedlam. Government has a responsibility to terminate the poster war, and save the needless headache they constitute. It has become very necessary to insist that those who have messages to propagate should do so through handbills; in that case, those who do not feel disposed to whatever they are offering would be given the opportunity to exercise their right of choice”.
A Pentecostal Minister, Pastor Isaiah Ogbole who spoke in defence of pasting Christian posters, described it as the easiest way they (gospel ministers) can get their messages across to a decadent society. He, however, frowned at the indiscriminate “dumping” of obscene photographs by Nollywood actors, all in the name of marketing their films. To Pastor Ogbole, government should come up with laws regulating the display of obscene materials only and not outrightly ban the display of posters.
An actor and video film producer, Mr. Charles Ifediba looked at the poster war, especially as it concerns the film industry, from five perspectives. According to him, it is the cheapest form of publicity for film producers in view of the high cost of electronic and print media adverts.
Secondly, such posters help to create awareness for the movies and the actors. More discening viewers who know the calibre of the actors will therefore go for such films.
Mr. Ifediba noted that pasting posters is a way for producers to sell their name as well as a form of branding.
Mr. Ifediba, however, lamented the adverse effects of indiscriminate display of posters, saying it is not good for the environment. He stated that unless government takes decisive action by penalizing perpetrators of illegal display of posters, the trend will get worse