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By NBF News
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The new Managing Director, Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA), Mr Tunji Bello, recently held his first stakeholders forum with members of Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN) and other Outdoor advertising professionals in Lagos.

It is a new dawn for the industry as the practitioners expressed relief at the change of guards at LASMA. Emotions got heightened during the interactive session as the forum became charged with various versions of sad tales of experiences suffered by some practitioners.

The new LASAA Chief, however, appealed to them to put the past behind them and let bygone be bygone. He beckoned on operators to adhere to the rules, emphasizing that when rules and regulations are abided to, there are less problems. This was his second appeal. He had earlier assured the practitioners of openness and transparency in his dealings with them.

At the take-off of the forum, he said the new thinking in LASAA is to create a win-win situation for all. He expatiated, 'We are giving a new face to LASAA's activities in order to correct some of the erroneous impressions of the past. Let me restate emphatically to you all that LASAA is a regulatory agency for outdoor advertising and a regulator we will continue to be. We will remain a referee in this industry and not a competitor'.

Bello further assured, 'LASAA will not 'descend into the arena'. We have no reason to be.'

The LASAA Boss stated that the agency will work strictly within the tenets of its vision which is 'to be the world leader in signage control, outdoor advertising regulation and civic beautification'.

He extended the hands of fellowship to the practitioners, 'Our partnership is important in the interest of the environment. I want to assure you that today's event is the beginning of good things to come for the industry.

The standards of our practice will not change in LASAA. We will not accommodate sentiments in the discharge of our duties. We will continue to create a level playing field for everybody in the industry. We believe every one of you has a chance to practice outdoor advertising as long as you meet the stipulated criteria.'

The outdoor advertising practitioners, however, implored him to be fair.

LASSA scheduled the forum to enhance participatory decision- making in rate review, approvals of sites, amongst other issues.

Prior to the forum, LASAA had considered a rate review that is not less than 15% but not more than 20% which will cover all types of structures. This was LASAA's goodwill contribution towards ensuring that outdoor advertising practitioners enjoy higher profit margins and consequently, improve on the quality of structures hoisted within the Lagos metropolis.

At disclosure of this intention, the practitioners sought instead for 20% rate reduction which the LASAA Chief Executive obliged to further support them in their businesses.

This will take effect from December 1, 2010.
While stressing that all practitioners must fulfill their financial obligations to LASAA, Bello appealed to debtors to settle all their outstanding. 'There is the need to balance our books for the year and all outstanding must be captured for us to be able to render accounts to our other stakeholders. There will be no carry over. Failure on the part of debtors will create an atmosphere of distrust and discord. On our part, we will continue to provide the enabling environment for your business to flourish and thrive,' he stated. He however promised to address the other issues raised at the forum.

The meeting signaled a new beginning for the Lagos outdoor advertising industry.