We Brought Stability to Outdoor Advertising in Lagos – LASAA MD

Prince Adedamola Docemo is the Managing Director of the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) before his appointment as the LASAA MD. He has over 12 years of cognate experience in outdoor advertising, media and telecommunication sector. He has also consulted for several agencies in the out-of-home and signage industry

In this interview with GODWIN ANYEBE, he spoke extensively on the mandate of LASAA in Lagos State, how the agency brought stability and orderliness to the outdoor, the impact of COVID-19 on outdoor advertising industry, how the agency motivated practitioners during pandemic among other issues.

Godwin Anyebe: Many people do not really know the mandate of your agency. Can you, please tell us what the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) was set up to do?

Prince Adedamola Docemo: Section 387 of the harmonized Environmental Management and Protection Law 2017 clearly stipulates the statutory responsibilities and mandate of the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA).

Our mandate revolves around the management, regulation and control of the signage and outdoor advertising environment in Lagos State. We are a Government Agency set up to redefine the signage and outdoor advertising industry through effective signage and outdoor advertisement regulation. We control outdoor structures to be used for signage and advertisements, issue licenses and permits for the construction and placement of outdoor structures in any part of the State. LASAA protects the environment from potential adverse impact from visual blights; controls the number, size and location of outdoor structures; ensures that outdoor structures are soundly and carefully designed, erected, modified, maintained or removed when no longer in use to avoid potential damages to lives and property. Additionally, we ensure that outdoor structures are compatible with surrounding land uses and the environment. We also control the pasting and display of posters on public structures and highways.

LASAA organises the procedure to regulate the ownership and operation of outdoor structures for the purpose of signage or advertisements under specific regulations as contained in this law; rejects, revokes or modifies a permit if found to be in violation of any of the provisions of this Law or the conditions for its grant; prepares and keeps all records related to the issuance and denial of outdoor structures permit as well as appropriate general records.

Godwin Anyebe: So, how has it been since you assumed office as the MD?

Prince Adedamola Adekunjo Docemo: When I arrived as the Managing Director of LASAA, I met a robust team of experienced and capable professionals and we have been working together in the past 16 months to bring the Agency to where we are right now. I have been working assiduously to ensure that everyone, including myself, works in conformity to best practices, our code of ethics and also fulfilling the mandate of the Agency as we come to work daily. So far, it has been fruitful and we are surmounting challenges.

With my background in outdoor advertising technologies, the LASAA you see under my watch will exhibit considerable improvement in operational efficiency, ease of doing business, automation and optimization of our revenue collection process while employing smarter ways to monitor advertising structures remotely to guarantee compliance.

Godwin Anyebe: Recently, what role did your Agency play in the ruling of the matter with Bunjay Integrated Services when it declared null, void and unconstitutional the Lagos State Structures for Signage and Advertisement Agency Law No. 9 of 2006?

Prince Adedamola Docemo: We entered defence, proved the constitutionality of LASAA and judgment was delivered in our favour.

Godwin Anyebe: Before the establishment of LASAA, Lagos used to be cluttered with signboards, billboards, banners and defaced with posters but LASAA has changed all of that. How were you able to achieve this?

Prince Adedamola Docemo: Why LASAA was created is to guarantee an aesthetically pleasing Lagos environment through the removal of illegal signboards especially where they are clustered and obstructing vehicular and pedestrian movements. Banners that have no permit; frames indiscriminately displayed anywhere in the State and even billboards whose owners are not registered with LASAA and APCON are always removed. That was what we did to achieve this civic beautification in Lagos.  On a daily basis, it is what we set out to do because we exercise zero tolerance for all these unwanted advertisement materials; more so, it is a fulfilment of one of the major functions of LASAA that started since the inception of the Agency. That is the reason why our Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement officers and e field officers are up and doing to ensure total sanity and to guarantee the safety of lives and property.

Godwin Anyebe: COVID-19 suddenly hit the global economy. How has the pandemic affected outdoor advertising in Lagos?

Prince Adedamola Docemo: Covid-19 affected every business sector you can think of so the outdoor advertising industry was not exempted. Companies were badly hit and as such, advertisers cut down on budgets drastically and especially because of the lockdown, Out of Home advertising got little or no allocation because people were not moving around so we had a lot of vacant boards but gradually, things are beginning to pick up and normalize again. People have resumed their businesses physically and the roads have become busy again which automatically means OOH advertising is getting more patronage than what was obtainable when the economy was newly hit by the pandemic.

Godwin Anyebe: With the pandemic, what is the level of compliance in terms of registration and permit fee payment from Clients? Were they cooperating?

Prince Adedamola Docemo: Yes, they were and we appreciate them. We are very considerate and empathetic people in LASAA. We understand what is happening globally, hence, we displayed the same understanding to our clients when approached, but to our amazement, they have been very cooperating in terms of registering their structures and making payment for permit fees. The response to compliance is even more than the previous years because, last year, LASAA was rated the 4th outstanding revenue-generating Agency in Lagos which is a testament to the fact that our clients are cooperating regardless of the resultant effects of the pandemic.

Godwin Anyebe: What is your Agency doing for Clients to ensure ease of doing business?

Prince Adedamola  Docemo: At LASAA we are seriously in tune with best practices obtainable in other contemporary organisations which include ease of doing business. Our application processing time is short, such that when a client registers, within a very short time, we issue approval. Now, we have even gone online to have less paperwork. Clients can now download our application form for any of our products from our website, view rates therein and even pay online without coming to our office. Instead of having to come from far and near, we have functional communication channels such as telephone lines, email and social media handles where they can ask questions remotely and be promptly responded to. To enable our very numerous clients afford our rates, we recently reviewed them downwardly and also had a vacant board policy wherein practitioners are allowed to pay conveniently in three instalments where their structures are empty and without advertisement. We are employing smarter ways of monitoring advertising structures remotely to enforce compliance. We are also implementing a general upgrade of our information management system.

Godwin Anyebe: What motivations are you offering to encourage the advertising sector, with many vacant boards across Lagos?

Prince Adedamola  Docemo: We have also had downward rate reviews. First, there was a 35% decrease in the rates for LED advertising structures then there was 30% reduction done on other third-party structures. We have also waived three months of permit fees for practitioners to cushion the effect of the Covid 19 pandemic. The Agency had a vacant board discount policy in the past which is under review for a win-win benefit for the Agency and practitioners. So, we believe all these will serve as motivations for outdoor practitioners to do more in meeting their statutory obligations.

Godwin Anyebe: Billboards are things that make mage cities outstanding. What steps are you planning to take to ensure Lagos remains the centre of excellence in terms of innovative advertising?

Prince Adedamola Docemo: We are a government agency with a difference. Innovation is in our DNA we encourage practitioners to come up with applications with contemporary designs and innovative advertising structures comparable to foreign countries. We support iconic structures and welcome ideas from creative standpoint and out of the box thinking so that Lagos can fulfil its vision in becoming Africa’s model mega City. We encourage them to introduce structures that will not only display brands but the ones that will also carry out diverse functionalities like collecting data, supporting intelligence for the industry on traffic count, audience measurement, as well as carry out other auxiliary functions. I believe Lagos has the finest billboards in West Africa.

Godwin Anyebe: What are some of your achievements since you came in?

Prince Adedamola Docemo: Introduction of Online Registration/Payment Platform (SAuto): On my assumption as MD, I saw that the Agency was still doing much of paperwork which slowed down results. Then, for us to improve on our services and to make our processes easy for clients, I introduced doing business online by creating a platform called SAuto, as it is practised in other reputable organisations. Now, our application processing time is short, such that when a client registers, within a very short time, we issue approval.

We are employing smarter ways of monitoring advertising structures remotely to enforce compliance. We are also implementing a general upgrade of our information management system. In my determination to ensure a cleaner Lagos environment, we have added to the number of our poster-removing machines in the Agency so that our men can always go out on daily basis to rid the environment of defaced materials. These three machines have already been deployed by our men

Godwin Anyebe: How have you been working to add value and raise your sector to the next level?

Prince Adedamola  Docemo: As a regulator in the outdoor advertising industry, we are working tirelessly in the team to enhance operational standards and create an enabling environment for outdoor advertising business which in turn will bring about a huge increase in terms of investment in Lagos State and by extension, Nigeria.

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