By Adeoba Michaels ( adeobamich@Gmail.com )
Lagos state governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-olu is obviously on a mission to rebuild after the ill-fated government of former governor, Akinwunmi Ambode that ended disastrously. Ambode negatively distrupted not a few sectors with his inhuman policies and greed.
JC Decaux Lake Grace like the visionless Visionscape was brought by Ambode. What Visionscape did to local investors in waste management sector is what JC Decaux is doing to indigenous outdoor advertising practitioners in Lagos.
Buoyed by Ambode’s backing, the Nigeria’s subsidiary of the Paris-based advertising giant operated with impunity and usurped approved sites of local operators.
Whilst, the Ambode’s visionless Visionscape had gone belly up leaving collateral damages for Lagos taxpayers to bear, JC Decaux Lake Grace is still operating with reckless impunity in Lagos Outdoor sector.
In consonant with the ongoing arbitration on injustices and impunities of the power-drunk Ambode regime, like recent honour extended to sacked chaplain of Lagos Chapel, Venerable Femi Taiwo, Governor Sanwo-Olu should look into how JC Decaux Lake Grace came to be and how it has been oppressing local players.
The Sanwo-Olu administration needs to urgently probe the rationale behind the logo of the Lagos State Government affixed to the advertising gantries of the JC Decaux Lake Grace across the state. Ambode did that disservice to Lagos.
Lagos government, by allowing its logo to be affixed on a privately-owned billboards has inadvently given a special status to this foreign advertising firm at the detriment of indigenous players.
Such undeserving privilege inhibits healthy competition in a free market economy. Again, the ineffective Traffic Information System displaying on the boards which is rumoured as the barter between the firm and Lagos State Government cannot be a reasonable and sensible reason to throw the bigger , collective interests of a multi-billion naira industry under the bus.
The visionary leadership of Babatunde Raji Fashola bequeathed powerful Traffic Radio 96.1 fm to Lagos. The Radio rivals Google Map in efficiency. Many road users in Lagos today don’t hit the roads without consulting the Oracle, Traffic Radio.
So, what is the usefulness of the JC Decuax Traffic Information System that reels inaccurate and unreliable information that changes intermittently when vehicles are high speed on highways? When a driver can tune in to Traffic Radio and get reliable, first hand traffic updates without endangering his life and other road users.
JC Decaux Traffic Information System is a huge distraction with little or no public good. The Lagos government needs to address these aberrations and act in the public interest and safety.
Yes, safety, because the flash lightening emitting from big boards can trigger epileptic seizures from sufferers while driving. The dire consequence is better imagined. Even television stations pre-warn viewers of flash photography on a small household device in the comfort of their rooms.
Lagos as a megacity should up its game in outdoor advertising regulation. The regulator, LASAA under ousted Mobolaji Sanusi was a lapdog which sided with filthy lucre above public safety.
I am sure in France, the home country of JC Decaux and other major markets in Europe, distractive billboards deployed by the outdoor giant in Lagos are not allowed to mushroom. Governor Sanwo-Olu must act decisively on this!
Furthermore, not a few local advertising firms are in courts challenging JC Decaux Lake Grace over outright hijacking of approved site and sundry infringements.
An indigenous firm, Media Worth, which played a significant role in the evolution of outdoor business in Lagos from the crude days to now enviable sector had legal battle with JC Decaux for hijacking its approved site at Oworonshoki.
The big JC Decaux gantry at Oworonshoki before ascending Third Mainland Bridge is the referenced location.
According to documents from Federal Ministry of Works, the federal agency empowers to issue approval on the federal roads show that Media Worth got approval before JC Decuax Lake Grace with backing of Ambode-led government and axed ex-LASAA boss, Mobolaji Sanusi played ignominable role by hijacking the approved for JC Decaux.
In a similar manner, another indigenous outdoor firm, Moving Media also challenged the advertising giant for blocking its approved site with its gigantic board somewhere around Ikoyi in contravention of the industry regulation states at least there should be a space of 100meter between advertising boards
No doubt, JC Decaux operated like emperor Ambode who believed he was infallible until he was grounded to powder!
As if Nigeria was a jungle, JC Decaux Lake Grace also shunned the Outdoor Advertising of Association (OAAN) and started mounting gantries all around town. OAAN dragged the lawless outdoor giant to court before it offered to settle out of court.
The is need to for all well- meaning Lagosians to look into the JC Decaux menace. I sincerely hope that the government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu will look into these disturbing development.
Adeoba Michaels , a Public Affairs Analyst writes from Lagos