Former LASAA boss, George Noah writes on politics of Lagos outdoor advertising during 2015 elections

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The sordid intrigues and high stakes politicking that characterized events which played out in Lagos State outdoor advertising sector, in the build-up to Nigeria’s 2015 General Elections, have been detailed in a new book – titled, 2015 Elections: The Politics of Outdoor Advertising in Lagos State.
 
COVER PAGE OF THE BOOK
Comprising 22 chapters, the book is authored by George Kayode Noah, immediate past Managing Director, Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA). Noah it will be recalled piloted affairs of the agency during the 2015 elections. He was in the eye of the storm – as federal authorities and opposition groups in Lagos, engaged the agency in a battle of attrition – famously dubbed: The Lagos Poster War.  
 
Covering a broad array of subjects and themes, which expounds the issues that transpired – Noah sifts through the labyrinth of complexities – distilling facts from fiction. In so doing, he sets the record straight and offers a refreshingly unique and insightful perspective of the narratives – applying his upfront yet inventive style of writing.    
 
Noah gives an overview of the outdoor advertising sector in Lagos State.  He further  sheds light on LASAA’s guidelines geared towards ensuring decorous outdoor campaign during the period; the fault lines that exposed initial cracks in enforcing the guidelines; and  complicity  by law enforcement agents in the spate of impunity that marred  outdoor political campaigns.
 
The author dwelt on measures that may be taken to guard against a partisan stance by law enforcement agents in future elections; the role played by groups such as the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) and the Goodluck Lagos Grassroots Project (GLGP) in escalating the crisis. He also addressed issues related to the PDP gubernatorial candidate, Jimi Agbaje’s open letter to LASAA.
 
The roughshod approach adopted by the PDP-led Federal Government – which culminated in the termination of all forms of outdoor advertising along major federal government roads in Lagos State, is perspicaciously detailed in the book.  Noah also beamed the spotlight on protests that occasioned the federal government’s actions.
 
 It was a period of great intimidation, and the threats made against the author and how he addressed them, are elucidated in the book. The author gives an analysis of the cost of the outdoor campaigns in Lagos State including billboards, wall drapes, bus shelters,   street lampoles, hat boxes, branded buses and cars, branded T-shirts, posters, banners,  experiential activities and stick-in-the-ground.
 
The book also sheds light on tit-for-tat battles that inevitably occasioned some unpleasant incidents in the course of the outdoor campaign and as well focuses on media coverage, with narratives from print and online publications and outlets that reported on the standoff. 
Noah gave details of LASAA’s determination to restore sanity following conclusion of the elections – with the implementation of an Aegean task – to rid Lagos of the visual blight caused by unrestrained use of posters and other political campaign materials. 
 
The recycling initiatives undertaken by LASAA to dispose of over a million campaign posters deployed, with support from the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and stimulus packages introduced thereafter – in a bid to rekindle investment in the outdoor sector – also form topics of discourse.
 
The popularity of A-Frames during the campaign period and airborne mediums that were overlooked, also form the backdrop of discourse. It wasn’t all doom and gloom. The 2015 political campaign period was also a time for thinking big in the outdoor industry, with innovative and ambitious structures that broke the mould, some of which had never been displayed before in Nigeria. This is also worth remembering and is summarized in the chapters.
 
 There is of course a need for reflection and forward thinking, now, even as the electioneering wounds inflicted on the out-of-home advertising industry are yet to heal.  It is in view of this that the concluding chapter underscores the need for proactive steps to be taken to foreclose a reoccurrence.
 
The book also looks into challenges faced by outdoor regulatory agencies during the period of electioneering, as well as the potential personal risks faced by personnel of these agencies. In addition, it seeks to prevent a repeat of the controversial events that engulfed the outdoor industry in the course of campaigning for the 2015 general elections in Lagos State – while highlighting the positive and defining narratives that unfolded. 
 
A technocrat, and political activist, Noah was a founding member of Radio Kudirat and has over 35 years experience in virtually all aspects of the media. A pioneer member of Made In Nigeria (MAIN) Festival Group, Noah is also Publisher of Island News and Chief Executive Officer that midwifed TV Continental (TVC) and Radio Continental in Lagos.  
 
Noah previously worked for Insight Communications Limited in Nigeria, the Greater London Council (GLC) and British Telecom International (BTI) in the UK and Media Empowerment for Africa (MEFA) in Norway.  Whilst domiciled in London, Noah was appointed Chairman of the London Borough of Southwark Co-operative Development Agency (SCDA) in 1992. In June 2014, whilst at LASAA, Noah was awarded the honorary title Lagos State Man Of The Year.

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