DOAS has new ideas to end illegal posters in Abuja—Director

With the unsightly litter of posters all over the nation’s capital, there has to be a body to regulate and sanitize the practice, while raking in needed revenue for government to provide the needs of residents. Enter the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage (DOAS).

One of the newer agencies of FCT Administration (FCTA), it has the mandate to clean up the city of Abuja and Sitting atop the hierarchy of DOAS is Engr. Richard Aderinwale, Acting Director. A man of vast international and local experience in the field, he is a dynamo with lots of fresh ideas in his head even in a jiffy on how to go about the task handed him by his superiors. Staff members say he works so hard daily that he leaves office anytime from 10pm. It is a job where he has to be on his toes all the time.

Engr. Aderinwale fielded questions from Abuja Digest Weekly crew of Felix Durumbah and Salamatu Aminu.

Abuja Digest Weekly: We’re now in electioneering period, with lots of illegal posters dotting the city. How is DOAS checking this trend? Any penalties?

Aderinwale: Our main approach for checking illegal posting of posters is by sensitizing the public using the media—print, radio, TV—to persuade and appeal to the general public to stop that act of pasting posters and defacing the city of Abuja.

Another approach we have engaged in last year was the arrest of some offenders and had them prosecuted after we worked alongside the FCT command of Nigeria Police Force. All the way from Old CBN area, some people were arrested and prosecuted. It was a collaborative effort between FCTA and FCT Police command.

So, we’ll say that we’ve made efforts—and continue to make—in sensitizing many residents and also arrested culprits. And we observed towards the end of last year that the spate of posting of posters went down. But now it has picked up again because of the electioneering campaign, but we continue to clamp down.

As to penalties, going by DOAS’ regulations and guidelines, there are penalties for offenders. And the penalties are two-phased: either you pay a fine or you go to jail. They apply to recalcitrant offenders.

Corporate organizations pay a fine of N1million, individuals found culpable pay a fine of N100, 000 or three months’ imprisonment.

Abuja Digest Weekly: Any new ideas to improve services in DOAS?

Aderinwale: There are two main services that DOAS is trying to scale up this year. You know, administration is a continuum; it’s dynamic, improvement in whatever you have done in the past.

I’m trying to bring up two new services. These will curtail and to a certain extent, check, if not totally eliminate, indiscriminate pasting of posters.

The first one, I call it Public Notice Panel. It has been observed that most of this menace (illegal poster pasting) is being carried out under the deck of vehicular bridges, that’s on the columns, the pillars, and the retaining wall. That’s where you see most of these activities being perpetrated by residents of FCT.

So, what we’re about to do now is that I’m trying to bring up a Public Notice Panel. It will be towards the retaining wall of most of these vehicular bridges. Now, if you want to paste posters, you go there and put your poster. Then when your event has expired, it will be taken off. Somebody will be brought up by DOAS to manage these panels. You want to paste posters, you want to advertize and announce an event, just go there, just put them on this panel instead of pasting them on the pillars and the columns of the walls of our vehicular bridges. So, that’s what I’m involved in this year. I’m going to put it across to FCT senior management and I believe they will buy into it.

Then, we get a registered practitioner that will man these panels. He also will be there even at night to check. If somebody is there manning the panels, if you come and want to put on the pillars, he’ll say ‘No, No, you can’t do that, this is the rightful place to put’.

So, we’ll have somebody policing particularly vehicular bridges both up and down and then you have somebody also at the centre, we’ll be able now to create some level of organization and at same time some little revenue will be coming to coffers of FCTA. That’s the first service we want to introduce this year.

Then, the second service, that one has partly taken off; I call it Composite Directional Sign. You notice that at most of our junctions, we’ve enforced them. In the past, Abuja was very dirty; you get to a junction, you see a cluster of signboards, directional signboards. So, now we remove all those clusters quite alright. We’re now going to put a Composite Directional Board in a particular junction. And that board will have 10 slots, two faces, five here, five there, so that instead of having about 20 clusters of directional signboards at T-junctions and what have you, we can have just that singular one. We have already engaged a media practitioner that will be running that for us. So, when you want to put a directional sign, you don’t put your own anywhere, you go and put it on that composite board. That will also bring neatness and beauty to the orderliness of the city.

So, these are the two new services we’re introducing in this first quarter of 2019. The Composite Directional Sign has been approved by my senior management, but it has not fully taken off because we have not given the letter of approval, but, very soon it will be done; the file is on my table.

It’s all going to help many people because people say ‘my business is very far inside, I need a directional sign to let people know where we are’. But there are too many at the junctions—we’ve enforced them quite alright—but they have been complaining that they are still not satisfied because there is no way they are pointing for those who are trying to get to them at their business locations.

So, this is going to help us in checking poster pasting, while the other one is going to check cluster directional signs. So, we’re making the city neater that way.

Before we get to June this year, we hope there will be greater sanity regarding the pasting of posters in the city.

Abuja Digest Weekly: Recently your agency embarked on enforcement exercise in shops, malls, markets, and so on. In your view, what’s the outcome like?

Aderinwale: Good outcome. When I took over the agency in October 12, 2018, on the directives of FCTA senior management, immediately I wrote to our third party practitioners because many of them had defaulted in revenue payment. The letter I pushed out to about 70 of them and in November we were able to raise about N35million in one month. In December, we were not able to do much. The exercise has continued in January this year, revenue payment defaulters have been enforced; we have been removing their banners. Third party is those large billboards you see around; that’s third party. And this month, we have raised again over N20million as I speak to you, January has not ended yet; we still have about a week. Our target for January is N50 million revenue accruals.

So, as to enforcing defaulters, we’re enforcing them and the exercise has been yielding results which in time past, permit me to say, has not been like that. This year we have had our first management meeting and we have targeted a revenue figure of N50million every month and we’re working towards that.

Abuja Digest Weekly: Your last word for outdoor advertising practitioners and the general public?

Aderinwale: The advice is that this is an organized society. In every organized society, there are rules and regulations that everybody is expected to comply with. So, they should please comply with existing rules that guide the practice of outdoor advertisement in FCT.

FCT Administration is building a city that we all should be proud of, so that when people come to Nigeria they’ll say ‘wow, see how organized Nigeria is!’. That’s the pride of every Nigerian citizen.

While we’re appealing to people to be compliant to the rules, those who are going to be disobedient, we’re very much on ground to address them with respect to their responses.

We’ll enforce all illegal signage posters. We’ll continue to do that. Towards the end of last year, we did in many places—in Kado, in Gwarinpa, and people were praising our staff, saying that ‘you people are doing a good job’. When we went to Gwarinpa, they said ‘just three days, see how our streets are so clean. You can stand at one end of the street and see the other end, but before, no way because of clusters of signboards’. We removed all of them. There was resistance in some areas, but because we went with Police, there was also compliance.

Also, FCT residents should come to DOAS for services. There are only small fees for signage, just about N20, 000 per annum, but some people don’t know this.

Members of the public should help us be on the look-out for those posting illegal posters. DOAS now has a functional website, which will be running before end of this January. People can see our services there and apply for whatever and receive prompt response. They can equally use our phone lines 09-2919181, 081-87632196 to reach the agency. FCT is for them and we are here to serve the public.

The Honourable Minister, FCT, is working very hard to make FCT the capital of our dreams and we enjoin the public for all support