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ARCON reforms: Is ADVAN in love with the industry status quo?

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By By Izuchukwu Ewa

More than ten years ago, Dr. Daniel Olukoya, Founder of the Mountain of Fires and Miracles Ministries wrote a book he boldly titled, ‘SLAVES WHO LOVE THEIR CHAINS’. As if to buttress the paradoxical titled, he added an even more puzzling subtitle; “…shall remain in their bondage.” The book’s title is a good illustration for sticking to the status quo even when doing so is detrimental, even when it appears to be a hindrance to growth.

The advertising industry in Nigeria is plagued with a lot of challenges and issues that have been begging for immediate intervention since the late 1980s when the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) act was signed into law. These challenges have remained for decades until the Federal Government saw a need for reforms to be carried out to strengthen the nation’s integrated marketing communications space. That began with the appointment of Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo who is the Director-General of the agency. The Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed had revealed that he believes that if properly carried out, such reforms would enable the apex regulatory body in the industry sanitise the advertising regulatory environment, encourage inclusive growth, attract investments to the sector, and enhance the operating environment for practitioners.

But at every twist and turn that APCON (now ARCON) has tried to create sustainable solutions to these problems, the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) appears to be at loggerheads with the regulatory body. How else can the impasse between the association and the regulatory body be explained? Is ADVAN comfortable with the chains of the status quo that has held the industry down? Is it allergic to any form of change that will place the industry at par with other thriving markets like Kenya’s and South Africa’s as well as those outside the shoes of Africa? Is it implying that the status quo is a global best practice this industry should maintain?

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ADVAN consistently appears to dog every move of the regulatory body, every chance it gets, in recent times. Among the many sweeping reforms made by ARCON, perhaps the most controversial, is the one it made on October 6, 2021, when the Advertising Industry Standard of Practice (AISOP) was introduced. Among issues AISOP targeted is the perennial problems of payment circle, pitch fees, seeking to regulate engagement policy, payment terms, and method, media rates and commission, remuneration model, disengagement protocol, returns on advertising investment and measurements, dispute resolution, and other related business procedures.

But despite being part of the process that led to the formulation of AISOP, ADVAN rejected it completely. As reported by one of the industry magazines, Brand Communicator, “consternation buzzed across the industry when details of the new advertising standard of practice were released.”

ADVAN immediately issued a press statement describing the new Standard of Practice as an “unconstitutional attempt to infringe on the rights of private entities to determine their contractual terms.”

In one breath, ADVAN stated that is very supportive of the plan to create a Standard of Practice for the advertising industry, and that one of its key objectives is to facilitate and support progress in the advertising and marketing communications industry, while in another breath, it stated, “… as principal benefactors of Advertising services, our role and input with regards to this AISOP has not been fully on boarded. The current AISOP is void of critical elements that protect the rights and interest of the ADVAN community,” adding, “It is the submission of ADVAN and all its members, that the current AISOP does not serve the collective interest, but rather permits unfair authority of certain parties over others and creates an unfriendly business framework.”

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Despite this, ARCON insisted that AISOP is a business framework that must be allowed to work because it seeks to improve mutual respect, eradicate unfair advantage, unethical competition, and un-equitable policies among relevant stakeholders in the advertising and marketing communications industry in Nigeria. Within the industry, AISOP clearly.

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To better understand the necessity for AISOP, before now, contract rules were hardly obeyed. Advertisers dictated the pace and called every shot. With the new law, the tide is poised to change, a development that apparently, ADVAN is not comfortable with. ARCON is insisting that previous practices made it difficult for media organisations and agencies to survive.

Again, the signing into law of the ARCON Act which repeals the Advertising Practitioners (Registration, etc.) Act, Cap. A7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and enacts the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria Act, 2022, to establish a Council for advertising, advertisements and marketing communications as the apex regulatory authority for the Nigerian advertising industry, make provision for the regulation and control of advertising, ensure the protection of the general public and consumers, promote local content and entrench the best international practices, is another example.

It was hoped that with the Act which gives ARCON exclusive power to determine, pronounce upon, administer, monitor, and enforce compliance by persons and organizations on matters relating to advertisements, advertising, and marketing communication in Nigeria whether of a general or specific nature, will be welcomed by all, with open arms as this has given teeth to the regulatory body to enforce the bulk of the most needed changes the industry needs to make headway. One would have also thought there would be fireworks of jubilation across the industry, as this means advertising is headed for the much needed change.

But this was not to be as ADVAN through if President, Osamede Uwubanmwem has been granting interviews on how the new ARCON law will stifle the industry, threatening legal action.

Then again, ARCON announced a ban on the use of foreign models and voiceover artistes in Television Commercials (TVCs) and other related materials including billboards that would run in the country, with effect from October 1st, 2022. The news of the ban reverberated across the world with the President of the Association of Voiceover Artists of Nigeria (AVOA), Segun Arinze, taking to the CNN to commend the move and explaining why it was necessary to grow that space.

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ARCON had noted that the ban is expected to stimulate and revitalise the Nigerian advertising and marketing communications industry which has suffered a massive setback due to the unbeneficial and untenable preference for the use of non-Nigerian models and voice-over artists on advertisement targeted at the Nigerian market. The ARCON Director-General also explained that the ban is in line with the Federal Government’s policy of developing local talent, inclusive economic growth, and the need to take necessary steps and actions aimed at growing the Nigerian advertising industry.

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“Nigerian ambience, cultural heritage, language and mannerism are unique and reverberate in advertisements produced domestically. The relegation of Nigeria’s eminently qualified models and voice-over artists and the redundancy of the ancillary service providers in the industry due to imported advertising services becloud the advancement of creative potentials seeking a foothold to thrive.
“The risk of allowing domestic creativity to wither due to lack of support and patronage in favour of imported advertising services has negatively affected the small, medium, and macro enterprises in the chain of advertising and marketing communications production in Nigeria. Being the highest employer of labour in Nigeria, the SME sector deserves every support of the Federal Government for growth,” he was quoted as saying.

“This new ARCON policy is aimed at empowering the Nigerian youth who aspires to earn a decent living as a model and voice-over artist in Nigeria as well as create jobs, improve advertising service delivery with a positive multiplier effect on the Nigerian economy.”

“It is not taken for granted that some stakeholders may feel adversely affected by the ban. The overriding necessity to develop local inventiveness and to ensure that advertisements resonate with the society where they are targeted and exposed to, is important to ARCON and to the general public,” ARCON had said.

Again, this development did not go down well with ADVAN. In yet another press statement, the association wrote: “It is ADVAN‘s standpoint that the recent ban on foreign models, was not well thought out. It is a poorly researched and ineffective attempt at seeking a solution for sustainable growth in the advertising industry.

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ADVAN had gone ahead to reason that the ban presents Nigeria – a country that has a significant percentage of its population seeking income opportunities outside Nigeria, as a strict, insular, and nonreciprocal society. It had also reasoned that “While it is beneficial to create opportunities for local businesses and talents, it is counterproductive to do so in a manner that creates a harmful perception of the Nation, as an over-regimented and unwelcoming society.”

In its recommendation, ADVAN said, “In seeking development for the Nigerian advertising landscape, our recommendation will be for government to embrace comprehensive stakeholder interactions and inclusivity in their policy creation and implementation. This will provide clarity for reasons behind the decline of advertising budgets, and the most beneficial solutions in attracting increased spend. Regulation and regulators must be collaborative and inclusive, rather than confrontational in nature to help develop a given industry.”

While the argument may sound tenable on some fronts, same ADVAN On AIT’s breakfast show, Kakaaki, through its Chief Executive Officer, Ediri Ediale-Ose while speaking for the association said that there is very little negligible number of foreign models and voiceover artists in practicing in the country while suggesting that instead of an outright ban, ARCON should concentrate on ‘other’ issues plaguing the industry. With her submission, ADVAN clearly sees the ban as a non-issue…but it must antagonise ARCON!

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Conversely, these other challenges Ediri spoke about are not problems or issues that are not being considered. Laozi, a wise Chinese man had once said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, a single step. Since the Dr. Fadolapo came onboard, ARCON has been taking a lot of these small steps towards sanitising the industry. Is ADVAN oblivious of these moves or do they think problems that have abounded for decades can be solved all at once? Certainly not.

Also, ADVAN came for ARCON for its intervention in a case involving Mainsail and Hayat Kimya, accusing the regulator of meddlesomeness. It beats the imagination that the apex regulatory body of the advertising industry is ‘meddling’ in an affair involving two parties operating within its jurisdiction. A case that had been comatose for months after was revived with ARCON’s intervention following the 7 days ultimatum ADVAN had issued. This has brought all players to one table.

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“ADVAN states unequivocally that ARCON’s statement reeks of an underhand attempt to subvert the ongoing process in what has been alleged a criminal issue. This is against the rule of law as espoused by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. ADVAN, therefore, wants to use this medium to reiterate that Hayat Kimya Ltd, a member of ADVAN, is a responsible and law-abiding organization in Nigeria,” the statement stated.

ADVAN’s antagonistic stance against everything ARCON does is a cause for concern considering that all subsectors within the gamut of the industry need to work collaboratively to grow the industry. Though a wide sector, the advertising industry is a small space where everyone and subsector is interwoven. This is the only industry that there is almost no retirement. This is a sector where professionals cross divides, where people on the client-side of business sometimes retire to agency side. An ADVAN member today is a potential member of either the AAAN, EXMAN or any other subsector and vice versa. In fact, some examples that readily come to mind are Seni Adetu with Algorithm Media, ID Enang with Corporate Shepherds, Lampe Omoyele spearheading operations at Nitro121, Kola Oyeyemi with Axiom International Limited, Femi Adelusi with BrandEye Media among tens of others.

With this in mind and with the realisation of the fact that regardless of the divide of the industry anyone plays in, the growth of the industry is everyone’s business. Rather than dogging every move ARCON makes, why not seek more grounds for participating in solving the problems of the industry? At the end of the day, Dr. Olalekan will not remain at ARCON forever and the reforms he would have completed would be for the gain of the industry.

Izuchukwa Ewa is a public affairs analyst, a marketing communications professional and a political commentator. He writes from Afikpo in Ebonyi State.

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Opinion

Utomi, Nigerians abroad form telemedicine initiative

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Renowned political economist, Prof Pat Utomi, alongside some Nigerian medical professionals in the United States and the United Kingdom, has unveiled a group to combat the challenges faced by Nigerians in the healthcare system.

This was disclosed at the group’s inaugural virtual meeting on Tuesday, where Utomi affirmed that Nigerian people have been successful globally in leading success for others around the world.

 

Also read : APC should apologize not campaign, says Utomi

 

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According to him, the group named Healthcare Cohort of the New Tribe will “map and guide a rebirth of healthcare in Nigeria… to help citizens take back and shape a country of promise now left in ruins by politicians.”

In the press statement titled ‘We Can Save Ourselves And Shape The Future For Our Children,’ Utomi said the initiative was borrowed from the ancient Greeks, who were called Tribesmen and saved people from societal maladies.

The statement read, “Our goal is to erect a moral tribe of citizens who speak and live personal integrity, hold high the dignity of the human person, celebrate the work ethic and entrepreneurial creativity, and hold on to merit with inclusion, as the essence of the social order in which we recognize that I am because we are.

“This new tribe in seeking to bring talk to action has created two sets of cohorts in a cluster of 14 and seven for sectors of intervention, and mode of organization, respectively, to operationalize the vision.”

The professor said, “Dear friends and Compatriots. I feel a great sense of this moment as a landmark and watershed historical one, even as simple a virtual meeting as it is that has brought you Nigerian healthcare professionals spread from as far away as Sydney in Australia;

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“Los Angeles, California, Atlanta, Georgia, Saudi Arabia, Kano, Abuja, Owerri, Florida and Lagos, Newcastle in the UK and South Africa as leaders, to map and guide a rebirth of healthcare in Nigeria, as a cohort of our New Tribe configured to help citizens take back and shape a country of promise now left in ruins by politicians.

“I want to warmly welcome Dr Olatidoye in Atlanta, Dr Olujie in Australia, Dr. Emeruwa in California, Zahtau Ibrahim in Kano, and Dr. Okocha in Saudi Arabia, as well as Dr. Bagudu in Abuja.

“In the weeks of hard work to raise the membership of this work council of the healthcare cohort, it became quite clear that Nigerians have become a global tribe that can aggregate the good of the world in which they have thrived no matter the constraints in their path into a new age;

“For all its people reduced sadly a country of pity as the poverty capital of the world by lack of leadership, a collapse of culture, and the embrace of emotion over reason, leaving society a victim of the absence of rational public conversation.”

The former presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Mega Party in the 2011 general election maintained that it was not an accident that the group came together to begin a novel act to go out there and confound doubters with what he described as a “moral compass that will produce outcomes the world will discuss for a long time.”

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“I feel so very proud of this day that it is a time when your collective talents become the platform for showcasing the triumph of the human spirit as initiatives flowing from your genius and compassion solve problems of both the affluent and the poorest of the poor as they work to up the quality of life within the challenges in our land.

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“Many years ago, I arrived at the Bisi Onabanjo University Medical School in Sagamu to speak at an event for students of the CVL club I had founded, led by Tolu Ademujimi. The speaker, then provost from LUTH, finished his remarks by saying the Nigerian health system was a ‘man-made disaster’.

“A key goal of this cohort is to undo that which man has done to health care in Nigeria.

“Who are we to so dare, and why do we passionately seek a new order?

“Some years ago, two Columbia University Economists, Arvind Subramanian and Xavier Sala-i-Martin, in an IMF working paper, more or less suggested Nigeria was better off without a government because the welfare effect of oil income if just shared to all Nigerians was higher than the outcome of governing Nigeria in the manner it is governed.

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“It, therefore, makes sense for citizens to try and take back their country by creating greater welfare-advancing possibilities in spite of government. How do we plan to go about this? Here, we turn to the wisdom of Ancient Greece.

“For the Greeks, at the base of civilization are people who think of themselves alone. This category they called idiots. Moving up is the next category, which cares for others but only others with parochial linkages such as blood, language, and religion. These they called tribesmen. For tribesmen, all not of the tribe are enemies to fight ferociously.

“Of a higher category of people in society are those who feel a shared humanity and solidarity with other people for their humanity no matter their geography. These they called citizens.

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“Our goal is to erect a moral tribe of citizens who speak and live personal integrity, hold high the dignity of the human person, celebrate the work ethic and entrepreneurial creativity, and hold on to merit with inclusion, as the essence of the social order in which we recognize that I am because we are.

“This new tribe, in seeking to bring talk to action, has created two sets of cohorts in a cluster of 14 and seven for sectors of intervention and mode of organization, respectively, to operationalize the vision.

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“Just as we are giving to ourselves today the brief for the healthcare cohort, others for education, values, public accountability, election reforms, etc will follow.

“Our pre-work indicates your cohort strategy will, in part, deploy an app we are just finalizing to allow physicians around the world to donate two or three hours a week of their time to see patients remotely located. Massive health education and primary health prevention of disease initiatives and support of healthcare, malls, and upend hospital clusters will be in your mix.

“The structure of the cohort we propose has its Congress made up of all the volunteers, healthcare professionals, tech support and administrative types. They will be the backbone of debates and rational conversation on the two portals to be presented to us today, as well as the boots on ground.”

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Opinion

Re-introducing old national anthem long overdue, says Ozhekome

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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, has backed the return to the old national anthem Wednesday.

Theheute earlier reported that the National Anthem Bill was assented to today marking a shift from the now ‘Arise O Compatriots’ to former ‘Nigeria We Hail Thee’.

He also called on President Bola Tinubu’s administration to consider a comprehensive rebranding of the nation by changing Nigeria’s name and national flag.

His appeal comes alongside praise for the government’s decision to revert to the old national anthem, which he described as a significant and positive development.

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This is as he noted that a return to the old anthem was among the things that he proposed at the National Conference in 2014.

He said, “I, as a humble and patriotic pan-Nigerian, I have always looked at these issues from the Nigerian perspective – how we can make our country better than it is now.

“Which was why Mr President, sir, as far back as, Wednesday, July 2, 2014 – 10 years ago – at the plenary session of the National Conference, I moved the motion for the change of our national anthem back to the one of 1960, on our independence

“That motion was hotly debated by the 492 delegates at the national confab drawn from every spectrum of the Nigerian society and it was carried.

“And indeed nostalgically, the whole plenary session stood up and sang the old national anthem.”

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Ozekhome, in a Wednesday viral video, said the change was long overdue.

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“So, bringing it back is well overdue. It has better lyrics in context and content – like the Senate President said. It is better than the other one,” he added.

The lawyer noted that he wrote a book which he submitted at the end of the Confab where he cited his arguments as the need for change.

He demanded that recognition and appreciation be given to the 492 delegates at the national conference and its heads.

“Indeed I wrote a book titled, ‘Nigeria We Hail Thee’ and it was 421 pages. It was launched at that National Conference just before it ended in 2014.

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“My arguments are on pages 268 to 271. So, it didn’t start together. I think that when we finally get to Canaanland, this body should give some recognition and appreciation to the National Conference of 2014 chaired by the late Justice Legbo Kutigi with Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi as the deputy.

“Let me also say that it was not the national anthem alone that I said should be brought back. The other two matters I argue should be brought back were – the flag and country name changes – the present green and white Nigerian flag is too bland.

“It’s not just in terms of lacking in colours. It is not inspirational – compare it to that of the US with its tribes and stars representing the fifty states.

“If you look at the flag of South Africa or the UK, you’ll see what I mean. The older flag has the rising sun in the centre which shoots to all the directions of Nigeria – North, South, East and West. Look at the Norfolk flag and the AU.

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“At that conference, I also moved that we change the name of Nigeria which appears to be a burden because of the circumstances it came into being January 8, 1878, when Flora Shaw gave her the name ‘Nigeria’ named after ‘Niger Area’.

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“Buy both my proposal for the flag change and the name Nigeria to Airegen (spelt backwards) but both were shut down and the one of the national anthem carried,” he added partly.

The readoption of the old anthem has sparked concerns among Nigerians.

Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, earlier on Wednesday, vowed not to revert to the old anthem, Theheute reported.

The “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” anthem was used from 1960 when Nigeria gained independence, until it was replaced by “Arise, O Compatriots” in 1978.

Lilian Jean Williams wrote the lyrics for Nigeria’s previous national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” in 1959, while Frances Berda composed the music for the anthem during the same year.

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The anthem’s lyrics, written by Lilian Jean Williams in 1959, evoke a sense of national pride and unity.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to read the anthem.

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Opinion

Kitigbe o: Honouring six years of Oba Adeyemi Obalanlege’s reign as Olota of Otta-Awori Kingdom

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As the sun sets over the vibrant town of Otta, the air is filled with a sense of celebration and reverence. It marks the six-year anniversary of the coronation of His Majesty, Oba Professor Adeyemi Obalanlege, the esteemed Olota of Otta-Awori Kingdom.

Stepping into his reign, Oba Obalanlege brought with him not only the weight of tradition but also a distinguished background in academia and a fervent dedication to community service.

Born into the esteemed lineage of Prince Taiwo Hassan Obalanlege and Mrs. Mutiat Afolake Obalanlege (Nee Anjorin), Oba Adeyemi entered the world on August 28, 1966, in Mushin, Lagos State.

His educational journey began in AUD Primary School, Iganmode and led him to Ansar-ud-Deen College, Isolo, before culminating at Iganmode Grammar School in Otta. This foundation laid the groundwork for his illustrious academic career.

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With a Higher National Diploma in Mass Communication from Ogun State Polytechnic and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Journalism from independent Colleges, UK, Oba Adeyemi’s thirst for knowledge propelled him further. He pursued postgraduate studies in Food Safety and Quality Management at Greenwich University, London, and attained a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Leicester. His quest for scholarly excellence reached its pinnacle with a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Antwerp in Belgium.

Oba Adeyemi’s academic prowess extended beyond the confines of the classroom, earning him recognition as a world-class scholar. His contributions to the field of Mass Communication, including publications in esteemed academic journals and presentations at conferences across Africa, Europe, and North America, solidified his reputation as a cerebral intellectual.

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However, his journey was not confined to academia alone.

Oba Adeyemi’s foray into journalism began humbly as a reporter for The Mail newspaper, where he honed his skills under the mentorship of Prof Idowu Sobowale. His career trajectory led him to prominent roles, including Public Relations Officer at the Lagos State Polytechnic and positions at Thisday Newspaper, where he earned acclaim for his coverage of tourism and hospitality.

Even as his academic and professional pursuits flourished, Oba Adeyemi remained deeply rooted in community service.

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His commitment to uplifting others led to his election as the Chairman of the Awori Obas Forum, Ogun State, and his involvement in Rotary Clubs, where he earned recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow.

In 2018, Oba Professor Adeyemi Abdulkabir Obalanlege was crowned the Olota of Otta, emerging as the preferred candidate after rigorous selection by the Ijemo Isoloshi Ruling House. Since then, he has led with wisdom and compassion, fostering unity and progress within the Awori Kingdom.

As the Royal Symbol of Awori Nation celebrates six years on the throne alongside his beloved wife, Olori Oloruntoyin Obalanlege, and their two accomplished sons, Mustapha and Tobi, the good people of Otta-Awori are satisfied about his legacy of scholarship, leadership, and service.

This is a testament to his unwavering commitment to the betterment of the kingdom and the preservation of Yoruba heritage.

May the reign of Lanlege Ekun II, Arole Iganmode Olofin continue to bring peace and tranquility to the entire Otta-Awori kingdom.

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Kitigbe o! Omo Iganmode a f’ele ja, a f’ikoti y’oju egba, a fi ponpondo y’oju Ketu.

Happy 6th coronation anniversary, baba mi!

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