By Manny Ita
The Association of professional party organisers and event managers of Nigeria APPOEMN, over the weekend feted friends, colleagues and members to the sending forth of outgoing executives of the association and the inauguration of new executive members who are going to run its affairs for the next two years.
It was vintage APPOEMN in all ramification as guests were ushered in to the exquisitely decorated hall of highbrow Chinaville Chinese restaurant in Victoria Island Lagos, all resplendent in different shades of various fashion attires.
With MC Abbey coordinating the business of the day, it was really a delightful evening as it was all sandwiched in bouts of fun and laughter.
Beginning with a prayer by the Public Relations Officer of the association, Mrs Bose Abisagbo, an introduction of everyone present including the old and new executive members was done after which the new executive members were presented. The event dovetailed into moments of emotions when some members were selected to make remarks about the the outgoing executives. It was no surprise that virtually everyone spoke in glowing terms about the outgoing president of the association, Gbemisola Ope who apparently did a great job shoring up the profile of the association and boosting its integrity, taking the industry to remarkable heights.
SMILE INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE once again had audience with the beautiful and amiable Gbemi, who spoke about her tenure, challenges and success.
About her experience as president of the event planning association for two years, Gbemi admitted it was a mixed bag of the good, bad and ugly.
Beginning with the ugly, she said, “It was a fight for relevance in the industry amongst our peers. It was a real struggle but eventually we were able to get the government and the private sector to see us as an association and take us seriously. Within the association we also had ups and downs bur but after four years I am happy we were able to do a lot of work, set some standards by putting some regulations in place. It was good. I met a lot of people and as a person in leadership, I must admit I also grew,”
There is no gainsaying the fact that the event industry was one of the hardest hit with the incursion of Covid-19 which brought the world and its economies to a standstill. On the potential loss for the event industry in Nigeria occasioned by the virus, Gbemi averred, “Generally if we were for example a N90bn industry, it took us down to N100m.
Now in an advisory position in the association, Gbemi however said she would always be there to support the new executives.
Speaking about her programs and plans, incoming president of the association, Mrs Adefunke Kuyoro disclosed that one of the plans of the association before Covid 19 was to open up other chapters and also do a road show to Abuja in May last year, plans that were still going to be executed as the situation improved.
According to her, what the association was presently concerned with was the welfare of its members, many of whom had nothing to fall back on as the industry was shut, having been fully into events, and even when the lock-down was lifted and economic activities resumed, the events industry remained shut.
“There were a number of our members who didn’t have or know anything else to do as their whole life had been events; so it was important to open up their minds to look outside the box, in the quest for survival, pending when the industry would open again. Some went into farming, others cooked and delivered to people while some others engaged in similar activities.”
“Nevertheless, we still have to move on, so we train people because except we ourselves have become covid compliant, we have no audacity to go to government and ask to open us up, so we spend time to train our members on every aspect of health and safety issues that they need to abide by with respect to setting up and carrying out events. Virtual meetings have also really helped us. Hot on our heels is the need to expand. ” Kuyoro disclosed.
Another member of the old executive elected into the new is the image maker of the association, Bose Abisagbo, who for the past two years and running has been building the brand image of the association, seeing it as a call to serve, saying that was only possible by the basic standards set in the organisation.
According to her, “it’s not just about APPOEMN as an association, but about the industry. Even you our media friends and partners, we’re all in it together because we’re an entertainment industry that carry events and information which is what you cover. If we don’t do things right by standard, that is what you are going to show the world, so it begins with every individual who is a brand in the industry. We all have to belong to a group where together we ensure that we get the right standards that we want to operate by, ensuring there’s a code of conduct, a particular way we want to operate by, such that clients and everyone involved in what we do are protected and life is better for everyone.”
When asked if she aspired for a higher office, she averred she just aspires to serve, “aspiration is important because it brings you to a place where you can impact more, whether in a small or big space, so this has opened me up to a large space and of course there’s room for more to be done and there’s still more that needs to be done. That’s where the aspiration comes in, where I can impact more, do more, contribute more of my quota to the space, so yes, I can say I aspire to bigger or higher position where I can impact even more.”
On how the bond of unity in the organisation has been maintained, Abosede pointed to the fact that everyone in the industry was faced with the same challenges which has been a strong unifying factor. “ the challenges in the industry faces all of us so for us to do better and surmount these challenges, we must come together in unity, face the real issues and leave out those things that tend to divide us. I always say together we are stronger and can do more, so when we begin to think as a team, as one body in this industry, the better for all of us, and only then will we be taken seriously.
Vice president and founding member of the association, Olufunbi Akinyosoye said her election as VP simply demanded rolling up her sleeves to serve and take APPOEMN to the next level, saying the outgoing executives left shoes very big to fill.
“APPOEMN is setting standards in the industry. For instance, we have a low entry barrier and that has been for a long time. Now we want to take it higher; we want to embrace affiliates globally. A win for one is a win for all, so we want to make sure everyone stays on the winning side. We want everyone to put their best foot forward and succeed.”
At the end of the day, it was a general belief and understanding that while the association may have in a short while made remarkable strides, there still was more to be done, which puts the onus on the inaugurated Exco.
It was traditional APPOEMN as guests and friends were treated to an assortment of delicious cuisines and drinks, winding up an accomplished evening of fun, camaraderie and blissful reunion.