If Nigeria is Run With COSON’s Standards, She Would Be Great – Okoroji

Harrison-Uke Frank, also known as AmEE, is a creative artist, musician, and music teacher who recently held a successful concert in Lagos. Although Chief Tony Okoroji, Chairman of the Copyright Society of Nigeria( COSON), was scheduled to attend as a guest, he was unable to make it due to other commitments. Nevertheless, AmEE visited Chief Okoroji in his office to present him with the AnEE’s FGG Concert Award, recognising his outstanding leadership and contributions to the Nigerian music industry. In this interview, conducted by AmEE, during the award presentation, he discusses with Chief Okoroji the success of COSON under his leadership while Okoroji explains the principles that guide the organisation, which he believes could significantly improve the governance of Nigeria if implemented nationally.

Excerpts:

You were not at our event but we have deemed it fit to honour you with this award as a leader in the industry

I am really sorry I couldn’t make it to the concert. Though I was praying for you to succeed. So much is Happening here and as a servant of the people, I have to try to be everywhere almost at the same time . Please bear with me.

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I am a member of COSON before I had an accident, I had an opportunity to be at some AGM’s of COSON. I see the openness and transparency. Though some people may argue this. Your leadership approach is commendable. I know what COSON is going through in the hands of people who don’t believe in this change or don’t support you. I want to appreciate and celebrate you. One of the events that made me know I will have to do this someday is when I got an alert on my hospital bed while waiting for surgery as a result of the accident I had at that time. The money might look small but it meant a lot to me then knowing well how Nigeria is with one having to police, monitor and run after people in offices before things are done. In this case, I didn’t have to do anything to get my royalty paid. The second was during COVID 19 even amidst the freezing of the account Royalties or incentives was paid to us directly into our accounts. I Felt this and all other things done by you in the past is worth commending and celebrated so that you will at least know that some of us the younger generation see and appreciate what you have done and what you will still do in future. I pray that God will continue to elevate you and every of your battles will be won.

Thank you so much. At this time yesterday, this place was filled with so many young creative people.We had to bring in chairs from everywhere to accommodate them. They were brought by the Association of Artist Managers in Nigeria from different parts of the country. They came to learn about COSON and the works we do and the role we play in the development of Nigeria creative industry in Nigeria. We are all children of God and we all decide what we want to do with our lives .Some people have seen their life or their journey as to make as much money as they can for themselves.Some came with the concept of killing as many people as they can. Long ago I pledged that I will do everything I can for the creative industry in Nigeria and I will never turn my back in the creative industry in Nigeria regardless of the pains, torture and price. The trust that I have asked to be reposed on me, I will never sell it , negotiate or run away from it.
The money said to have been paid may not be much for an individual but if you multiply by the thousands of people who received it, then you will understand it’s a lot of thousands of Naira that are sent to people we don’t even know their names or faces because that’s what we pledged. I would have seized being the chairman of COSON a long time, but I said NO! I won’t let them have their way. We have nothing to hide. They brought EFCC, DSS. What are we doing that is against security in Nigeria? What’s DSS doing with us? They used NCC. If its NCC I know the law more than them. I was one of those who drafted the law. I was on the board of NCC twice.You can’t create a new law that is not a Nigerian law. I am ready to take them head on.They harassed us. One day a team of SARS before their ban came here to take over this place. Some of our staff had to jump the fence to escape. Nobody found anything.You can’t find what does not exist. Sir, you spoke of transparency. Since I became Chairman COSON, COSON accounts have been audited every year. Two years ago, one of the biggest auditing firms in the world, ‘BWC’ came and they spent seven months inspecting every transaction, receipts, bank account, drafts etc. At the end, they wrote a great report on the way we operate. I don’t have a house in Lagos. If anybody knows a house owned by me in Lagos either by me, my son or wife he should come forward. This doesn’t matter to me cause when I die, no one will bury me with a house.
I say to people if our Nation Nigeria is run like the standard COSON is run, Nigeria will be a great country. We have to just do what we have to do.I dont want anybody to believe us but the standard is set except for those who come close to us they say its not true . They are hiding something. They must be hiding something. If we are hiding something they should go and bring it from where we hid them and show it . So I thank a young man like you for believing in what we do. I’ll pray for you as I can and wish you well. The mindset of most officials and agencies in Nigeria is to stop you, to control you and put obstacles on your way.They tell you what not to do .They frustrate you but I always say leave people alone to fly and expand. If you look at the progress made by creative industry, it has been all individual effort. I met Hon. Lai Mohammed at an event and told him, Honourable, a lot of things you talk about and are planning to do, we are already doing it at COSON.We already have a large database of music and musicians and creatives in general. I invited him to come see for himself. He came with about ten of his DG’s . He was amazed to see that a private organization is doing something that the Government spends billions of Naira and never achieves success.When we commissioned this edifice, the COSON house, many were upset. They were surprised to see the standard . So they felt COSON is a goldmine that they should milk. So the next agenda is to grab from where they didn’t sow.They hope to stop us from doing the work that needs to be done but we will never be stopped and that’s why we keep winning them in court.

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