IT Is Not Wrong To Love Your Country

By  Tony Okoroji

Okoroji PHOTO: coson

Okoroji
PHOTO: coson

I once again thank the thousands of
members of COSON across the country, our affiliates, consultants, licensees, service providers and many friends of COSON at home and abroad. I appreciate you because without your unflinching
support, I will not be standing today.
I thank the members of the COSON
Board who have shown me camaraderie
beyond what anyone in my position
should expect in the present Nigerian
environment. I thank you Sir Shina Peters,
Kenny Saint Brown, Honourable John
Udegbunam, Ras Kimono, Azeezat Allen,
Maureen Uso, Eng Sharon Esco Wilson,
Richard Cole and Uche Emeka Paul.
I thank Chinedu Chukwuji, Bernice
Eriemeghe and the hard-working
members of the COSON management
and staff for your resolute stand in
defending the organization we have built
together.
I thank Prof. (Sir) Victor Uwaifo, Chief
Arala Osula, Akabaman, Tony Ukate,
Prince Biodun Eguakhide and the good
people of Edo State who have shown a
fantastic example, thrown tribalism to the
wind and fought against the injustice that
has been visited on me. Because of the
commitment and dedication of these
people, COSON has the potential to be a
much stronger and bigger organization
today than it has ever been.
Not very long ago, I received a very warm
welcome in Benin City from his Royal
Majesty, the Oba of Benin. Two years ago,
the Olubadan of Ibadan practically rolled
out the red carpet for the COSON
delegation which I led to his palace.
Two days ago, I was in the palace of the
revered Emir of Kano, the very brilliant
Mohammed Sanusi II. My delegation and
I were warmly received by the Emir. His
Highness who clearly understands
economics and the way the wealth of
nations is built, said very kind words and
had effusive praise for the work we are
doing to reposition our country. Our
subsequent Stakeholders Forum in Kano
will forever remain memorable to me.
Visiting an Oba, an Emir, a Minister or a
Governor in our continuous outreach to
expand the frontiers of the understanding
of intellectual property in our country, is
probably one percent of the work we do.
That is however the part of the work that
is glamorous and sometimes attracts
envy. Anyone who has managed a band
of a few musicians, will understand that
the real hard work of bringing together
thousands of creative people, managing
their effervescent temperaments and
molding them into a force for progress is
not beans.
In my work in the building of the
copyright system in Nigeria, I have carried
placards many times and led
demonstrations many-many times. I have
been to court and witnessed against top
corporations, governments and
individuals time and time again. I have
delivered lectures, organized myriad
conferences, seminars, workshops and
written opinion articles ceaselessly.
I have superintend over the building of an
outstanding Nigerian institution called
COSON which many thought could not be
done in our country. When the COSON
House was commissioned about 10
months ago, many were surprised that
there was not one Naira of government
money in the magnificent building, no
donor dollar, no bank loan and no debt of
any type. For eight years, not one of the
highly trained COSON staff has received
his or her salary one day late. No COSON
member entitled to royalties has ever
been denied money due to him. It might
surprise many to know that no COSON
member pays any registration fee,
monthly dues or subscription of any type
yet every COSON member is entitled to
some income every year.
My dedication to the copyright course
has never been because of a title or
because of personal wealth. My official
car for much of 2018 has been one
rickety 20-year old Toyota Camry. I do not
live in a house provided by COSON. No
member of my family goes to a hospital
provided by COSON. I do not go on a
vacation on the bill of COSON I have
written in Saturday Breakfast before that
I verily believe that the true worth of a
man is not in what he takes but in what
he gives. I have always asked the
Almighty to give me an opportunity to
give. Anyone who has worked with me
will tell you that I give my all to every
assignment I undertake. My dedication to
the copyright cause is because I love my
country and I see nothing wrong with
that.
Recently, to mess up my name, there has
been this loud campaign for the
‘independent’ audit of the COSON
accounts. The intent is to create the
impression that Okoroji is hiding
something. The strange inconvertible fact
is that the COSON accounts have been
independently audited every single year.
Each of the thousands of COSON
members, including those making the
noise, have copies of the audited
accounts which have been ratified by
COSON members annualy. Each of the
accounts is in the custody of the Nigerian
Copyright Commission, the Corporate
Affairs Commission and our international
partners. Copies of the audited accounts
are available at COSON House for anyone
to inspect. I am very proud of our
records at COSON.
Do you know who signed each of the
audited accounts? His name is Joel Ajayi.
He was the Chairman of the COSON
Finance & Audit Committee. Ajayi
supervised each of the audits and
everything was ok with him until
December 2017 when he participated in
the failed coup to kick Okoroji out. When
COSON members resolved to kick him out
of the board, he began to see double!
While I was in Kano trying to expand the
frontiers of copyright in our country, my
attention was drawn to a very long and
convoluted press statement issued by one
Afam Ezekude, Director-General of the
Nigerian Copyright Commission. It is clear
to any intelligent person that the press
statement is a prelude to an attempt to
kick Okoroji out and create confusion in
COSON.
Mr. Ezekude was not in Nigeria when my
colleagues and I took the bull by the horn
and made sure that the NCC was set up
for the good of the Nigerian creative
industry. He was brought from London by
his friend, the immediate past Attorney-
General of the Federation, Mohammed
Adokie, to come and ‘chop’ at the
commission. The result is that the once
vibrant Copyright Commission today lies
comatose.
As we built COSON, Ezekude turned his
back on us. The DG of the NCC has never
even visited COSON House, the gem of
the copyright system in Nigeria which has
welcomed many from home and abroad.
Since the December attempted coup at
COSON, Ezekude has not spoken to me
once. He never answered any of my calls
nor returned any of my text messages.
Watch out, very soon, Ezekude will
announce that he does not recognize
Okoroji as COSON Chairman.
The only problem is that COSON is not a
department in the NCC. It is a private
sector organization. Ezekude did not
make me Chairman of COSON. He is yet
to show which section of the Copyright
Act gives him the power to determine the
Chairman of COSON. He cannot tell you
which judge gave him the mandate to
interfere in the internal affairs of a private
sector organization. I do not worship
men. I only worship God. I swore to
defend the interest of the members of
COSON and I will do so.
Anyone who knows Afam Ezekude should
please advise him that since he cannot
help us, he should please leave COSON
and its members alone.

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