PREMIER Music MD,Toju Ejueyitchie, Speaks On Leadership Crisis In COSON And Other Issues
Mr. Toju Ejueyitchie is the managing director of Nigeria’s oldest recording company founded in 1963. He spoke to us on the leadership tussle rocking Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) and other matters of interest. Excerpt.
What exactly is Premier Music’s position in this crisis rocking COSON taking into consideration that Premier Music played a huge role in the formation of the society?
I will, first of all, take you back to understand what Collective Administration is all about. It is as simple as this. Every right owner cannot go to all right users to collect their money. It was on account of this that COSON was formed and a good level of transparency and good cooperate governance was expected from it. Premier as an organisation was established in 1963 and over the years has acquired huge repertoire or rights that are daily exploited all over the country. And it is expected that we earn something commensurate from COSON on our rights. The collection, by COSON, has been on the rise each year. However, where we have a problem is how it is spent or distributed. We are worried that so much have spent on frivolities but not enough on the right owners. That is our worry. And that is why we we support the issue of forensic probe some members are calling for. Although, COSON says that the account has been audited every year. Premier has written to the board on both the 2015 and 2016 accounts raising serious issues. No explanation to date has been given. Where is the transparency? The call for forensic audit goes beyond a statutory audit which the society has had over the years. If there is transparency, then no one would object to the forensic audit.
Are you one of those worried that you are not given your due entitlement?
Well, I will put it this way; obviously there is something wrong because recently we have received some royalty from COSON and we have had cause to refund some money because the works for which they paid us for were not ours. If that could happen to us, it means that some other persons or organisations may have also be paid for what is not theirs and it worries me because who knows how much of our money that have been paid to other people. That worries me so much.
How do you feel about the leadership crisis going on in COSON; are you worried?
Who would not? Everywhere stakeholder should be worried. But, first of all, the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has clarified it and is on the road to solving the problem. The real problem is, correct those mistakes and make COSON the best collective society in Africa and the world. Putting in the best independent minded management and getting members to know their rights. Know what collective society is all about. Some members do not understand how collective society works. That is the truth. I do not know what 2017 report will say, but in 2016, COSON made well over N300 million from the exploitation of the rights of it members here in Nigeria. We do not know how much of our work is exploited abroad because nobody has told us but it can make more than the over N300 million because Nigerian music is played all over the world and it is supposed to be for the benefit of rights owners not for any individual or group of people
Considering what you have said about the money paid to your organisation for works which are not yours and considering the number of your repertoire and the role you played in the formation of COSON, why are you or your representative not on the board of COSON?
Well, the society has members and they vote for members to be on the board. Since I left the board in 2012 and as an organisation, we have decided not to present anybody for membership of the board. Recently what we have demanded for and which NCC supported, is that we should have a professional company secretary who should handle the issues of Annual General Meeting, membership of the society, voting and so on so that they are properly done.
Do you know the exact amount you earn from abroad?
No, because right now we have not been told the exact amount that accrue to us from users of our rights abroad.
Has there been any response from COSON as per the money Premier Music returned as wrongful payment?
Yes it responded and said it made a mistake.
Does it end there?
Well, it is a process and there are other issues we are demanding.
Other issues like what?
Other points of disagreement and we are asking for clarifications.
Do you have any means of monitoring how regularly your works are used by rights users?
Right now? No; but they are technological device to do that and it is hoped that COSON has it to know who is using what.