By Yes International! Magazine – September 1, 2019
Chief Tony Okoroji, Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the continent’s fastest growing copyright collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings, has called on thousands of COSON members across the country, other stakeholders in the music industry and creative people of all shades in the Nigerian nation to bond together and eschew every attempt to foist divisions within the Nigerian creative industry family.
According to Chief Okoroji, “as our nation desperately searches for direction in the attempt to exorcise the evil tendencies threatening to drown our people in despair, the unique voices of Nigeria’s creative talents must be heard and our God given skills deployed to bring about a soothing balm to the millions of our citizens who are terrified by the unrestrained violence, killings, abductions, kidnappings, brazen criminal conduct and the complete disregard for the sanctity of human lives, the rule of law and decent conduct witnessed in our environment today”.
Making the call in Lagos this September 1, 2019 as the nation marks the 10th anniversary of the annual “No Music Day”, Chief Okoroji said, “Creative people in Nigeria cannot afford to keep quiet at this time. We cannot just surrender the destiny of our nation to our politicians who have boldly advertised their shortcomings. Our musicians, writers, actors, broadcasters and others within our creative space must come out from wherever we are hiding to save the Nigerian nation from being dismembered with the attendant unimaginable cost. Whether we want to accept it or we want to hide from it, the unity of our nation is presently seriously threatened. We must confront the deep religious, tribal and sectional distrust resulting in continuous bloodletting the kind of which we have never previously witnessed”.
Said Chief Okoroji, “in the battle to save other people in the African continent faced with the kind of horror we are marching into, the voice of the Nigerian creative community was very loud. We must today rediscover that voice to save the soul of our nation”.
The celebrated former president of PMAN has also asked organizations and associations within the creative community to be smart and resist the “Divide and Rule” tactics of the adversaries of the creative community which tactics are being tactfully deployed to weaken the ability of the creative community to forcefully demand the respect of the rights of its stakeholders and to challenge the brazen and crude exploitation of the intellectual property of creative people in Nigeria.
Chief Okoroji cautioned creative industry organizations in Nigeria to watch out for “Do Gooders” who may be used to infiltrate their ranks and create instability within their structures which instability will then become the pretext to compulsorily acquire the use of the intellectual property of their members without any licence or authorization at the detriment of the constitutional rights of such members and their rights to earn a living from the exploitation of their intellectual property.
Chief Tony Okoroji who served on the committee that drafted the Copyright Act which set up the Nigerian Copyright Commission and twice served on the board of the NCC also thanked members of COSON all over Nigeria for their unshakable solidarity which he says has made it very difficult for COSON to be run over. Said Chief Okoroji, “I am happy with the members of COSON. Their understanding of the challenges we face is inspiring. They are true heroes in the battle to liberate the Nigerian creative person” He assured COSON members that their leadership is taking every action to repair the fractured relationship between COSON and the NCC so that the two organizations can work together to bring about true and sizeable reward for the members of COSON and the Nigerian nation.
Said Chief Okoroji, “At COSON, our members are very proud that we have built a strong institution which has become an important national movement with strong roots that can withstand pressure. We have shown clearly that we value our independence and that we are prepared to defend it. It is on record that we have always subjected COSON to the regulations of the NCC and we will continue to do so. For the good of the Nigerian nation, we wish to continue to work closely with the NCC as long as we are not asked to subject our institution or the members of COSON to slavery”.
“No Music Day” can be traced to that historic week in 2009 when Nigerian artistes of different shades embarked on a weeklong hunger strike staged in front of the National Theatre in Lagos. That hunger strike which was a result of the frustration resulting from the devastating level of intellectual property abuse in the country was the prelude to what has become known as “No Music Day” in Nigeria. It was on September 1, 2009 that practitioners in the Nigerian music industry asked all the over 400 licensed broadcast stations in the country not to broadcast music for a significant period of the day to let them appreciate the true meaning of a world without music.
It will be recalled that Chief Tony Okoroji, an unapologetic and most respected campaigner for intellectual property rights across Africa and author of “Copyright & the New Millionaires”, led the team that spearheaded the 2009 campaign which launched the annual “No Music Day” which has been celebrated every year since.