The premises of the National Theatre in Lagos wore a festive look on Tuesday, December 13 as musicians of all shades and key players in the music industry came from different corners of the country for the 1
st Annual General Meeting of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation’s sole approved collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings.
Among the array of stars present at the venue were octogenarian musicians Chris Ajilo, Emmanuel Ntia and Fatai Rolling Dollar and Nigeria’s biggest reggae stars of all times, Majek Fashek, Ras Kimono, Black O’ Rice, etc. There were the likes of Zule Zoo, Baba Dee, Daddy Fresh, Onyeka Onwenu, Stella Monye, Kenny Saint Brown, Azzizat, Arthquake, Frank D’ Nero, Adewale Ayuba, Tony Grey, etc. Industry big wigs such as Efe Omorogbe of Now Muzik, managers of Tuface Idibia, Sunny Neji, TWO, Timi Dakolo, etc was there. So was Sunday Are of Mohits All Stars who manages D’ Banj, Wande Cole, Dr. Sid, etc. There was also renowned drummer, and producer Laolu Akins; Charles Novia of November Records; Toju Ejueyitchie of Premier Records; Joel Ajavi of Gospel Choral Records, John Ewelukwa Udegbunam, National President of MORAN and former
President of Gospel Musicians Association of Nigeria (GOMAN), Rev. Shola Rotimi who flew in from the United States. Former PMAN Secretary-General Okuoimose Emmanuel Okuoimose was there while the Director-General, Nigerian Copyright Commission, Mr. Afam Ezekude was represented by three of his top officials led by Mr. Chris Nkwocha.
In his more than 30 minutes speech which received intermittent applause and a standing ovation at the end, COSON Chairman, Chief Okoroji traced the multiple successes of COSON in its short period of existence. In the words of Chief Okoroji, “I was told that COSON would never be registered by the government and indeed significant steps were taken to block the registration of COSON. Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte (COSON) was on December 9, 2009 registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Abuja. I was told that COSON would never be approved as a CMO. Indeed, a huge amount of money was spread around to ensure that COSON was not approved. On May 20, 2010, COSON was given the certificate of approval by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to be Nigeria’s sole government licensed collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings. I was told that COSON would never be admitted into the membership of the International Confederation of Authors Societies (CISAC).
Indeed a significant international campaign was mounted to stop COSON from being so admitted. On June 24, 2011, news came from Paris, France that COSON had been admitted to the membership of CISAC.
“Today, the wings of COSON are spreading fast across the globe and our activities are being significantly supported by our partners in Geneva where the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has its headquarters; in Oslo where the Norwegian Copyright Development Association (NORCODE) operates from; in Harare where the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) has its headquarters and across many nations in every continent of the world where CISAC has member societies”.
Chief Okoroji said that it has since been a period of indescribable wall to wall activity fueled by unquenchable self belief and that COSON has become the affirmation of two maxims:
where there is a will, there is a way and
together we stand, divided we fall. Said Okoroji, “I can say with deep conviction that in the east, west, north and south of Nigeria today, among the young, old or middle aged in our industry, COSON has become a game changer as artistes across the country have become inspired by the COSON slogan, “Let the music pay!””
The highlight of the meeting was the announcement by Chief Okoroji that in keeping with the promise earlier made by the Board, the sum of
N25,720,588.20 (Twenty Five Million, Seven Hundred and Twenty Thousand, Five Hundred Eighty Eight Naira, Twenty Kobo) was available for immediate distribution to all members of COSON whose names can be found on the society’s register as at May 19, 2011, if so approved by the AGM. The scheme was indeed approved by the members and the distribution started at the venue amidst singing, dancing and jubilation as hundreds of musicians stood in line, collected their royalties peacefully and thanked the Almighty for witnessing the day when such could happen in Nigeria.