The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) board ended the COSON Week on Saturday, November 7, 2015, on a good note. ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with the chairman of COSON Board, Chief Tony Okoroji, where he gave kudos to the event.
How does it feel that the seven day COSON Week has come and ended?
Wow! I am the happiest man in Nigeria. Everything went like clockwork but the obstacles on the way to the success of the COSON Week were numerous and huge. There were a number of people who were convinced that doing those seven massive events in seven days is impossible.
If you add COSON in the Mosque, that is eight events. Then you add the Nigerian Music Machine, our super gloss magazine that came out simultaneously… then you can understand the challenge. I was advised to collapse some of the events to make the enormous burden lighter. I vehemently refused. A man is bound by his words. I had repeatedly promised Nigerians that each of the events would be held as scheduled and the Music Machine would be published. I had a duty to keep my promise.
How will you describe the experience?
My Lord and my God! It took everything I have got and more. I was like a ball juggler with countless balls in the air. I must have written over 2,000 letters, sent thousands of e-mails and made endless calls. I was running about N15,000 in phone bills every week and some more in data bundles.
For two months, I slept on the floor at the COSON office sometimes for one or two hours a night with some of the people working with me. Going home was out of the question. There were just countless preparations to make: designs, scripts, graphics, promos, animations, etc., etc. Each had to be done to Class ‘A’ standard if we must present the world standard events we promised our country.
How much did the seven day event gulp?
We are still putting together the total cost but we may have done the events at about 15 percent of the original budget… what the events should cost. There really was just no money to execute such a gigantic undertaking. There were moments when it appeared like the entire project would go up in flames.
Left and right, a number of the organizations who promised to provide support, at the last minute reneged. At moments, I felt like an orphan. I was desperate and in the middle fell sick but I had to keep working and continue to have faith in the Almighty and drive on with the self – belief which has brought me this far.
To save costs, I had to lean heavily on friends and deployed practically all the goodwill and skills that God has given me. I personally negotiated with owners of venues to bring the costs to the barest minimum. I had to haggle with every service provider and discuss payment terms because the money simply was not there. I am sure that few people will believe that a week to COSON Week, we had not paid for any of the venues we used. It was that bad. We still owe one of the venues some money which we will soon settle because despite their stringent conditions, they placed their trust in me.
How was the turn out?
At COSON in the Church, we had two archbishops and several pastors with the best gospel singers you can find in Nigeria. The red carpet and cocktails were awesome. The music was incredible and the technical quality from sound to visual projections, animation and lights was first class.
Of course, we had a world class host in Victor Oladokun. The value of the several meetings and planning sessions we had with Pastor Faseru and his operatives at KICC Prayer Dome became manifest. Having worked closely with KICC’s Administrator, Mrs. Modupe Mujota on COSON in the Church, I had asked why no governor had made her his Chief of Staff because she is quite efficient. It was then I was informed that she had just been appointed Commissioner for Education in Ogun State.
At the COSON Lecture at Lagos Sheraton, the keynote address was by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and our Guest of Honour was the incomparable Judge of the World Court at The Hague and former Attorney-General of the Federation, Prince Bola Ajibola. You cannot ask for more.
At the COSON Green Ball, we had a line-up of Nigeria’s men and women of influence like Olorogun Oscar Ibru, Senator Florence Ita Giwa, Mr Jimi Agbaje, Princess Abah Folawiyo, Chief Opral Benson, Otunba Yinka Solarin, etc. Two governors were represented. Everywhere, we had good quality attendance.
Was it what you expected?
Ask anyone who works with me and they will tell you that I am never satisfied. I believe that we can always do better. Having said that, I am convinced that we did very well under the circumstances and Nigerians will see this when the spectacular events of the COSON Week appear on TV screens across the country. We are working with some TV networks to have the events broadcast. We are already doing the post mortem of the events and will surely find areas where we can do better. One area where I am very happy is that we had very good quality in sound, visuals and lights at COSON in the Church, COSON Lecture, COSON Green Ball, COSON Song Awards and COSON Storms the Beach. That gives me great joy and I salute our technical teams that made it possible.
What were some of the challenges you faced during the planning and how were you able to overcome them.
I have already spoken about the significant financial challenges. I know that a lot of people will be surprised about this because COSON is viewed as being financially buoyant. The truth is that the money in the coffers of COSON belongs to our members as distributable royalties and must be managed prudently. While the COSON Week promotes the objects of the society, it is the policy that the COSON Week, as much as possible, be funded outside the distributable income of the members.
Of course, there are the cultural challenges; I am a perfectionist and I find that people are irritated by my insistence that things be done well. The other major challenge is that many Nigerians find it difficult to keep their words. There were artistes who swore to me that they would perform at specific events who never showed up and did not find it in themselves to apologize. There were many people who assumed responsibilities and disappeared and I had to pick up their assigned tasks at the last minute. For instance, in the midst of so much around me, I had to assume editorship of a major publication like the Music Machine, write stories and go in search of the adverts to support the publication. The guy who was contracted to edit the magazine, dropped out less than two weeks to press time, without notice. If I did not, that beautiful publication would have failed.
I also notice that at almost every event, we were set to go at the advertised time only to wait for the guests because Nigerians have entrenched the habit of attending events late..
What were some of the lapses you noticed in this year’s edition?
I have found out that Nigerians love entertainment but due to some of the things that have happened here, almost no one wants to pay to attend an entertainment event. We all want it for free. The telcoms and the beverage manufacturers have been organizing big concerts and giving them to their consumers for virtually free. We have now formed the habit of free shows. When you ask a Nigerian to pay to attend a show, he looks at you with scorn. Out of our several events, we experimented ticketing two of them and the result was abysmal. We must change the culture of free music, free movies, free content and free everything because these things are very expensive to put together.
At the end of the day, I hope we have proved that Nigerians can take on challenging tasks and excel in them. I could feel the pride as we brought together Nigerians of different tribes and religions and our foreign guests at the different events. I could see the happiness in the faces of the people of Lagos as COSON hit the streets. I could feel the joy that we brought to the children at the motherless babies home we visited.
There are many without whom COSON Week would have been a failure. They burnt the midnight oil with me: I cannot mention all of them but I must mention Seun Ademola, my graphic designer; Wasiu Oyejobi, my printer; Tajudeen Ademola, my animator; Ayodele Vincent, my set man; Aladave, the lighting wiz; Etoma Edu who did all the voice overs; Eze Don Pedro Delphinus who carried COSON in the Streets on his head and held the show together at Atican Beach; Athan who built the amazing tunnel at Eko Hotel under tremendous odds. There were of course Princess Ann Inyang who refused to let COSON in the Church go down without a fight; Aisha Joy Omosun, Gbemi Amodu, Maureen Ejezie; TJ, my son; Onyeka Nique Elliot; Azeezat Allen who believed when few did. I am definite that without the dedication of my two young personal assistants, Edith Uzosike, Esther Olarenwaju and Ijeoma Peters, the 2015 COSON Week would have been a pipe dream.
- NKECHINYERE IBEREME