ARTFUL DODGER: OKOROJI’S WEEKLY BREAKFAST SERVING OF SELF-HURTING RHETORICS

By Victor Ojelabi

For the umpteenth time, Chief Tony Okoroji uses his weekly SATURDAY BREAKFAST with TONY OKOROJI on his Facebook page to affirm his innocence, promote his pedigree, sell his altruism, attack his opponents and work up a storm of emotions without addressing the real issues.

Saturday, May 11, 2019’s “THE POSSIBILITY OF THE IMPOSSIBLE” yet again, rehashed often published statements with a concluding paragraph that appears to reference the #AuditCOSON position that was one of the key outcomes of the Music Publishers Association of Nigeria (MPAN) Town Hall Meeting of May 10, 2019.

Okoroji’s rancid rigmarole would impress only those who badly want to be impressed simply because the one true route to validating his aggressively professed innocence is the route his so vehemently seeks to dodge or discredit – the full forensic audit of the account and operations of COSON under his tenure as chairman.

While his supporters read and cheer, these in my humble opinion, are the questions discerning minds ask:

OKOROJI’S QUOTE:

“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 most times attracts envy.

REACTION:

Are we supposed to believe that busy COSON directors like Obi Asika, SK Sensation, Efe Omorogbe and Audu Maikori were suddenly so idle and petty that they grew envious of Okoroji because of royal visits?

 

OKOROJI’S QUOTE:

“Anyone who has managed a band of a few musicians, will understand that bringing together thousands of creative people, managing their effervescent temperaments and molding them into a force for progress is not beans.”

REACTION:

Doesn’t this imply that Okoroji single-handedly “brought together and moulded thousands of creative people into a force”?

 

Does this claim correlate with the widely known fact that COSON was founded and promoted by the Nigerian Music Industry Coalition made up of several leading industry associations like AM.B-Pro, PMAN, NARI, PMRS etc?

Have the likes of Laolu Akins, Edi Lawani, Efe Omorogbe, Toju Ejueyitchie, Ebenezer Obey, Onyeka Onwenu, Audu Maikori, Sunny Neji, Dele Abiodun, Goddy Tabansi, Charlimo, Joel Ajayi, Joey Ukpong, Tony Anifite and many more not been repeatedly celebrated for their efforts in birthing COSON?

OKOROJI’S QUOTE:

“I have superintended over the building of an outstanding Nigerian institution called COSON which many said could never see the light of day. When the COSON House was commissioned almost two years ago, a lot of people were surprised that there was not one Naira of government money in the magnificent building, no donor dollar from anywhere, no bank loan and no debt of any type.”

REACTION:

The process of onboarding the contractor has been questioned.

 

The directors have alleged that the figures paid to the said contractor were neither negotiated nor approved by the board.

 

They have also alleged that an attempt to save COSON some money by pressing for a discount on the final instalment of the said payment was resisted by Okoroji and indeed, led to the illegal disollution of the finance committee by Okoroji.

 

Is it more important to bask in the euphoria of the commissioning of the “magnificent COSON House without government money or donor dollar than insist on proper procurement process for a public institution?

OKOROJI’S QUOTE:

“For eight years, not one of the highly trained staff of COSON received his or her salary one day late. Not until recently, when some meddlesome interlopers went to court behind our backs to shut down the bank accounts of COSON.”

REACTION:

The order to freeze the COSON accounts made provision for the payment of staff emoluments and the lawyers of the plaintiffs reportedly made attempts to ensure those payments were made.

 

Could COSON have ignored the approach to create the false impression that the action was carried out to deny the staff of their entitlement?

OKOROJI’S QUOTE:

“My dedication to the copyright cause has never been because of a title or because of personal wealth. My official car for much of 2018 was one rickety 20-year old Toyota Camry and later on, one 16-year old Honda Pilot. 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. Pray, how many bags of Naira will I be buried with?”

REACTION:

The press statement from the press conference of January 16, 2018 stated that Okoroji illegally collected almost N10,000,000.00 (Ten million naira) as personal commission from a single royalty settlement in 2017.

 

Some directors have also alleged that no individual or corporate member of COSON has collected anything near what Okoroji/TOPS has collected from the society in last three years prior to the beginning of the crisis in December 2017. Not the performer, author or writer of the biggest hits, not the label or publishing company with the biggest repertoire.

 

Okoroji claims he’s a “poor” selfless target of the envious interlopers. The directors claim he is bleeding the collecting society. Shouldn’t it be Okoroji canvassing #AuditCOSON to clear his name?

 

OKOROJI’S QUOTE:

“In the last 12 months, I have been dragged to the Nigeria Police, the EFCC and visited by SARS. Not long ago, it was all over the media that the Copyright Commission has filed criminal charges against me and some of my colleagues at COSON for working for the good of our country! They did not file the charges because we did anything wrong but because we did everything right.”

REACTION:

Okoroji and colleagues were charged with criminally operating a CMO with a suspended licence, not for “working for the good of our country”.

OKOROJI’S QUOTE:

“To think that I was one of the people who wrote the law setting up the Nigerian Copyright Commission. Typical Nigerians, they badly want to hijack COSON and bleed it dry.”

 

REACTION:

Does this place Okoroji above the law or COSON beyond the regulation of the commission?

OKOROJI’S QUOTE:

“Recently, they began this loud campaign for the ‘independent’ audit of the COSON accounts. The intent is to create the impression that Okoroji’s hands are not clean. “He is hiding something somewhere”. The persons who started this campaign know the truth. The truth is that no organization in the history of the Nigerian creative industry has, year after year, been meticulously audited like COSON. Not the NCC. Not PMAN. Not NARI. Not REPRONIG. Not AVRS. Not AMB – PRO. Not AGN!”

REACTION:

If hundreds of prominent members and even directors have been calling for the audit for more than a year, isn’t better to allow the “independent” audit shame those who claim that “Okoroji’s hands are not clean”?

 

How is a Facebook post advancing a lame argument that COSON is more meticulously audited than NCC, AGN, PMAN or NARI stronger proof of innocence than the independent audit?

OKOROJI’S QUOTE:

“Each of the thousands of COSON members, including those making the noise, have copies of the COSON audited accounts which have been ratified by COSON members every single year, as required by law.”

REACTION:

Do these copies of the COSON audited accounts show details that exonerate Okoroji/TOPS of claims of illegally collecting tens of millions from COSON over the years?

 

If not, then a full forensic audit is necessary to validate their claims or exonerate the accused.

OKOROJI’S QUOTE:

“I swore to defend the interest of the members of COSON as long as they want me to.”

REACTION:

“This is interesting! Are the directors and hitmakers – including Sound Sultan, Falz, EME, Skales, Mavin, Square Records, Vector, Chocolate City, 2Baba, Timi Dakolo, 9ice, Brymo, Sunny Neji, Ruggedman, Tunde & Wunmi Obe, Universal, Green Light Publishing etc – whose works mainly earn licensing income for COSON not MEMBERS in Okoroji’s view?

Haven’t they, some after more than a year of questions and petitions, stated it clearly enough that Okoroji should step aside for a while, allow the audit prove his innocence before resuming his self appointed Voltron role? Or is it like, those who do not agree with him are automatically non-members, irrelevant members or enemies of COSON?

Someone should tell Chief Tony Okoroji that thesw Maradona-esque manoeuvres are clearly more indicting that the rantings of his envious enemies. He should be advised to do the needful, prove his innocence and shame his detractors once and for all.

#AuditCOSON.

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