COSON: TONY OKOROJI & UNANSWERED QUESTIONS – Rhiemen Omorogbe
I have watched the whole COSON drama with keen interest since December 2017, and one thing that has caught my attention is the fact that Tony Okoroji always has a way of dodging direct answers to direct questions. For every direct question thrown to Tony Okoroji, he embarks on a long history lesson skipping the names of fellow impact-makers, painting himself in glory and sainthood, and presenting himself as someone being persecuted for his selflessness, or inviting people to the “magnificent COSON House” for answers.
When he is not doing this, he is presenting himself as a man of the people, who would rather perpetuate himself indefinitely in power, than resign honorably, when his integrity is being called into question. I have no problem with anyone singing their own praise, especially if deserved, but for a man who keeps preaching integrity, I find it quite worrisome he has repeatedly refused to share credit, by naming his co-architects, in the COSON success story, because it certainly hasn’t been a solo effort.
It beats me as to why a very selfless Tony Okoroji who has repeatedly preached his love for the success and growth of intellectual property and collective management rights in Nigeria, does not think it expedient to save his beloved COSON from the quagmire it has been embroiled in the past eighteen months. It is interesting that a self-styled “benevolent protector” of the commonwealth of intellectual property owners, would allow the sum of sixty-five million naira (N65m) as legal and security expense on internal issues, while distributing forty million naira (N40m) as royalties to right owners.
It is ironic that everybody, but the musician who COSON was set up to benefit, is profiting from the ongoing melee. Consultants, lawyers, security and police, have earned more in 2018 than all Nigerian musicians under COSON. And, a forensic audit that would cost COSON nothing and lay to rest, once and for all questions of financial impropriety, has become such a thorny issue, that has cost the society about N335m in 2018 alone (N270m less royalties collected compared in 2017, and N65m in office security and legal cost).
I will not delve into the history of the formation of COSON, as the likes of Kenny Ogungbe, Sunny Neji, Edi Lawani, Joel Ajayi, Toju Ejuyuetche, Efe Omorogbe, Obi Asika, Joey Ukpong, Laolu Akins, Dele Abiodun, Charlimo, Onyeka Onwenu etc., who attended the several meetings and were arrowheads of the various coalitions that came together to birth COSON, have more details than I do. Details of which I am sufficiently aware, and made my own little contribution in terms of finance and logistics.
All of the above mentioned, and thousands of other COSON members, are the true reason behind the COSON success story, and I’m sure more than a handful are very qualified to serve as directors and chairman of its board.
I would appreciate if Tony Okoroji can answer the following questions truthfully and directly, for the benefit of his “majority of COSON members” without embellishments of his “invaluable selfless contribution;
1. Is it true that your company, TOPS (Tony Okoroji & Partners), is a consultant to COSON, and has collected over fifty million naira (N50m), since you became director/chairman?
2. Is it true that fifty-eight million naira (N58m) was spent on renovation works carried out on the “magnificent COSON House”, without approval. As against eleven million naira (N11m) earlier approved by the board?
3. Is it true that 2017 COSON Week was not approved by the board, but you presented the sum of twenty-six million naira (N26m), for retroactive approval to your company – TOPS, for services rendered in relation to the same COSON Week?
4. Is it true that the reason for your removal as chairman of the board of directors on December 7, 2017, was due to financial impropriety & high-handedness, and you pleaded and asked for a second chance, which the board refused?
5. Is it true that your removal as chairman, didn’t equate to your removal from the board, but that you participated with Sir Victor Uwaifo and his allies at the EGM of December 19, 2017, to foist you back as chairman and sack your fellow directors, who voted for your removal as chairman, because you felt the only way you can ‘contribute’ to COSON, was as chairman of the board?
6. Is it true that COSON is under the regulatory authority of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), which not only issues COSON’s operating license, but reserves the right to sanction COSON, by suspension/revocation of its license, if it found wanting?
7. Is it true that a representative of NCC must be present at every COSON board meeting and report proceedings of same to NCC. And as such, the NCC has always been represented, so up to date on happenings at the COSON board?
8. Is it true that the only directors who supported you during your ouster as chairman of the board are Azeezat Allen and John Uduegbunam, who are also consultants/contractors to COSON?
9. Is it true that the other directors present/represented at the Dec. 7th board meeting were Obi Asika, Joel Ajayi, Dare (BabaDee) Fasasi, Efe Omorogbe, Paul Okeugo and Sikiru Agboola, and they have made equally outstanding contribution to the COSON success story?
10. Is it true that COSON funds were used in filing lawsuits against the directors in (9 above) in the aftermath of the December 19 EGM. And that COSON has spent more on legal fees fighting these members in 2018, than they did on defaulters in 2017?
11. Is it true that part of the board resolution taken at the December 7, 2017 meeting, was that no member of the board of directors, or their companies, was to service COSON in consultant/contractor capacity, for integrity and corporate governance reasons?
12. Is it true that the board had engaged experts like PWC and KPMG in preliminary talks with a view to engaging one of them for audit and strategic growth support services and that this line of progressive engagement has been jettisoned, so your company and those of Azeezat & John Uduegbunam can continue as consultants?
13. Are you saying that the “minority” – Banky W, Sound Sultan, Sunny Neji, 2Baba, MI, Omawumi, Waje, Mavin, EME, Hypertek, Cabal, Premier Music, Universal, Green Light Publishing, Chocolate City/Warner, Sony, Ruggedman, Vector, Square Records, Now Muzik, Timi Dakolo, Djinee, Skales, 9ice etc., whose catalogue generate the bulk of COSON income, and are privy to issues relating to your December 7, 2017, ouster as chairman, have no right to demand for a forensic audit until your fathom ‘majority’, who have no idea of the issues, authorise same?
14. Is it true that in 2018, COSON recorded a two hundred and seventy million naira (N270m) loss in revenue, incurred one hundred and forty seven million naira (N147m) admin cost representing over 70% as against the NCC-approved 30% cap?
15. Is it true that midway into the year, you and your directors have rendered COSON a renegade CMO by failure to renew the expired operating license of the society?