MUSIC INDUSTRY ICON, CHRIS AJILO, CALLS ON FG TO AWARD COSON CHAIRMAN, CHIEF TONY OKOROJI, ONE OF NIGERIA’S HIGHEST HONOURS
88 years old Chris Ajilo, one of the oldest living professional musicians in Nigeria and a pioneer musicologist, has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to award COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, one of the nation’s most significant honours for his exemplary service to Nigeria.
Pa Chris Ajilo, as he is fondly called, was General Manager of Performing & Mechanical Rights Society (PMRS), one of the key organisations that provided the platform for the formation of COSON. In a public statement he just issued, he said that he is aware of the huge sacrifice and self-denial it takes to build a successful organization with no government funds especially in the very unstable creative industry in Nigeria.
According to Ajilo, “For several decades I have watched Chief Tony Okoroji commit himself totally to the promotion and defence of the rights of musicians and other creative people in Nigeria with unequalled personal sacrifice and results that are very visible to everyone. Those of us in the music industry cannot be thankless people. Rather than persecute him, every well-meaning stakeholder in the music industry should join me in calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria to award Chief Tony Okoroji one of the nation’s most significant honours for his exemplary service to our country”.
In his statement, Pa Ajilo wrote, “By December 26, 2018, I will be 89 years old. I am one of the oldest living professional musicians in Nigeria and a pioneer musicologist. I worked for several years at Polygram as staff producer and thereafter consulted for Polygram and Premier Records Limited before assuming the role of pioneer General Manager of PMRS, a job I did for over two years without any pay. What I have learnt is that to successfully build an organization like PMAN, PMRS or COSON in which large numbers of creative people are brought together, you have to have the calling for what is essentially a thankless job.
“In November 2017, I travelled to Lagos from my home town, Ijebu Jesha, in Osun State. At Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos, I was honoured with a special award in a spectacular ceremony of the COSON Song Awards very professionally coordinated and produced by Chief Tony Okoroji and the COSON Management which made my trip to Lagos possible. Before that, I was present at the opening of the very beautiful COSON House, a magnificent structure belonging to the musicians of Nigeria built without borrowing a kobo by the unique leadership of Chief Okoroji.
“You can imagine my anger when last December, a few weeks after my return from Lagos, I learnt that one Efe Omorogbe had schemed with some others to kick out Chief Okoroji as Chairman of COSON and that Omorogbe was parading himself as Chairman of COSON and coordinating a broad media campaign to tarnish Chief Okoroji’s good name. This is a repeat of the PMAN experience”.
In conclusion of his public statement, Chris Ajilo, composer of the iconic song, ‘Eko Gbagbere’ used to celebrate Lagos, wrote, “I wish to place on record the fact that I condemn in no uncertain terms the attempt to foist Efe Omorogbe on COSON as Chairman. I commend the members of COSON who met in Lagos on December 19, 2017 for doing the right thing and restoring Chief Tony Okoroji as Chairman of COSON. I consider it an insult for anyone to seek to impose a leader on COSON. I call on the Nigerian Copyright Commission to draw a line between regulating the collective management activities of COSON and the attempt to control the internal affairs of the society which is not an appendage of the NCC. Led by the same Chief Okoroji, we fought for the setting up of the NCC to serve our industry and not to be lord and master over us. If they so badly want a job for Mr. Omorogbe, let them find him employment at the NCC”