On this 20th day of May 2020, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the official take-off of the operations of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) which has become Nigeria’s must successful and most admired copyright collective management organization.
When we began our journey on May 20, 2010, very few people gave us any chance of success. We had been told, over and over again, that collective management of copyright would never work in Nigeria and that the Nigerian creative industry lacked the discipline to build the stable and complex institution required to make collective management a success. With very focused leadership and fired up by our slogan, “let the music pay!”, COSON has broken that tough jinx and has built an institution that works.
From Day 1, we have kept strictly to every rule in the book and complied with every law of our nation. For ten years, we never missed one Annual General Meeting and every year, we have had our AGM in the month of May, the month we celebrate our take-off. At each of our AGMs, we have invited a cross section of the media to follow and report our very open discussions and deliberations. Transparency has been our watchword and we had our meetings in the open because at COSON we have never had anything to hide. Indeed, apart from the statutorily prescribed Annual General Meeting, we also held an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting every December at which our members had an open opportunity to discuss every issue. The COSON Board had fixed a date for the 2020 COSON Annual General Meeting this May in the COSON tradition. Unfortunately, because of the COVID 19 restrictions, the AGM would have to be held on another date.
Without the prompting of anyone, the COSON accounts have been audited every single year by auditors appointed by our Annual General Meetings as required by the Companies & Allied Matters Act (CAMA). We have had the audited accounts reviewed and approved by our AGM as required by law and filed each annual return with the Corporate Affairs Commission and sent an activity report made up of hundreds of pages every year to the NCC. Without any question, COSON has been the most transparent and accountable organization in the history of the Nigerian creative industry.
When the COSON House was commissioned exactly three years ago, a lot of people were surprised that there was not one Naira of government money in the acquisition and construction of this magnificent building, no donor dollar or pound came from anywhere and that we acquired, built and equipped COSON House with no bank loan and no debt of any type. COSON has never received any money from the government.
For ten years, except for one month, the month of December 2018 when all the COSON bank accounts were mysteriously frozen without notice, not one of the highly trained staff of COSON has received his or her salary one day late. It is also a fact that no COSON member has ever paid any registration fee, monthly dues or subscription of any type to COSON yet every COSON member is entitled to some income from us every year.
In its ten years of operation, COSON has distributed hundreds of millions of Naira as royalties to its members and affiliates. In April 2020, even with the major bank accounts of COSON still frozen and the issues in court, COSON in a responsive and responsible manner reacted to the suffering of its thousands of members across the country under the pressure of the COVID 19 lockdown. The society became the first Nigerian institution to provide such palliatives to its members at a time of great need. At first, =N=50 million was approved by the COSON Board for this purpose. An additional =N=22.5 million was later approved. The distribution has been done in a very structured, professional and transparent manner which has been widely celebrated by members of COSON.
We are very proud of the success that COSON has achieved which is a product of the leadership’s laser focused dedication to defending the interest and welfare of our members and the deft management of our resources.
Unfortunately, the COSON outstanding success also became our albatross. As it has become clear that we have broken the jinx and built an organization which across the continent is being celebrated, several midnight plots and gang-ups began to emerge. All kind of plots have been hatched to hijack for a few people COSON which we have built as a pan-Nigerian organization to provide succor to all owners of musical works and sound recordings in every nook and cranny of the Nigerian nation. All kinds of false stories have been manufactured and spread to tarnish the image of our great organization. Fortunately, despite all the stones thrown at COSON, our organization continues to stand firm. Despite the many attempts to derail COSON, our organization continues to stand strong, proving the fact that the Nigerian creative industry finally has an institution with roots strong enough to withstand the rascality that has caused our industry great instability and destroyed creative industry institutions in our country.
This success is not just due to the leadership but also to the membership which has overwhelmingly shown unflinching support to COSON and those of our licensees and partners who have continued to pledge their faith in COSON.
As we commence a new stage of our journey, COSON has announced key changes in the management of the society with Ms. Bernice Eriemeghe, a well-trained and experienced professional accountant taking over as General Manager from Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji. This transition has been done in a very friendly manner with strong camaraderie and warmth, once again proving the maturity of the leadership available to COSON.
Going forward, the COSON Board has directed the management team to be laser focused on making COSON a first class international organization driven by data, digital technology, transparency and accountability with the clear objective being the happiness and well-being of our members and other stakeholders.
I have no doubt that once again we will deliver and make the members of COSON proud. We will also make all Nigerians who appreciate good things in our country happy.
My heartfelt thanks to all of you.
CHIEF TONY OKOROJI
May 20, 2020