“It was fantastic!”; “great!”; “top notch”; “unforgettable!”. These were some of the superlatives by which some attendees described the special Red Carpet Tribute Night in honour of the frontline Board member of COSON, Nigeria’s biggest copyright collective management organization, Honourable John Ewelukwa Udegbunam, who passed away in Onitsha recently.
Indeed, leaving the magnificent COSON House in Ikeja at about 9.00 pm on Tuesday September 14, 2021 after the event, a member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Nigeria (CCRN) who witnessed the occasion said, “wow! remarkable! Since everybody is going to die, this is the kind of send-off everyone would wish”.
From about 6.00 pm, friends, relations, admirers and colleagues of Honourable Udegbunam had taken over the expansive red carpet laid in front of COSON House and posed for photographs as cameras clicked away. Present were almost every member of the COSON Board including Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, Gospel Minister, Kenny Saint Best; Master of Impressions, Koffi Tha Guru; Celebrated drummer and producer, Richard Cole; Reggae toaster and producer, Engr. Sharon Esco Wilson Joshua, etc. Also present were COSON General Manager, Mrs. Bernice Eriemeghe-Ashibuogwu; her predecessor, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji and all the senior staff of COSON.
There were also the likes of ace broadcaster, Patrick Doyle; former PMAN President, Hajiya Amina Dangaji, City lawyer, James Ononiwu and Chartered Accountant, JKC Enebeli. Also on the red-carpet was Johannes Ewelukwa Udegbunam, the first son of the deceased who represented the family at the event.
A significant contingent of CCRN of which Hon Udegbunam was National Musical Director, stormed COSON House. The contingent was led by Mr. JIC Obi, member National Summit Committee of CCRN and renowned gospel singer, John Praise Onuchukwu, both of whom arrived with their beautiful wives.
The event thereafter shifted to the chilled and cozy “COSON Arena” at the top of COSON House. The arena with its array of lights and effects, was lit to capture the mood of the night as the guests were received by the exquisite live violin musical performance of the great young Nigerian violinist, Emmaolin whose dexterity on the violin left many in awe. Master compere, comedian and musician, Koffi Tha Guru, coordinated and intricately threaded a never-to-be-forgotten three hours of a night of endearing music, visuals and tributes.
It was Koffi who introduced COSON Board member and recent PDP candidate for the Chairmanship of Ifo Local Government of Ogun State, Evangelist Olusegun Omoyayi, who said the opening prayers. He then introduced the celebrated former President of PMAN and Chairman of COSON, Chief Tony Okoroji, to formally welcome the guests.
The very glowing tributes to Honorable Udegbunan began to flow. The first came from the Abuja based COSON Board member and bosom friend of the deceased, Chief Uche Emeka Paul who went back memory lane, told intimate stories of the times they shared and eulogized his special friend known by many as either ‘Eweson’ or ‘Honourable’.
Then, Kenny Saint Best (KSB) mounted the stage, took the microphone and rendered what may have been the most inspired performance of her career. Her voice filled the Arena, soared into the skies and brought everybody to their feet. She described Udegbunam as irreplaceable as she talked about his contribution to the COSON Board saying that he was a great warrior for a good cause whose memory will never fade away. The last tribute in the section was given by drummer boy emeritus, Richard Cole who joined everybody who spoke before him to underline the fact that John Ewelukwa Udegbunam was an exceptional human being who will be missed by all who knew him.
The lights in the Arena suddenly dimmed and the COSON House mega screen came to life with an intricately produced video and photo collage of the life and times of the great Eweson to which everybody was gripped as some cried but which at the end, received a resounding ovation.
In the second section of tributes, two representatives of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of Nigeria (CCRN), John Praise Onuchukwu and JIC Obi praised the man who they said sacrificed so much to build their organization and to implant CCRN across Nigeria. They were emphatic that Udegbunam was a man of service who gave his all for the good of all.
A huge plaque in appreciation of his father’s contribution to COSON, was presented by the Board of COSON to Johannes Ewelukwa Udegbunam, the first son of the deceased who represented the family at the event.
Once again, the lights dimmed in the Arena, an all-glass table was brought on stage, a voice from the wilderness filled the Arena and two African warriors in dramatic and magical fashion, from the back of the Arena, brought “THE BOOK”, the big COSON Roll of Honour and placed it on the glass table.
COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji then read a citation in which he said of Udegbunam, “He fought music pirates with both hands and everything else he could muster. He could easily have become rich by collecting money from the pirates and looking the other way. Udegbunam did not”.
The name, John Ndidika Ewelukwa Udegbunam was then entered into the COSON Roll of honour and his son Johannes Ewelukwa Udegbunam was decorated with the first ever posthumous Copyright Medal of Honour on behalf of his father.
Johannes who told the story of the struggles of his father from childhood, thereafter, thanked the Board and Management of COSON for the great honour done to his father. The great night personally produced by the master of many unforgettable events, Chief Tony Okoroji, ended with a great performance by Johannes Ewelukwa Udegbunam, of a medley of his father’s songs. Everyone joined in singing and dancing away a night that will stay fresh in the minds of many for a long time to come.