How Okoroji Survived ‘Palace coup’

Tony Okoroji

By Osamudiamen Ogbonmwan

The drama that ensued in the Copyrights Society of Nigeria otherwise known as COSON a few weeks ago, that later culminated in the emergence of NOW Music boss, Efe Omorogbe as it’s new Chairman is yet to abate. The sudden change of guard left stakeholders and industry watchers in shock. Few days ago, what appeared like a failed palace coup ensured the return to office of Pioneer COSON Chairman, Tony Okoroji. The statement announcing his reinstatement was greeted with relief by stakeholders in the Music industry.

On Thursday, December 7, when the change in the society’s leadership was announced, an unprecedented uproar wafted across the industry with thousands of  COSON members eager to know the reason for the sudden change in leadership.Investigations revealed that phone lines to the society’s headquarters  were jambed, just as many rushed to its social media handle to lay their greviances. Some others physically stormed the headquarters to get first hand information as to why the ‘coup’ was staged

The Source was told by a member that they got suspicious when the  announcement neither disclosed the process leading to the sudden change nor the reason.  “They only releases a statement saying the change was made  after deliberations with members of the COSON Board.  The suspicion also deepened due to the fact that an extra-ordinary general meeting was to hold on the 19th of December. If any change was to be made, why didn’t it wait till the 19th? Why the hurry? We needed no soothsayer to know that a coup had taken place”, the source said.

Efe Omoregbe

In no time, fingers started pointing to a few members of the board as  masterminds of the change. To them, Dare Fasasi popular as know as Baba Dee and Obi Asika, Co-founder Cabal Ent.were behind the crisis.

“The change is occasioned by the need to reposition COSON and lead it to its new era. It is time to consolidate on our gains and ensure that we get the society to the place of our dreams,” Fasasi had explained

Asika was also quoted as saying: “On behalf of the Board and members of COSON, we want to thank Chief Tony Okoroji for his relentless service during his time as Chairman of this great society. It is on record that during the tenure of Chief Tony Okoroji, COSON made giant strides such as the commissioning of the magnificent COSON House; the first of its kind in the Nigerian music industry, the launch of COSON’s digital licensing platform, CLAP, amongst several other key projects. His tenure also brought about the collection and distribution of royalties by COSON yearly without fail since its approval in Nigeria. The remarkable achievements made are visible for all to see and are a lasting legacy of the work of Chief Tony Okoroji.  However we are confident that we are moving forward in the right direction and we know that COSON will continue to benefit from Chief Okoroji’s reservoir of knowledge and goodwill’’.

In a prompt reaction to the change, Okoroji in a statement claimed the change meant no doom for him.

“I was not born COSON Chairman and I frankly did not think it was a big deal. A few years ago, there was in fact nothing like COSON. The COSON brand was built practically from the scratch. I assumed the title in the course of the work which I have dedicated my life to. My dedication to the course has never been because of a title or because of personal wealth”.

However, a section of COSON members who spoke to this magazine posit that the attempted’ coup’ signify that members of the Society actually wield the power to effect changes in the body at the Extra-ordinary General Meeting.

After the day’s deliberation that was attended by several music icons from different parts of the country, it was resolved that the very sudden change of the Chairmanship of the Management Board of COSON which happened just 12 days to the Extra-ordinary General Meeting, under bizarre circumstances, “is condemned and annulled” by the COSON General Assembly.

The decision was nevertheless welcomed with a wild jubilation galore at the  COSON House in Ikeja. Svcorfingnto s statement released by COSON, the General Assembly clarified that Okoroji enjoys a great amount of respect and confidence from members of COSON across Nigeria and beyond ; and remains the Chairman of the Management Board of COSON.

Among those who attended the meeting were Victor Uwaifo, Shina Peters, Ras Kimono, Kenny Saint Best, Azeezat Allen, Hon John Ewelukwa Udegbunam, Prince Biodun Eguakhide and many others. The COSON members commended further Okoroji for his humility, maturity and comportment in the face of perfidy. They praised his vision and incomparable sacrifice towards the growth of the Nigerian creative industry and for making COSON the most transparent and accountable organization in the history of the Nigerian creative

Accepting the decision of the General Assembly,  Okoroji said that he is humbled by the love of the members of COSON and holds no animosity against anyone as a result of what had transpired in COSON and that as a father he knows that in any family, what happened recently in COSON would happen from time to time. He said that even though he disagreed with the process through which a handful of the members of the Board conspired to remove him, he had decided to move on and continue to serve the Nigerian creative community in his private capacity.

It came as no surprise to many when it was further announced that the Management Board of COSON has been reconstituted to lead the organization till the May 2018 Annual General Meeting of the society.

The new board, obviously, is without the masterminds of the botched change. Tony Okoroji sits as Chairman; while other members are musician, Azeezat Allen; musicologist and immediate Past-President of Music Label Owners & Recording Industries Association of Nigeria (MORAN),  John Ewelukwa Udegbunam; Rub-a-dub master, Ras Kimono; famed drummer, Richard Cole; Afro- Juju star, Sir Shina Peters; top gospel music singer, Kenny Saint Best; President of the Music Producers & Marketers Association of Nigeria (MUPMAN), Sharon Escco Wilson; Highlife singer and Leader of Energy Band, Maureen Ejezie and the Managing Director of the Benin City based Supreme Disc Ltd, Francis Ola Akinfesi.

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