The COSON chairman Chief Tony Okoroji took to the social media to recount on the positive risks and roles he played to ensuring the welfare of COSON members were taken care of during the recent lockdown as a result of the Covid -19 outbreak.

Here’s what Chief Tony Okoroji wrote:

aman unbelievably lucky guy and I thank the Almighty for the incredible protection he has given me in many trying circumstances and under conditions that would have broken many men. For a guy who goes to church only once in a while, it is in every way a miracle!

Believe me, I have repeatedly seen the treachery and betrayal of men and how people rationalize the nonsense they do. If you are not careful, you will tend to believe that there is no good man left in the world anymore and there is no reason to do good to anyone.

Then you have the experience I have had in this most trying period of the coronavirus pandemic and you realize how wrong you are.

I have written before that I was a key founding father of PMRS, the major organization that gave birth to COSON. I did much of the technical work at PMRS and could easily have become the first Chairman of PMRS if I wanted to. The first Chairperson of PMRS was not Tony Okoroji but Erelu Keji Okunowo, a beautiful lady who used to be MD of Sony Music in Nigeria. I supported her the best I could. I did not become Chairman after Okunowo. The late Christy Essien Igbokwe took over from Chief Okunowo. I also supported Christy the best I could.

When I succeeded Mrs. Igbokwe, it was clear to me that there was just too much talk in PMRS and too little action; too much planning and too little execution. In many creative industry organizations in Africa, people just squabble and squabble without producing any enduring results. I concluded that if we were to build a copyright organization that will be exemplary and stand the text of time, the driving force would be execution

There are people who complain that I am ‘Executive Chairman’ at COSON. The truth is that when everyone else leaves the boardroom, I stay back to intensely review with management the decisions made by the board and determine how to give them feet to walk and wings to fly. I simply do not believe in talk without action. People often ask me: what is the secret of the success of COSON? If I had to answer in one word, the word would be ‘execution’.

I do not consider my position as Chairman to be to sit and beautify a chair or to wear ‘agbada’ at big occasions and make meaningless speeches. I am the team leader. My job is to make sure that work is going on and we are executing to the benefit of our members. I am the general in front of the army and not behind. I do not ask others to work while I drink pepper soup. If need be, I get the work done. I go to court almost every other day to defend the interest of the members of COSON.

Take it from me: most people do not say what they mean. You have to read their lips. Some will tell you that Okoroji is “Executive Chairman” and is doing everything himself. Next minute, the same people will tell you that Okoroji did nothing, “we are the ones who did all the work”!

I have seen people sit in the boardroom of the beautiful COSON House with the cool air conditioner blowing them from above and a choice of tea, coffee or some other drink available to them and beat their chests at what COSON has achieved and in the same vain complain about me. They will tell you that they don’t like the style that led to the achievement of the success they celebrate. You then ask yourself, “what do they really want: process or product, style or success?”

In the last six weeks it has been reconfirmed to me that real people want products and not process. I was given reasons upon reasons why the Anti-Coronavirus relief royalty distribution undertaken by COSON could not be done. I was told to ignore the intense suffering of members of COSON across Nigeria until after the lockdown because the banks were not fully working and that the distribution could not take place. I was told to be a hostage to process even if some COSON members ended up dying of starvation. I said “No!”

One afternoon, during the lockdown, without notice, I arrived at the home of a senior official of the bank that eventually helped us set up the distribution portal through which we have been able to send money to thousands of COSON members across the country to cushion the COVID 19 hardship. The bank official was surprised and nearly refused to come to the gate to see me. I made it clear to him that many of my members were going through hell and that I would not leave the gate of his residence until he came down to attend to me. He eventually came down. I explained the situation to him and persuaded him to join me in the car and together we drove to a branch of his bank that was not attending to the public but at which we obtained the paperwork without which we could not have set up the platform.

I hope that one day I will be able to tell the full story of the many obstacles and resistance I encountered on the way to making COSON members receive the “half bread” that may have helped many manage what was an unmanageable situation. I have been informed that a few other institutions have been inspired by what has happened at COSON and have adopted the COSON model.

My understanding of leadership is the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of the people you lead. Everything else is a scam. Leadership is not about the titles you adorn. It is not about the car you drive or the privileges you claim. Leadership is not a risk-free undertaking. It is about giving and not taking.

During the lockdown, I did several things that may be considered very risky or even suicidal. My take is that if you call yourself a leader and you are not willing to sacrifice yourself for the people you say you lead, then you are a joke. The job of a leader is to do good to as many people as possible. He always looks for a way to make the impossible possible and turn a No into a Yes.

I thank the members of the COSON Board who have the power and could easily have banged the door on my ‘crazy’ ideas. I thank Sir Shina Peters, Honourable John Udegbunam, Bright Chimezie, Maureen Ejezie, Evangelist Olusegun Omoyayi, Eng. Sharon Esco Wilson, Richard Cole, Uche Emeka Paul, Koffi Idowu Nuel and Kenny Saint Brown. Maybe you folks do not know it but you just redefined leadership in the Nigerian creative industry. You have made history.

During the lockdown, I spoke with hundreds of COSON members on the phone. There was the serious money problem but there was also the problem of hopes dashed, plans scuttled, projections destroyed and a future blowing in the wind. In most cases, it became my duty to lift the spirit of many a downcast family. Sometimes, we prayed together on the phone, sang together or joked together but I never left anyone without a feeling that they were lifted.

Once, with tears in my eyes, I pledged to COSON members that I will never let them down. Thank you, Father, for putting me to work. Hallowed be Thy name!


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James Soul John

THINKER. WRITER. DOER Creative writer/Content Provider/Media/Public Policy Strategist, Analyst & Moralist.

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