Every seat in the Amaechi Hall of Rockview Hotel Owerri was occupied and many were left standing as the Stakeholders’ Forum of the wave making Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) took off in grand style on Tuesday, February 16, 2016. The major players in the music industry from every state in the South-East and South-South stormed the venue. They came in cars and buses from Imo, Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, etc.
Present at the historic Forum was Imo State Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha and several of his Commissioners amongst who were the Commissioner for Information, Youth & Sports, Mr. Chidi Ibe and Commissioner for Internal Resources and Pension Affairs, Dr Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe.
Among the legends of the music industry who were live in Owerri for the forum were the likes of Rub-a-Dub Master, Ras Kimono; Zigima star, Bright Chimezie; Highlife icon, Paulson Kalu; Guitarist extra-ordinaire and Leader of the Oriental Brothers International, Dan Satch Opara; Highlife Star, Ugo Stevenson and the great Iroko of music across the east, Sir Morocco Maduka.
On the investment side of the industry were the biggest boys of Nigeria’s entertainment business such as Ideh Romanus Okonkwo, owner of Rogers All Stars, famous for such monumental hits as Prince Nico Mbarga’s Sweet Mother, Ikenga Super Stars, Bright Chimezie’s African Style and many more as well as music and movie distribution mogul, Chief Osita Okeke, better known as Ossy Affason. Present were many members of Music Label Owners and Recording Industries Association of Nigeria (MORAN) led by their National President, Mr. Calistus Okeke. Several broadcast stations and hotels across the South East and South-South sent representatives to the forum. Also represented was the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission, Mr. Afam Ezekude.
While welcoming participants to the forum, celebrated former President of PMAN and Chairman of the COSON Board, Chief Tony Okoroji thanked the government of Imo State for the warm hospitality accorded the COSON leadership. Chief Okoroji said that the forum had been organized so that participants in the music industry from the South-East and South-South of Nigeria can have an open discussion on steps to realign the music industry in the digital environment so as to boost income, create employment and contribute meaningfully to national GDP at a time of dwindling revenue from oil. He told the participants that as the demand for traditional music carriers like music cassettes and CDs goes down, collective management of copyright will play a more significant role in ensuring that the music business continues to be profitable. He called for all hands to be on deck to give full effect to the COSON mantra, “Let the music pay!”
Welcoming the participants to Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha praised Nigerian musicians for the impact they are having around the world. He singled out the music industry as one of the potential contributors to national wealth as revenue from oil continues to fall.
Governor Okorocha underlined the support of Imo State for COSON by pledging that his government would not only help in the fight against copyright infringement in the state but would immediately provide land for COSON to build a befitting headquarters in the state because according to him, Imo state has everything necessary for the success of the Nigerian entertainment industry. The governor also pledged close co-operation with COSON in the organization of important entertainment events in Imo State.
Delivering the keynote address titled “Harnessing the Human Resources Component of our Internal Resources: A Challenge for Copyright Protection”, the Imo State Commissioner for Internal Resources and Pension Affairs, Dr. Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe said that the administration in the state is prepared to collaborate with COSON to find ways and means of closing the gap in the protection of the exclusive rights of its members and ownership of intellectual property and works of talent in the state and increase the members’ personal income profile.
According to Dr. Ajumbe, “It is in the best interest of the state government and all relevant authorities to advance the protection of copyright to create a safe market for stakeholders to get maximum benefit from their works”.
After significant deliberations, the forum resolved that unrelenting legal action be taken to ensure that all recalcitrant organizations who deploy music in their businesses in Nigeria without any copyright licence, including broadcasting stations, hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, transport companies, product promoters, etc. are taught a lesson and forced to obtain music copyright licenses from COSON and pay necessary royalties to ensure that the distributable income to COSON stakeholders is substantially increased.
It was also resolved that every necessary action be taken to ensure that the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari gives necessary directives without further delay for the Private Copy Levy Scheme to take off so that Nigeria can unshackle its music, movies and literary industries and start the process of providing the right environment for the creation of investments, jobs and growth in the economy.
Speaking on the forum, COSON General Manager, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji said, “The COSON Stakeholders’ Forum in Owerri was a watershed event and a huge success. The participation was overwhelming. The arrangements were excellent. At the end, everybody was happy. I am 100% satisfied”.
Among the members of the COSON Board present at the big forum in Owerri, were Mr. Joel Ajayi, Alhaji Sikiru Agboola, Hon John Ewelukwa Udegbunam, and Mrs. Azeezat Allen.