I hate it when my COSON phone rings. Yes, I have a COSON phone, an around 2k 'palasa' whose shrill sound can wake the dead. The phone was given to me because as a member of a key committee of the Board, the management needs to track me 24/7, so I am always on stand-by.
I have been strategizing on how to tell them to change the phone since, but for where? The thought of saying that to Bernice, COSON's Head of Finance/Admin is enough to keep me quiet and continue to manage the ‘pure water’ phone, even if everyone on the other end continues to say they don't hear me, and then I put it on speaker. My hope is that one day, the GM will get tired of not hearing me and change the phone himself.
Now you have laughed, abi? Laugh all you can. That is what we go through as Directors at Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the million-dollar-declaring Collective Management Organization (CMO) that everybody is talking about. Can you imagine?
That's why I laugh when I read stories about how COSON Directors are building houses everywhere and spending COSON money nyafun-nyafun. It's all so hilarious.
You would have expected COSON to give me at least one android Tekno as an official phone. No be so? But no! That is the kind of organization we run. Very stringent! There are so many protocols to ensure transparency and accountability. You cannot imagine how many people have to sign and counter-sign a voucher before you are refunded N5,000 of the N10,000 you spent doing COSON work. At COSON, every kobo must be counted and accounted for. I hear that some people even think that COSON is spending government money. Which government? Government has never given one penny to COSON. Ask anywhere.
So where was I? Yes, I said I hate my COSON phone ringing. It isn't just because of the shrill sound of the phone, it is also because of the nature of the job: COSON is in a hurry and you can be summoned at any time and given one very tough assignment and you have to do it. Don’t blame me if the stubborn part of me sometimes revolts. These people very well know that they don’t pay me a salary. Shouldn’t I have some time to earn a living?’ I thought I knew the COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji before I became a Director of COSON. Na lie, I did not know him. He is a perfectionist and demands perfection from everybody. He never stops working and thinks that everybody must be a workaholic like him. How I come enter this kind long thing?
I remember being called to pursue the collection of outstanding music copyright royalties at LTV8 (Lagos Television). LTV was like a home to me, if you know what I mean: I was always welcome. There was once that without a couple of hours at Feminar, the joint inside the LTV compound, my day was not done. From the gate o, to the receptionists, presenters/producers, Ogas dem, I was always given a warm welcome at LTV8.
Now it was this same LTV8 that I had to go to and chase the Permanent Secretary(PM) for music royalties. And guess who that PM was, the very admirable Lekan Ogunbanwo! There's more to this story o. The last time I saw Mr Ogunbanwo before the royalties issue, I had gone to appeal to him to grant free venue for a widows event that I was involved in, and he graciously did. So how thicker can this plot get?
Anyways I was sent on an errand, and errand I must go and deliver. First day I went, I was indeed able to look at him in the eyes after some wait and diplomatically ask "where is our money?" He calmly told me to come back the next week. Next week came and I was there but guess what, I was kept waiting for a long time at the reception downstairs, for the first time in my history with LTV. I couldn't believe it. Another one of my treasured goodwill bites the dust, ghen ghen!!
At COSON, there are no half measures. Nothing that can be done today must be postponed till tomorrow. The Chairman insists that the overriding interest at all times must be that of all the members and there must be no secrets in COSON. Everything must be placed on the table and discussed by everyone and known by everyone. Loong thing! So there are countless meetings. Everyone must know where every naira is coming from and where it is going to. I know how long it has taken for us to get something like COSON established and why the organization must be protected but it does become too much.
That's what working as a Director in COSON entails: your long-term built relationships and goodwill suffer, while trying to continuously build a million-dollar organization in which you have to argue over every kobo. But I hear that that's how strong long-lasting conglomerates are built: arguing over every kobo!
At COSON, rules are rules and there are no friends and no foes. I have had to sit at the opposite side of the table and argue vigorously with music/media greats like Baba 'Ke-ke' Kenny Ogungbe of Ray Power, Mr Larry Izamoje who owns Brila FM, Guy Murray Bruce of Silverbird, Senator Mike Ajeigbo who owns Minaj, Engineer Amin Moussali who owns Cool FM and Wazobia FM, Sony Irabor of Inspiration FM. I could give you a looong never-ending list of how I practically grew up in the hands of some of these people!! But when the matter involves COSON, you throw away your personal relationships out of the window.
But don't let me fool you with this image of a long-suffering human being in the service of Naija music homo-sapiens, Naaa. I love it! I love the fact that we have made history. At COSON, we have built the kind of professional organization that people said was impossible in Nigeria. I love to walk into the smart COSON office and see all those graduates working for Nigerian artistes. Because of COSON, everyone is now afraid of trampling on the rights of Nigerian artistes. I love the feeling of making a difference. I love that my opinion counts. I love looking at the faces of those old artistes/society members from the hinterlands, each time we have a COSON AGM and copyright royalties are being paid to thousands of artistes, I ask: Is this Nigeria?
Seeing how COSON works, I now know why PMAN has continued to fail. Boy, I love solving the problems of those old artistes. And I oh-so-love it when they pray for me. I like the feeling that all their prayers for me is in a bank in heaven, waiting for the day I'll need it. *wink*.