On No Music Day, copyright society cautions against division in creative industry
In September 2009, Nigerian artistes of different shades embarked on a weeklong hunger strike. The action, which was a result of the frustration caused by the devastating level of intellectual property theft in the country, was a prelude to what has become today, No Music Day in Nigeria.
Specifically, on September 1, practitioners in the Nigerian music industry asked all the 400 licensed broadcast stations in the country not to play their music for a significant period of the day as a way to show their solidarity.
On Sunday, September 1, 2019, Chief Tony Okoroji, chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the copyright collective management organisation for musical works and sound recordings, who spearheaded the 2009 campaign, called on members across the country, stakeholders in the music industry and creative people to bond together and eschew every attempt to foist divisions in the Nigerian creative industry.
“As our nation desperately searches for direction in the attempt to exorcise the evil tendencies threatening to drown our people in despair, the unique voices of Nigeria’s creative talents must be heard and our God-given skills deployed to bring about a soothing balm to the millions of our citizens, who are terrified by the unrestrained violence, killings, abductions, kidnappings, brazen criminal conduct and the complete disregard for the sanctity of human lives, the rule of law and decent conduct witnessed in our environment today,” Okoroji said.
As the nation marks the10th anniversary of the yearly No Music Day, Okoroji said, “creative people in Nigeria cannot afford to keep quiet at this time. We cannot just surrender the destiny of our nation to our politicians who have boldly advertised their shortcomings. Our musicians, writers, actors, broadcasters and others within our creative space must come out from wherever we are hiding to save the Nigerian nation from being dismembered with the attendant unimaginable cost. Whether we want to accept it or we want to hide from it, the unity of our nation is presently seriously threatened. We must confront the deep religious, tribal and sectional distrust resulting in continuous bloodletting the kind of which we have never previously witnessed.
“We must today rediscover that voice to save the soul of our nation,” he said.Okoroji called on organisations and associations within the creative community to be smart and resist the ‘divide and rule’ tactics of the adversaries of the creative community, which are being tactfully deployed to weaken the community’s ability to forcefully demand the respect of stakeholders’ rights and to challenge the brazen and crude exploitation of the intellectual property of creative people in Nigeria.
He cautioned practitioners in the country to watch out for ‘Do Gooders’ who may be used to infiltrate their ranks and create instability within their structures, which instability will then become the pretext to compulsorily acquire the use of the intellectual property of their members without any licence or authorisation at the detriment of the constitutional rights of such members and their rights to earn a living from the exploitation of their intellectual property.Okoroji, who served on the committee that drafted the copyright, which set up the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), twice served on its board.