By Tony Okoroji
Much of yesterday, my phone rang off the hook. I had not been appointed a minister or to any such high office. Thank God, I had not lost any close relation.
Almost everyone who called was talking about what I consider a small matter, the fact that there was a press release saying that a younger colleague of mine now bears the title of COSON Chairman.
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. I have written in Saturday Breakfast before that I verily believe that the true worth of a man is not in what he takes but in what he gives. I have always asked the Almighty to give me an opportunity to give. Anyone who has worked with me will tell you that I give my all to every assignment I undertake.
If I had become a janitor or a security man, I would have dedicated myself as much as I have dedicated myself to leading COSON.
Yesterday, I realised that there are many who are worried that I have been kicked out of the leadership of COSON and that COSON will go into a tailspin like PMAN, our sister organisation of which I used to be president. No! Let me state that I am still a member of the COSON Board and a key decision maker in COSON. Indeed, about six months ago I was unanimously returned to the board by members of COSON at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting. I have a couple of years left on my term.
With all modesty, I have done everything within the power of a human being to make COSON an exemplary organisation within the continent and a model for the Nigerian creative industry. I believe that a large majority of COSON members know that I have spared myself no pain or inconvenience to serve them. The results are there for everyone, friend or foe, to see. My interaction with a large majority of COSON members suggests to me that they do not think I have let them down. I cherish their trust and will never let them down.
Anyone expecting a leadership fight at COSON should go and watch another game. Anyone ready to pop champagne because he thinks that Tony Okoroji is gone should also return his champagne to the fridge. I intend to continue to deploy the tremendous experience that I have acquired and the knowledge and skills that the Almighty has given me to continue to stand up for the Nigerian creative family and our nation. By Jove, I do not need a title to do that.
In COSON, we have lit a fire and given hope to many across our nation who were hopeless. The warmth of the fire we have lit can be felt beyond Nigeria’s creative community. I believe that at COSON, we have proved that things can work in Nigeria. I will not join anyone or be tempted by anyone to demolish this wonderful edifice that we have built. We will bequeath a much bigger COSON to our children.
A few years after I took a little known PMAN and made it a major national institution, everybody wanted to be PMAN President. The battle has been so fierce that at a point, four persons adorned the title of PMAN President at the same time! I cannot see that the title in anyway changed who they are nor did the title change the organization they purported to lead. The hood, they say, does not make a monk. A title does not make a leader.
I have spent enough time in leadership to understand the nature of man. The day we gathered the creme of Nigeria to commission the magnificent COSON House in Ikeja without borrowing one Naira from anyone, I very well knew what would happen after. With what I have seen, I am determined that COSON will not be a repeat of the PMAN story. It will take a lot of patience and wisdom but I trust the good Lord to give us the patience and wisdom to make COSON a continuing Nigerian success story.
Yesterday, in between phone calls, I also addressed the staff of COSON on speaker phone and asked them to go about their duties with confidence and pride and even work harder now for the organization than they had done before. They will remain part of my family forever. It is in the same vain that I plead with my friends and supporters wherever they may be to continue to give maximum support to COSON which to me is like a child.
A few weeks ago, I had written in this column that as chairman, I did not have an office at COSON House, not one room, not one cubicle, not one desk. I consciously made that decision. Two days ago, I had nothing to pack.
I however have an office and a desk at TOPS, my rented personal office which accidentally is not that far from COSON House and from which we have done anything and everything to promote the COSON brand with practically no income. It is funny but at TOPS, I am called Chairman. So, my friends who may be big on titles and worry that I have lost one need not worry. I am still Chairman and by the grace of the Almighty, I am confident that in the days to come you will hear from us at TOPS.