It is a simple fact that no book launch in the history of Nigeria has been held in the shape and form of the big launch of Chief Tony Okoroji’s latest book, ‘On the Road to Change’. Before the show, it was advertised that the event which held on Sunday, May 24, at the Eko Hotel & Suites in Victoria Island would be a five star event and a five star event it was. Like never before, the walkway to the Iris Hall of the posh Eko Hotel had been exquisitely laid out wall-to-wall with red carpet, decorated with tingling chandeliers and themed in mood lights and special flowers with soft music in the background. The ambience was clearly in a class of its own. It was here that guests to the show were received by the hot beauties adorned as princesses in enchanting red dresses and royal hairdos to match. The guests were then treated to sweet cocktails as flash bulbs exploded left, right, center and everywhere.
The writer and actor, Femi Branch, who anchored the show was silky smooth as he introduced the star guests. Okoroji’s big draw was evident as many defied the debilitating fuel shortage across the country and made their way to Eko Hotel where they filled the Iris Hall to the brim.
The event started with the songbird, Yinka Davis, thrilling the audience with a special rendition of the Nigerian national anthem. The nightingale soared and hit notes that no one else who had attempted to sing the national anthem would have tried. As Yinka Davis sang, everyone in the audience had goose pimples. And when she effortlessly laid to rest the last note, there was a thunderous ovation. If anyone had any doubt that Yinka Davis is a world class singer, such doubt was buried at the launch of Okoroji’s “On the Road to Change”. Femi Branch followed by saying the prayers of the day, ‘O God of Creation’, the second stanza of the Nigerian national anthem. The event had a tinge of a classy political convention. There was a strong delegation from the Yoruba Council of Elders, Arewa Leaders of Thought, Edo State and Imo State. Engr. Muritala Salawu Audu and Prince Adejuwon Adeleye , BOT members of Buhari Youth Organization were there. The Nupe King in Lagos, Dogo Jubril was there too. Also present at the occasion chaired by the oldest living General of the Nigerian military, General Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, who was Governor of the former Western Region of Nigeria, were the likes of PDP Governorship Candidate for Lagos State in the recent election, Mr. Jimmy Agbaje; PDP big wig, Dr. Austin Izagbo; Hon Dayo Bush of the APC who was at the occasion with several APC top shots like Dr Yomi Finnih. There was Olorogun (Dr) Sonny Kuku; CTL Chairman, Chief Uzoh Udemba; Prof. Duro Oni, Deputy VC, UNILAG; Prof Egerton Uvieghara, former chairman, NCC; celebrated pharmacist, Dr John Bull Nwaiwu, etc.
In the address of the Chairman of the occasion, Gen Robert Adeyinka Adebayo read at the occasion, he said ‘I congratulate the author of this book, Chief Tony Okoroji, who I am told is a man of tremendous integrity and exceptional intellect. That he could read the signs of the times and conclude accurately the outcome of the last general elections speaks volumes for him. I enjoin the incoming administration to take cognizance of his analytical abilities and put it to good use for the benefit of the nation’.
Mr. Victor Nwokocha, social critic and Editor-in-Chief of Thespian magazine did a very deep review of the book which received a big applause from the audience. According to Nwokocha, “The author’s trademark narrative fluidity, his use of local nuances which enhance communication to his primary audience, his application of humour to make us amenable to serious topics, his deeply critical approach to analysing the issues in focus, and his no-nonsense reprehension of the dramatis personae for their roles in deepening our national malady, all combine to give the book a collective appeal that transcends cognitive and literary barriers”. Several people came up on stage to pour encomiums on Okoroji, including a representative of Prince Amen Edore Oyakhire, former Military Governor Taraba & Oyo States; APC’s Hon. Dayo Bush and Mrs. Lucy Ajayi; AMP President, Zik Zulu Okafor and PDP’s Mr. Jimmy Agbaje and Dr. Austin Izagbo who flagged off the book launch. One of the very well received speeches was that by the author’s elder brother, Mr. Victor Okoroji, who lives in New York. Those who expected some magic as has become the culture at every event produced by the master showman, Chief Tony Okoroji, were not disappointed. Suddenly, the lights dimmed. A ‘voice in the wilderness’ introduced a life size version of the book which arrived the stage majestically as an auto controlled package under smoke, lights and sounds. When the package was unveiled, it contained mint-fresh copies of ‘On the Road to Change”.
Backed by the Energy Band, the mystical one, Majek Fashek exploded on stage. Practically everyone was now standing and digging it as the book launch became a music, fashion, literary and political carnival. Fashek left the audience with words that might turn out to be immortal: “Nigerians do not need umbrellas. Neither do we need brooms. All we need is righteousness”. Among those who performed at the unforgettable event were the outrageously beautiful singer, Stella D’lyte and Queen of Love, Azeezat. Comedian MC Smart nearly brought down the roof with his hilarious jokes.
Before the audience stepped up one floor to the delicious finger foods provided at the launch, Chief Tony Okoroji thanked everyone in the audience for braving the fuel shortage in the country to come out and honour him. He said that he was humbled by the support he had received. He paid particular tribute to his friends, Mr. Patrick Doyle and Mrs. Lucy Ajayi whom he said made the event the huge success that it was. He also called up his P.A. Miss Edith Uzosike, to the stage for recognition. The audience was good. The sound was excellent, the lighting was amazing. The entertainment was first class. The Big Launch of Chief Tony Okoroji’s ‘On the Road to Change’ may have come and gone, but the memories will linger for a long time.