The following breakfast was first served in August 2015. Recent events have made me to microwave the delicacy and to re-serve it. Please enjoy…
I live on the edge just like a ball juggler. I had another exhausting week when circumstances required me to be everywhere at the same time. With endless phone calls and e-mails in between, on Monday, I had to be at the imposing Ultima Studio in Lekki to speak to the young kids battling for the top prize in the MTN Project Fame contest. It was a sharp group and I had to speak with them about copyright, collective management and the importance of these in their intended career in music. It was an exhilarating experience. I was impressed by the boldness and professionalism of Femi Ayeni and his crew at Ultima, the same crew that produces Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
Leaving Ultima with my team of Chinedu Chukwuji, Bernice Eriemeghe and May Uket, we had to go and see Tajudeen Adepetu, another incredibly creative and very hard working Nigerian. Taju is a revolutionary. Very few have impacted TV production in Nigeria like Tajudeen Adepetu who brought to our homes many TV soap operas such as Treasure, Everyday People, Saints and Sinners, Candlelight, One Love and Domino. Taju is the unseen hand behind top TV channels like Soundcity, ONTV, Spice, Trybe, etc. You would think that a guy like Taju would be satisfied with what he has done. For where?! My guy Taju is still not happy with the array of TV monitors spread out in front of his desk by which he simultaneously monitors what each of his channels is showing. He wants to add more. Restless Taju is working on more channels including some radio stations and construction is going on all over his Lekki Empire!
From Soundcity, we drove to Eko Hotel to keep a date with S.O. Alabi. Chief Samuel Olu Alabi was until recently the no-nonsense President of the Hotel & Personal Services Employers Association of Nigeria (HOPSEA) to which most of the hotels across Nigeria belong. When COSON was approved, it was on S.O. Alabi that it fell to break the age old log jam over the payment of copyright royalties for the music deployed by hotels in Nigeria. Several times, Alabi and I came close to exchanging blows as he stoutly defended the interest of the hotel industry on behalf of which he negotiated and I would not give an inch as I was convinced that the music industry in Nigeria had been exploited for too long. Today, I consider S.O. Alabi to be my cherished friend. While we stood on different sides of the divide, I could not but admire his total dedication to the cause of the people he had been elected to represent.
Done with Alabi, we had to head to Ikeja fast before the crazy ‘go slow’ out of the Island got the better of us. We thought we were smart. It did not work. We spent close to two hours in the traffic. By the time we got to the COSON office in Opebi, I was dead tired. What was I to do? Go home?
Next morning, Tuesday, was the scheduled Grand Unveiling of the events of the 2015 COSON Week. We had invited many people to COSON for the event. The unveiling was meant to be a show and all the careful planning and coordination required for any good show had to be in place. Tired or not, it was my job to produce the event. I had to run a check on all the arrangements.
By 10 pm, virtually everyone in the office had deserted me, except Abey, my young driver and Femi, my graphic designer. The venue needed to be set up overnight, the show flow needed to be developed, the scripts had to be written and the guys setting up the props overnight had to be supervised. Tired or not, it became clear that if the Unveiling was to go ahead successfully the next morning, there was no way I would go home. Hunger set in but try as he could, Abey could not find food anywhere.
About 2.00 am I could no longer stop myself from dozing. The keyboard of my laptop was now looking blurred. I had to sleep. There was no bed, no couch, no pillow, no mart, no ‘cover cloth’, nothing. I had to crash on the bare floor in the COSON Board room. After about 30 minutes, it became too cold and I began to shiver. I switched off the air conditioner but that was a huge mistake. The mosquitoes in Opebi discovered that there was one mugu in the neighbourhood sleeping without any covering and they attacked me from every direction. At 3.30 am, I decided that this sleep business was a ruse. I could not close my eyes. I went back to my laptop and wrote my speech for the unveiling and developed the show flow. As dawn came, I was a wreck of a human being with pains all over me but I had to keep moving.
Anyone who saw me on Monday and Tuesday would recognize that I had not changed my clothes. Apart from replacing my jacket with some leather stuff, I was wearing the same clothes. Then, Edith, my P.A., scared like hell, ran to me to say that one of the four models who had been choreographed with specific costumes made for the unveiling did not show up and could not be reached on the phone. The guy responsible for the pyrotechnics also could not be located. It was time for quick thinking. Angie, one of the young COSON staff members had to be taken off her job and trained to be a model in fifteen minutes. I don’t know if anyone noticed that the red costume was hanging loose on Angie because it was really not made for her but she carried herself well.
I think we pulled the unveiling off in grand style. The threat of rain could not stop us, the traffic could not stop us, the COSON Front Garden was full with showbiz people and a battery of journalists and cameras from every serious TV channel in the land. With all humility, the unveiling of the COSON Week was a blast with pyrotechnics, great models and all.
Just as the unveiling was ending, I was reminded that I had to prepare the documents for a meeting holding the following morning in Abuja. I was booked on the 6.45 a.m. Aero flight to Abuja for a meeting with the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, to discuss the piracy menace in the country.
At Force Headquarters in Abuja, everybody was warm. It was a good meeting followed by several other meetings.
I know that many people would believe that it is money that drives this lifestyle. Indeed, one journalist told a friend of mine during the week that COSON is Tony Okoroji’s ‘cash cow’. I asked to meet with the journalist and as nicely as I could, explained to him that I get paid no salary by COSON and I am not in the business of taking what does not belong to me. He stared at me in bewilderment. Then, I explained to him that despite the madness in the land, I am not the only Nigerian who has not gone money crazy and that there are indeed many who are driven not by money but by what they believe in. I told him that if he tried, he would find that it is not so difficult to do and that he can indeed join the group.
Cash-cow?! At my age?! What nature of cash would make me sleep on the bare floor feasted endlessly by crazy mosquitoes?
See you next week.
– Okoroji is the chairman of COSON