In the building of the copyright system in Nigeria, I have carried placards many times and led very risky demonstrations many-many times in which I could have been shot by an “unknown soldier”. I am seen in court almost every day. Indeed, I have been to court more times than many litigation lawyers and witnessed against top corporations, governments and individuals time and time again. I have gone many-many days without sleep, travelled lonely roads at dangerous hours, written opinion articles, delivered lectures, organized myriad conferences, seminars and workshops, all with a smile. It is not by my power.
I helped to construct PMAN and I have superintended over the building of an outstanding Nigerian institution called COSON which many said could never see the light of day. When the COSON House was commissioned over three years ago, a lot of people were surprised that there was not one Naira of government money in the magnificent building, no donor dollar from anywhere, no bank loan and no debt of any type. The building continues to stand tall and to sparkle. I tell you that it is not by my power.
I also worked with others to construct the Nigerian Copyright Commission which like several badly led Nigerian institutions, has made the pursuit of Tony Okoroji its key objective. I helped in writing the law setting up the institution and with the unassailable Prof Egerton Uvieghara and Bayo Aiyegbusi, an unforgettable public servant, drafted the first amendment to the law.
For ten years, not one of the highly trained staff of COSON received his or her salary one day late. No COSON member entitled to royalties was ever denied money due to him. Not until some meddlesome interlopers went to court behind our backs in a typical example of the famous Nigerian ‘bad belle’, to shut down the bank accounts of COSON. It might surprise many to know that no COSON member has ever paid any registration fee, monthly dues or subscription of any type yet every COSON member is entitled to some income every year. Believe me, that it is not by my power.
My dedication to the copyright cause has never been because of a title or because of personal wealth. I do not live in a house provided by COSON. In fact, I live in exactly the same house I lived in before COSON was born. Every member of staff of COSON goes to a hospital paid for by the organization. However, as Chairman, COSON does not even buy Panadol for me or for any member of my family. I do not go on a vacation on the bill of COSON. I have written in Saturday Breakfast several times that I verily believe that the true worth of a man is not in what he takes but in what he gives. My dedication to the copyright cause is a passion and my contribution to nation building.
Over and over again, I have been counted out by men who do not understand the concept of giving and of sacrifice. They have tried every which way to count me out. Each time they think they have finally succeeded, something new happens. They are confused and cannot understand why the good Lord has refused to count me out. I work for Him.
I have repeatedly emphasized that I drive on a full tank of faith. I serve a living God. The work I do is to the glory of the Almighty. The power I use is not mine but His.
You might face trials upon trials but like Job, you will prevail. I advise that you do not worship men or money. Worship the Almighty and take care of the needs of His children. Do not fret about how you will survive. You will.
Please do not take credit for that which the Almighty does through you. It is not by your power. All glory and honour belong to Him. Drive on a full tank of faith with your tires pumped with love and do not listen to anyone who tells you that your dreams are impossible. The word, impossible, belongs to the devil.
See you next week.
– Okoroji is the chairman of COSON