Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria COSON, Chief Tony Okoroji, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to spark an intellectual property revolution in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy without delay. A very passionate Okoroji made this call at a Town Hall Meeting organised by BBC Media Action in Abuja recently.
At the event held at Protea Hotel, Asokoro, Chief Okoroji said that in a world which is rapidly being swept over by the digital economy and the digital revolution, the Nigerian nation will hugely regret it if it does not quickly tool itself with the full understanding of the concept of intellectual property and the economic necessity to defend intellectual property rights.
According to Okoroji, “the days when oil ruled the world may have gone for good. We may have seen the last of the era of the 100 dollar a barrel of crude oil. Our crude oil of the future may have to be drilled from the ingenuity of young Nigerians. That ingenuity can be seen in how wide our music, movies, literature, fashion, programming and similar products of the creative endeavor are spreading across the world. This is clearly an area in which Nigeria has comparative advantage. Unfortunately, both at home and abroad, these creative products are being stolen with impunity without our nation seeming to care much.”
Chief Okoroji who was joined on the panel which discussed Piracy in the Creative industry by Mr. Aderemi Adewusi, Head of Public Affairs at the Nigerian Copyright Commission said that the important investments required to actualize the hundreds of thousands of potential jobs which the Nigerian creative sector can generate and the billions of naira in revenue accruable to the nation will not take place except investors are guaranteed that their investments will be protected.
Chief Tony Okoroji, a former President of PMAN and author of Copyright and the New Millionaires said that President Buhari who has a Vice President in Prof Osinbajo with the intellect to fully grasp the issues, owes it to the Nigerian nation to kick start an intellectual property revolution in Nigeria that assures our citizens that if your mind can create something of value, the country will protect you to enjoy the fruits of your labour. In his words, “Nigeria must end the ‘monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’ environment that retards growth and development so as to release the latent creative ingenuity of our people and attract the investments to fully exploit this ingenuity.”
Okoroji who is perhaps the best known intellectual property activist across Africa, said that his experience with COSON should show everyone that change can indeed happen in Nigeria and that Nigeria is not necessarily a lawless nation. According to him, COSON has had to go to court about fifty times to ensure that the users of music in Nigeria begin to appreciate the fact that music is someone’s property which cannot be deployed in a business or public setting without appropriate permission. He called on creative people in Nigeria to stand up, take responsibility and establish strong lobbies which are required in every democracy to positively shape policies.
The Town Hall Meeting was attended by authors, musicians, actors, directors, producers, photographers and many people from the creative industry across the nation who asked Chief Okoroji and Mr. Adewusi countless questions.