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I AM VERY ANGRY AT THE ATTEMPT TO DISCREDIT THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY SUMMIT

On the 17th and 18th of July. I attended the Creative Industry Summit held at the Expo Hall of Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos. No one sent me a special invitation to the summit. I have always been interested in any serious conversation that can bring progress to the Nigerian creative sector. I therefore went to www.creativenigeria.org, the heavily advertised website of the summit, to register, cancelled previous engagements and attended the summit on both days and I was happy I did.
To the best of my knowledge, most of the stakeholders who thronged the venue on both days of the summit registered on line like me and no one who showed up was turned back. I was in no way involved in the organization of the summit neither was I listed as a speaker. I enjoyed listening to the recommendations made by speaker after speaker to addressing the nation’s challenges in developing a truly vibrant creative sector. Having organized similar events in the past, I could not but appreciate the effort made to put together such a successful event. At the end, I sought out Ms Taiwo Olukunle of Think Tank Media whom I was told developed the idea for the summit and executed it. I was meeting Ms Olukunle for the first time and I commended her for what I thought was a very professional job.
Apart from the Honourable Minister of Information & Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who sat through every minute of the two-day summit and vigorously engaged the stakeholders to understand their challenges, the summit was also attended by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun who represented the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. Also present was the Minister of State for Industry, Trade & Investment, Mrs Aisha Abubakar.
In my many years of actively fighting endless wars on behalf of the creative industry, I do not believe that I have ever witnessed such top level of engagement with the Nigerian creative community by any government. I was at the summit when the hundreds of creative industry stakeholders sensing a shift in our engagement with the Nigerian government gave a standing ovation to Minister Lai Mohammed who sat for nine unbroken hours for two consecutive days discussing the problems of musicians, film makers, content producers, etc and trying to find ways to address the problems.
One of the immediate gains of the summit is the rapid-fire effort at the highest level to finally address the piracy scourge which has tormented creative Nigerians and pauperized many investors in the industry for years. I am involved in that process and bear witness to the incredible sacrifice Lai Mohammed has made to ensure that piracy is dealt a deadly blow in Nigeria. For those who may want to know, I have travelled to Abuja several times on this mission. The government has not given me one kobo for travel, hotel, meals or any allowance of any type. The same applies to several others working with me to make a difference. In my time, I have repeatedly made it clear that no one in Nigeria has enough money to buy my conscience.
I am therefore shocked by the efforts being made by some of my colleagues and friends in the name of PMAN to discredit the historic Creative Industry Summit and to drag the Minister’s name into the mud. I have written extensively on Intellectual Property and have lectured on the subject in respected international forums across the world. I am therefore embarrassed that someone would in the name of PMAN accuse the minister of ‘plagiarizing’ an idea for a conference!
One of the basic tenets of copyright is the maxim: there is no copyright in ideas. Proposing an idea for a conference does not mean that other people cannot propose ideas for similar conferences. Less than two years ago at the same Expo Hall of Eko Hotel, I organized the Nigerian Digital Music Summit that brought distinguished speakers from across the world to Nigeria. I look forward to a lot more conferences on the creative industry so that we can tap into the ideas of as many people as possible for the development of our nation.
Those who know me well will vouch that I have never been afraid of a fight when the rights of my colleagues have been infringed. I have fought pirates, governments, government officials, banks, the hotel industry, the broadcast industry, the telecoms industry, etc. In each case, three principles have guided my decision to fight: that the law supports the fight, that the facts are in tandem with the law and that the ultimate interest of many will be served by such a fight.
For many years, I worked tirelessly with some of my colleagues to make PMAN a very respected organization in Nigeria. The respect gained by PMAN was based on the principles we promoted and the language we used to promote those principles. We never sought to use the platform of PMAN to chase after anyone with whom we have personal disagreements, real or perceived. We never deployed foul language.
As a past President of PMAN and an elder in Nigeria’s creative industry, I completely disagree with the attempt to use the platform of PMAN to contrive a dispute with the Minister of Information & Culture and to seek to blackmail and terrorize him using language that is very unbecoming of our once great association. There is a lot of work to do and plenty to keep every willing person busy. Let us join hands and do the work for the good of the Nigerian nation and the well-being of our children.
Best wishes to everyone.
CHIEF TONY OKOROJI

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