Chief Tony Okoroji has berated the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN, for disparaging Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, over the recently held Creative Industry Summit in Lagos.
Okoroji, a former President of PMAN and the Chairman of Copyright Society of Nigeria, said he was perplexed at the attempts of some of his colleagues to embarrass the minister and discredit the Summit.
Okoroji made this known in Abuja on Thursday night in a statement.
“I am 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 fora across the world.
“I am therefore embarrassed that someone would in the name of PMAN accuse the minister of ‘plagiarising’ an idea for a conference.”
Okoroji said that it was wrong for PMAN to claim copyright over a proposal it allegedly submitted to the minister.
“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 conference.
“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.
“It is also wrong to seek to blackmail and terrorise 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.”
Okoroji said like many others that thronged the summit held from July 17-18, at Eko Hotel, Lagos, he was not sent a special invitation.
“I went to 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 online like me and no one who showed up was turned back.
“Having organised similar events in the past, I could not but appreciate the effort made to put together such a successful event.”
Okoroji commended “Think Tank Media”, the organisers of the summit and Mr. Mohammed for sitting through every minute of the two-day summit engaging the stakeholders to understand their challenges.
He said the summit attended by Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, who represented Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, demonstrated government’s seriousness to reposition the industry.
“In my many years of 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 Lai Mohammed.
“The minister sat for nine unbroken hours for two consecutive days discussing the problems of musicians, film makers, content producers, and trying to find ways to address the problems.”
Okoroji said the summit was already yielding fruits and commended the government for not sweeping the reports and recommendations there from under the carpet.
“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 pauperised 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.”
He admonished officials of PMAN to use the platform to promote music and its principles, not chasing after anyone with whom they have perceived disagreements.