Thank You Father For Putting Me To Work

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This past Wednesday, we celebrated the 70th birthday of one of my exceedingly wonderful colleagues, the great drummer boy, Richard Cole. It was a show that I will never forget. I very nearly missed the event because of serious health challenges but the good Lord got me to COSON House and took charge. Everything was beautiful.

Very few would believe that just one hour before I showed up at the Richard Cole birthday bash where I was Master of Ceremonies and Chief Coordinator, I was under the intensive care of Dr Moses Jatto who jabbed me with 6 heavy injections. I begged Dr Jatto to let me go as I could not miss the big celebration of Richard Cole, my brother, my friend and a pillar of strength in the work we do.

I am an unbelievably lucky guy and I thank the Almighty for the incredible protection he has given me in many trying circumstances and under conditions that would have broken many men. For a guy who goes to church only once in a while, it is in every way a miracle!

Believe me, I have been through remarkable pain. I have also repeatedly seen the treachery and betrayal of men and how people rationalize the nonsense they do. If you are not careful, you will tend to believe that there is no good man left in the world and there is no reason to do good to anyone.

Then you have the experience I have had with the likes of Richard Cole and you realize how wrong you are.

In many creative industry organizations in Africa, people come together to just squabble and squabble without producing any enduring results. I long concluded that if we were to build a copyright organization that will be exemplary and stand the test of time, the driving force would be execution.

I do not consider my position as Chairman of COSON to be to sit and beautify a chair or to wear ‘agbada’ at big occasions and make meaningless speeches. I am the team leader. My job is to make sure that work is steadily going on in the right direction and we are executing to the benefit of our members. I am the general in front of the army and not behind. I do not ask others to work while I drink pepper soup. If need be, I dirty my hands and get the work done. I go to court almost every other day to defend the interest of the members of COSON.

I have seen people sit in the boardroom of the beautiful COSON House with the cool air conditioner blowing them from above and a choice of tea, coffee or some other drink available to them and they beat their chests at what COSON has achieved and at the same time, complain about me. They will tell you that they don’t like the style that led to the achievement of the success they celebrate. You then ask yourself, “what do they really want: process or product, style or success?”

Last year, it was reconfirmed to me that real people want product and not process. I was given reasons upon reasons why the Anti-Coronavirus relief royalty distribution undertaken by COSON could not be done. I was told to ignore the intense suffering of members of COSON across Nigeria until after the lockdown because the banks were not fully working and that the distribution could not take place. I was told to be a hostage to process even if some COSON members ended up dying of starvation. I said “No!”

One afternoon, during the lockdown, without notice, I arrived at the home of an official of our bank that eventually helped set up the distribution portal through which we were able to send money to thousands of COSON members across the country to cushion the COVID 19 hardship. The bank official was surprised and nearly refused to come to the gate to see me. I spoke to him on the phone and made it clear that many of my members were going through hell and that I would not leave the gate of his residence until he came down to attend to me. He eventually came down. I explained the situation to him and persuaded him to join me in the car and together we drove to a branch of his bank that was not attending to the public but at which we obtained the paperwork without which we could not have set up the platform.

I hope that one day I will be able to tell the full story of the many obstacles and resistance I encountered on the way to making COSON members receive the “half bread” that may have helped many manage what was an unmanageable situation. I have been informed that a few other institutions were inspired by what happened at COSON and adopted the COSON model.

My understanding of leadership is the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of people. Everything else is a scam. Leadership is not about the titles you adorn. It is not about the car you drive or the privileges you claim. Leadership is not a risk-free undertaking. It is about giving and not taking.

During the lockdown, I did several things that may be considered very risky or even suicidal. My take is that if you call yourself a leader and you are not willing to sacrifice yourself for the people you say you lead, then you are a joke. The job of a leader is to do good to as many people as possible. A leader always looks for a way to make the impossible possible and turn a No into a Yes.

I thank the members of the COSON Board and management who made the Richard Cole celebration possible. They have the power and could easily have banged the door on my ‘crazy’ ideas. I thank them for their unflinching trust. I thank Kenny Saint Brown, Engr Sharon Eco Wilson, Evang. Olusegun Omoyayi, Hon. John Udegbunam, Bright Chimezie, Maureen Ejezie,, Uche Emeka Paul, Koffi Idowu Nuel and our power charged General Manager, the newly minted Mrs. Bernice Eriemeghe – Ashibuogwu.

During last year’s lockdown, I spoke with hundreds of COSON members on the phone. There was the serious money problem but there was also the problem of hopes dashed, plans scuttled, projections destroyed and a future blowing in the wind caused the unprecedented pandemic. In most cases, it became my duty to lift the spirit of many a downcast family. Sometimes, we prayed together on the phone, sang together or joked together but I never left anyone without a feeling that they were lifted.

Once, with tears in my eyes, I pledged to COSON members that I will never let them down. Thank you, Father, for putting me to work. Hallowed be Thy name!

See you next week.

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