The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Saturday visited the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) House in Lagos, during which he was honoured for his dedication to the campaign for the rights of creative people in the country. At an elaborate ceremony that featured a red carpet reception, plenty of music and documentary videos, the Minister was presented with the ”Copyright Medal of Honour” and his name entered in the ”COSON Roll of Honour” after the reading of his citation. COSON Chairman Tony Okoroji, who made the presentation that rounded off the hours long ceremony, described the Minister as a ”unassailable and fearless public servant”, and thanked him for being the first Minister to visit the imposing green-and-white COSON House since it was commissioned.
The Minister, who said he was very proud of COSON, thanked the organization for the award and the hosting, which he described as ”one of the best Saturday mornings” I have had. He said COSON is a ”Made in Nigeria Organization” functioning like an international organization in terms of competence, excellence and the understanding of its core mandate, but noted that the achievements of the organization are largely under-reported Alhaji Mohammed restated the federal government’s commitment to providing the enabling environment for the Creative Industry to thrive, and disclosed that the Administration’s economic and growth plan mentioned the Industry as one of the key areas for the diversification of the economy. He listed the provision of infrastructure, strong laws, protection of Intellectual Property and the enforcement of existing laws as some of the areas in which the government can intervene, adding: ”This Administration is steadily and consistently addressing those issues.” The Minister said efforts are also being made to give the Creative Industry a pioneer status so it can qualify for such incentives as tax holidays and waivers, especially of customs duties on the equipment for film and music production, among others. Decrying the situation in which the films and music meant for consumption in Nigeria are made in foreign countries, he said the government is determined to ensure that what is consumed in Nigeria, including films and music, must be made in Nigeria. The Minister was accompanied on the visit by the heads of relevant parastatals in the Ministry, including the Directors-General of the NTA (Yakubu Ibn Mohammed), FRCN (Mansur Liman), NTDC (Folorunso Coker) and the Executive Director of the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board (Adedayo Thomas). Chief Ebenezer Obey, Ras Kimono and 2Baba, who could not join their colleagues to receive the Minister, spoke to the audience at the ceremony via recorded videos. ”It is a great day to have you in our midst. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have to be in London. Notwithstanding my travelling to London, I am here with you in spirit. At COSON, we are for the progress of all. Hon. Minister, we thank you for being here with us,” Obey said.