Comets come but once in a century! And both the galaxy and mankind testify to such monumental phenomenon. For they are often few; impactful, historical and remarkable. Many prophets, saints and deities in history, hitherto in human form, have walked this hallowed corridor of life before transcending earthly ordinary to extraordinary realms of the supernatural.
Without sounding immodest, the Esomo of Edo State and Araba of Ondo State High Chief Raymond Anthony Aleogho Dokpesi, 71, until his death on 29 May 2023 in Abuja, was not just an illustrious Etsako or Afemai’s son from his Agenebode homestead of Edo State; but clearly a distinguished rainbow from the riverside town that beamed the powerful ray of modern communication and information dissemination to the world at large.
Truly, Dokpesi was a human enigma, iconoclastic idea purveyor and an innovative influence peddler. The idealist trail-blazer, pathfinder and pioneer of private broadcasting in the country probably lived before his time. Dynamic Dokpesi was himself a Comet that sauntered into our world like a maverick meteor.
Also like a prism or octagonal architecture, the erudite and ebullient innovator aka The Disruptor, the founder and Emeritus Chairman of Daar Communications, Dokpesi, was a class act in ingenuity, tenacity, endurance, perseverance and philanthropy. The Poland-trained doctoral Marine Engineer was classically urbane and humane. He was bold, brave and courageous. Yet fair but fearless. A patriot, statesman, shrewd businessman; but one with milk of human kindness.
To those who knew him so well, like former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democtratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar; High Chief Raymond Dokpesi was loyalty personified, a master strategist and unrepentant workaholic. To Professor Pat Utomi, his college schoolmate at Loyola College, Ibadan, Oyo State, the deceased fellow of many institutes, was a dreamer and activist for a better Nigeria. During the Civil War years, as a student, Dokpesi was renowned as one of the promising lads or future leaders from the MidWest Region (now Edo and Delta States).
In his heartfelt tribute, former military president of Nigeria (1985-92) General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, retired, referred to the late marine engineer-turned-media mogul and political juggernaut, Dokpesi, as the High Chief of rare ideas on nation building, human capital harmonisation and modernisation.
Meanwhile, a few critics of the Esomo would label him a slave driver based on his insatiable appetite for success and perfection. His never-say-die spirit marvelled even the doubters of his immense ability and capability, proficiency and efficiency. Dokpesi was dogged, rugged and unbothered by any form of hurdle or obstacles piled on his unpaved way. Call him a bull dozer!
Like a pioneer sailor without navigational compass, this high-staking multi-dimensional entrepreneur burrowed through the hard rocks of government bureaucracy in Nigeria, and sailed through stormy seas, to the Bay of Good Hope in global media communication, birthing Raypower Radio and Africa Independent Television, AIT. Hence, there’s no way the story of private broadcasting in the country would be chronicled without the name of Daar Communications’ boss etched in gold. Dokpesi was the torchbearer in the field. He got IBB, a military president, to liberalise the broadcasting space in Nigeria! What a man of tall ambition?
Although so much has been said or written about Esomo, the Power of Ray. But the legacy he has bequeathed to the world cannot be captured in a single book. In fact, Dokpesi, as great leader that he was, mentored many and provided the ladder for younger generations to grow in media, music, movie and sports. Today’s phenomenal influence of Nigerian entertainment in the glitzy circus of global showbiz, is no doubt traceable to Dokpesi’s special love and investment in these spheres of life.
Many prominent film stars, producers, sports administrators and acts have paid homage to High Chief Dokpesi, as the very wind beneath their wings to sail to stardom, world-fame and wealth. The great patriot and philanthropist many a time hired private jets to convey Nigerian sportsmen to events around the world, whenever government provisions failed. AIT has also devoted a chunk of its corporate social responsibility to raising funds for medicare abroad for needy but hapless citizens. Dokpesi largesse extended to scholarship and human development in so many communities, home and abroad.
To be candid, how can anyone conclude a piece on the multi-titled Mahogany Man, the Araba of Ondo State, without decorating him with the epaulets of the Defender of Democracy. Dogged Dokpesi from a very humble background, symbolically dug the grave with bare hands and media muscles, to bury former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s purported Third Term presidential bid. The dynamic and astute political actor also midwifed many developmental bills and laws through the National Assembly, at the expense of his dear sweat and tears.
Finally, because the Esomo of the Universe has replicated himself in several people and places around the world, it shall be impossible to think of his demise or death even in years to come. Rather, like in traditional Yoruba culture where a King (Oba) doesn’t die but wa’ja (transist into the loft to join the ancestors); High Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi, who incidentally was born in Ibadan, old Western Nigeria, must have climbed the ladder into the life after life. The Comet breezed in and left magically on a day that his choice for President, Atiku Abubakar, would have been sworn in; if not for the obviously rigged 25 February 2023 election in Nigeria. Adieu, Chairman Emeritus Daar Communications, High Chief Raymond Anthony Aleogho Dokpesi, OFR. Dokpesi can never die!
Farewell Esomo, the riverside rainbow and diamond Raymond; the modern day comet of our time.
A tribute sent in from Abuja by Akinrogun Alaba Yusuf, a Communication Strategist and Public Relations practitioner.
Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of Precision Online Newspaper.