By ‘Timi Alaibe
Again, death has left us breathless with another devastating blow. It has claimed one of our best—an amiable fellow, a friend, a brother, an uncle, a visionary, an innovator, a man of unimpeachable value.
When the news hit the airwaves in the early hours of May 29, it had the eerie touch of the worst thing to be heard in quite a while.
High Chief Aleogho Raymond Dokpesi was different things to different people. He was someone so fully committed to the Nigerian Project, an exceptional African with respect for our beliefs and values, an inspiration and a patriot.
To the broadcast industry in Africa, he was the doyen—a pathfinder, an optimist, he never gave-up on his convictions. His mind was always fertile with fresh and fruitful ideas.
At a time when it was forbidden for individuals to set up and own radio and television stations in Africa, he blazed the trail by establishing the Ray Power Radio and African Independence Television.
Suddenly, we savoured a refreshing experience—always tuning-in and listening to news, ideas and opinions or watching entertainments that were different from what we were eternally condemned to on government broadcast stations.
Everyone wanted to identify with these innovations. Their jingles, signature tunes and the dress styles of presenters were unique and purely African. Something new was in the air. We loved it
He did the uncommon. When it was fanciful for Nigerians and Africans to bear foreign names and parade same on radio and television, he insisted that On-Air-Professionals must promote Africaness by using their native names.
Then he gave the staff free hands to practice what they knew in line with global best practices. High Chief Dokpesi never pretended to know it all. He appreciated professionalism in every aspect.
As these broadcast stations grew in prominence, he gradually started withdrawing his control and influence and handed over the management to young people with fresh ideas and required experiences.
I cannot vividly recall when we first met. But my eternal impression of him was that of a disciplined fatherly figure, a global businessman and someone who was not afraid of experimenting with new ideas irrespective of where such came from.
A first-class entrepreneur and lover of intellectual excellence, Dokpesi had useful connections in high places. He was an unequalled mobiliser of people and ideas.
High Chief Dokpesi was committed to the Niger Delta Dream. He supported and personally participated in discussions and negotiations meant to advance the cause of the Niger Delta region.
When we started the NDDC, he afforded us unqualified access his mass media outlets to publicize our activities, prospects and challenges.
During my era as the Managing Director of the NDDC, High Chief Dokpesi was always there to offer advice. We had a shared vision on the implementation of the Niger Delta Development Master Plan.
Shrewd in business and inspiring in leadership, the Ezomo knew how to create and keep friendships. He stood by his friends, no matter the threats to his person. He never ran away from taking bullets for his friends.
In politics, as in business, he played by the rules. He was daring but straightforward. He was never afraid of telling the truth to power.
Then death knocked at a very unexpected time. It swept everyone off their feet and kicked us senseless.
It would be difficult to resolve this riddle: Why should such a man die—so suddenly? What happened? Many questions. No answers.
The huge irony is that Ezomo Dokpesi left us on the day a new President was sworn-in to office. A true democrat, he left us on our democracy day.
Here was a man who fancied democracy and enmeshed himself in the emergence of a people’s President for Nigeria.
He dreamt it. He lived for it. He worked for it—until the day he took his last breath. That was what pushed him into partisan politics.
It is difficult to conclude that we will never see our High Chief again. It’s unthinkable. How would life be without his towering presence? But then, this is the truth we must learn to live with.
The death of High Chief Aleogho Raymond Dokpesi is not the end of his story. It actually marks the beginning of an endless reflection. His life was a history yet to be written.
To his family, I wish you God’s strength. To the Daar Communication community, you have to keep the flag flying higher and higher. To his friends and associates, we will surely miss him.
Adieu, Ezomo of Weppa-Wanno Kingdom.