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LogoDaily Independent Online.         * Tuesday, May 04, 2004.

Honours for embattled Dokpesi

By Banji Ojewale

Head, Covers & Investigation, Lagos

Rambunctious Raymond Anthony Aleogho Dokpesi, executive chairman of Daar Communications well-known operators of even more popular RayPower FM (1&2) and Africa Independent Television (AIT), has come a long way from Ibadan (Loyola College) through Sopat (University of Gdansk, Poland) and down to Lagos where, as a budding socialite and philanthropist, he inspired King Sunny Ade to wax a melodious panegyric which deejays still turn on in a collection of tunes of yesteryears.

That long-winding trajectory of Dokpesi’s life isn’t the full-orbed picture.  For the man was also the Managing Director of Africa Ocean Lines.  He rendered priceless work to Nigeria when he served on the committee on Decentralization of Nigerian Ports (1983), Shipping Policy Implementation committee (1985) and committee on the Commercialisation of Nigerian Ports (1987).

There are literary activities to boot.  A Dokpesi watcher told Daily Independent:  “Very few Nigerians are aware that Dokpesi has churned out some seminal works on the maritime industry.  I readily recall two publications:  Thoughts on Nigerian National Shipping Policy in 1980 and The issue of a shipping policy for Nigeria six years later … We in the industry value these books.”

But his foray into politics was tragic.  The National Republican Convention he sauntered into was plagued with the ill-luck of its creator’s devilry.  Had the party, along with its twin survived, it would have been the eighth wonder of the world!

A wonder of a sort did come eventually for Dokpesi when he launched Nigeria’s first private FM Radio Station in 1994.  He brought colour and panache to the nation’s dour airwaves, which had lost the old glamour.  Two years later there came something more ambitious: the entry of AIT.

The instant success or rather the reception accorded the channel in Lagos and several other cities as it spread its reach was phenomenal.  One newspaper writer exaggerated the situation when he said that “What Dr. Dokpesi has done to the TV industry is akin to the revolution Chief Obafemi Awolowo initiated when he started Black Africa’s TV station, WNTV, in Ibadan in 1959.”

Obviously that was a precipitate, far-fetched comparison.  For so early in its life, AIT posted signals of a poor run of operations at all levels.  Dokpesi broke his covenant with the staff when he cut their salaries twice.  Later there were a series of yearly retrenchments.  Finally, the era of perennial salary delays and defaults set in.  It is still the order of the day.

To Dokpesi’s credit, however, AIT and Ray-Power remain unbowed before this welter of storms.  He has even dug in through studio and editorial outposts in key cities in Nigeria, Europe and North America, even if output is a far cry from thoroughness.

Industry watchers say the elemental never-say-die spirit Dokpesi has applied in keeping his broadcast chain afloat is what he would also resort to as he battles the National Broadcasting Commission in his capacity as the Chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria.  They don’t descry defeat in his path.

If victory at the local scene is yet to come for the Daar Communications boss, it is already a reality at the international level.  It came last week through the esteemed Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award in Accra, Ghana and the Foundation for Excellence in Business Practice in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dokpesi received the prestigious awards for “your Daar Communications foresight and meteoric rise to the top in Africa …  Your Radio and Television stations’ contributions and achievements as a focused establishment that has placed Nigeria on the world map… are therefore commendable.”

Threatened and beleaguered at home, Dokpesi might just rest in the nest of last week’s awards, where he would take consolation and inspiration in the company of other illustrious winners like Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), Ufot Ekaette, Secretary to the Nigerian Government, and Kola Daisi, a leading industrialist.



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