Of course, like some people, I was in a short space of unbelief when the news filtered in that Dr. Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi was gone – on the inauguration day, 29 May, 2023. Yes, I understand that no one will escape the homecall notice when it pleases the Almighty, but recollecting the way the man was built – a massive ‘concrete’ of flesh, ambition, vision, innovation, dare-devilry, indefatigable appetite for work, logic, preparation and strategic offensive shock-ability – it was difficult to imagine Dokpesi lying supine somewhere, helpless, hopeless and motionless.
Here is a man who could not be held down by gargantuan obstacles that would have wasted most souls…he braved the odds gamely, swatting off hindrances, cynicism, dithering hesitance with flourishing swag of his arms, and penetrating acuity of his mind as strategies tumbled out… you just knew he had spent quality time musing, thinking and preempting all likely moves and countermoves against his next enterprise. He didn’t seem like one death could pull down so suddenly, and brusquely. I mean, he was only 71, and still ebullient despite the scars and vestiges of countless battles and pulverizing counter measures by people who saw him as a threat.
Today, we choose to remind us of the incredible legacies of this charming man of many parts, and a master of living life to the hilt… and in the second part of this article, the glorious epiphany of his redoubtable lieutenant who just stepped into the septuagenarian orchard. Let us proceed.
“When Raypower started test transmission late December of 1993 on 100.5 frequency modulation, the country was in the throes of anguish, threats and general unrest as a result of the annulment of the 12th of June, 1993 presidential election barely six months earlier. It was such a moment, in hindsight, that it was foolhardy to grant a broadcast license to a private citizen, for the first time, and be unwary of dire consequences of misuse or sabotage or whatever evil machinations enemies of a discredited military junta could whip up. Obviously, Dokpesi must have been seen as an apple of Maradona’s eye who was above reproach…with absolute confidence that the experiment would not boomerang. That was in 1992.
Unfortunately, the new year (1994) ushered in a new Sheriff who perceived danger all around him, and lashed out as he deemed appropriate. The infant outfit, still doing “testing testing”, was declared an “illegal station” on January 15, 1994 under the vehement gaze of Gen. Sani Abacha. Exactly nine months after, ostensibly finessed by the diplomatic skills and charm offensive of Dokpesi, the station received the “all-clear” signal on August 15. The work-starved professionals swung into action, and launched commercial broadcasting on that cool first day of September, 1994.
The miracle of Raypower of the 90’s was not squeezed into reality by some magic, luck or some dodgy government patronage. The greatness of Raypower is carved by an admix of unassuming talents strangely infused with the capacity for industry, diligence, resourcefulness, dare-devil determination to tread where normal people would run mad…and the unNigerian ability to work, sacrifice, deposit all that the pioneer staff had or could muster…as if it was their personal business which must rise and soar, even as the world was coming to end!
When it comes to bold innovations and bravura in pulling chestnuts out of a broiling furnace, your best partner is Raymond Anthony Aleogho Dokpesi. You may not like his style or distrust his ambition, no one can dismiss the incredible attainments of the Aghenebode (Edo) high chief in the entertainment world of Nigeria. Born in Ibadan, Oyo State, on October 25, 1951 the Ray of Raypower FM, stormed big business with a loud splash – launched the first shipping line this side of the world with pioneer billionaire, Chief MKO Abiola, Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, still in his 20’s!
Nearer home, and relevant to us, are his forays into broadcasting and entertainment. As usual, it was with the biggest splash late in the century that Dokpesi, a first class graduate (received his doctorate degree in Marine Engineering at age 26), seized our hearts and dance steps with the commencement of broadcast signals of Raypower 100.5 FM on September (1), 1994. He practically combed out a modern production city-village out of the rustic wasteland of Alagbado, on the outskirts of Lagos State…
And trust the hard-nosed businessman, while simple men and women would pursue means of calming their opponents’ nerves, the doctor of engineering from University of Gdansk, Poland, pushed in the screw-driver – and what a giant one. Large of frame and awesome in gait, Dokpesi revealed himself usually in the expansiveness of his projects. The concept, planning, financing, acquisitions and man-power outlay of African Independent Television, AIT, about two years after Raypower, in 1996, literally took away the breath of everyone, most especially veterans who wrote the scripts of Nigerian broadcasting. Dokpesi tore the scripts into shreds, and wrote a sparkling new script – Nigerian broadcasting and entertainment have never been the same again.
If still in doubt, ask countless Nigerian artistes, promoters, actors, producers, award organisers and sundry practitioners of show-business how their lives and professional exertions would have ended if not for the sometimes effusive and bewildering interventions of Dokpesi’s media muscle. Surely, Nigerian entertainment owes Raymond Alaegho Dokpesi endless pearls of accolades…”.
OLUSESAN EKISOLA WALTZES INTO 70
Life is unceasing…relentless…often complex. Barely one month after the demise of Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, his co-dream maker and Man Friday in the trenches of cultivated imagination that produced the glorious emergence of Nigeria’s private broadcasting turned 70 years old. This is a tribute to a living legend…the ultimate wingman in magical creative enterprise. Here we go:
“Broadcaster par excellence, founding General Manager of OGBC 2 FM, pioneer General Manager of Raypower FM, Managing Director of DAAR Communications, and now Publisher/CEO of the Kalahari Media – Mr. Olusesan Ekisola was 70 on 26th of June, 2023.
I met his voice long before I met his person…and I was mesmerized…and even as an adult, I’ve not need “cured” of the “virus” – his enigmatic and wit-drooling conversations, and “caressing” of his listeners with wisecracks, anecdotes and polished knockabouts.
We (hardy Lagos boys exposed for the first time to some nightly freedom) used to love jumping out of our boarding house, occasionally, around 1977-1978 at Lisabi Grammar School, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, Ogun State… our destination and object of such confounding nocturnal escapade was to go clutch around the inner perimeter fence of the new Gateway Hotel, Ibara, and watch Ekisola and some other DJs from the then rave radio station, OGBC…blasting the night away with infectious music and adlibs. Quick disclaimer: these were wonderful moments I won’t recommend now as a responsible parent! Dangerous childish indulgence.
One of the smartest things the recently late media mogul and angel investor, Dr. Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi, did in birthing Raypower 105 FM was his ability to turn to his vision the hearts of some of the best voices and minds on radio, led by the young-looking ‘headmaster’ at the then high-flying new FM station of Ogun State, OGBC-2, self-styled ‘the ultimate in style’.
It was the astonishing mixture of a swashbuckling salesman and bohemian jolly fellow that was Dokpesi – with the vast experience and easy conviviality of Ekisola that ‘conjured’ the amazing appetite and panache of other brilliant folks which cooked what turned out as the golden dawn of private radio in the annals of Nigerian broadcasting – and even more staggering, the offshoot and sustenance of 24-hour live broadcasting…nonpareil!
All of that massive miracle was by a small troop of “never-say-die” dream merchants with the incomparable grandmaster and peerless professional, Olusesan Ekisola in the front column…deep inside the rugged, rustic trenches of Alagbado.
On Monday, 26 June, in Ijebu-Ode, family, friends and fans celebrated his 70th birthday inside the revered innards of the Cathedral of Our Saviour, Ita Ọlọwajọda, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
Ahoy! Sail on, the soul pleaser!”