By Edwin Emeka Aboh
There is no doubt that birthday mean different things to different people. To some, it is time for celebration while to others it is a time for reflection or taking stocks of one’s life. Whichever angle it is been viewed or celebrated the major thing is that birthday gives us the opportunity to look at our lives, examine it and make amend where necessary and then consolidate in the course of accomplishing our mission in this material world.
It is in the light of the above of expression or reality that I examine the life of High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, his struggles, his business, politics and accomplishments as a man who has contributed in
no small measure in making Nigeria better than he met it.
Born on October 25, 1951, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi began his early education at the Loyola College, Ibadan. Thereafter, he moved to the Immaculate Conception College (ICC) Benin City.
While in the ancient city of Benin, he started off his undergraduate studies in the University of Benin before going abroad to complete his studies in Poland where he obtained BSc, MSc and PhD in Marine Engineering from the University of Gdansk Sopot, Poland.
As first class brain of the great institution, High Chief Dokpesi became lecturer in the University of Gdansk, Poland. As an Assistant Lecturer in Marine Transport Economics, Dr. Dokpesi was highly regarded and respected for the vibrancy and dynamism he brought in to play in the school lecturing activities before returning back to Nigeria on a special invitation from the then Head of States who was on a state visit to Poland.
While in Poland, Dr. Dokpesi served in the following capacities; President, Nigerian Students Union, University of Gdansk, Poland. President, African Students Union. President, International Students Association and President, Nigerian Students, Eastern Europe.
Before traveling abroad for further studies, Dr. Dokpesi briefly worked as Marine Officer Cadet in 1969, here in Nigeria.
Upon his return to Nigeria, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi started work with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Transport and Authority as Head of Water Transportation Division on Secondment from Nigerian Ports between 1978 and 1983. He also served as the Managing Director, African Ocean Line Limited between 1984 and 1988. It also good to state here that African Ocean Line was the first indigenous shipping company in Nigeria and Africa at large.
High Chief Dokpesi also served as Chairman, Baldok Shipping Lines Limited before becoming the Executive Chairman of DAAR Communications Limited.
It is also worthy of note that DAAR Communications Limited is a product of the deregulation policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the broadcasting industry.
As a result, High Chief Dokpesi launched Ray Power FM, the first Nigerian private FM radio station in 1994. Two years later, the High Chief launched the African Independent Television (AIT) which is also the first private TV station in Nigeria. Today, AIT is a household name as it is now received in America, Europe, Mexico, Caribbean among other continents or countries of the world. Also, the AIT is the first Nigerian TV station and at the same time, first African Satellite TV station on records.
Dr. Dokpesi is also the pioneer of the first Nigerian TV station to run 24 hours nonstop in Nigeria’s broadcasting industry entirely.
Apart from pioneering the first radio station in Nigeria, Dr. Dokpesi is also the pioneer of the first indigenous shipping line in the country. That was why his deep and insightful intellectual power was put to use in the formulation of the Nigerian Shipping Policy Decree of 1986.
High Chief Dokpesi also served as the President of the Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria from 1999 to 2003. He was also the Co-Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) in 2001.
The High Chief is also a recipient of Dr. Kwame Nkurumah Africa Leadership Award and Gold Medal for Excellence in Business Practice. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Institute of Directors
(IoD) 2007 Entrepreneurial Award.
It is also right to state here that High Chief Dokpesi is not only a business guru, but also a political Juggernaut of the highest order as he has successfully headed governorship and presidential campaign projects of many great politicians in the country. Some of the many projects includes; Campaign Manager for Alhaji Dr. Bamanga Tukur. The governorship project was very successful that Alhaji Tukur became Governor of the then Gongola State and subsequently appointed Dr. Dokpesi as the Chief of Staff to the State Government in 1983 before the military intervention which terminated the fledgling democracy.
Dr. Dokpesi was also the Campaign Manager for the Alhaji Adamu Ciroma Presidential Campaign Project which was very successful until government banned old breed politicians from the scene so that younger politicians could grow.
The same stroke of cane was applied by the Federal Government when he was the Campaign Manager for the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur Presidential Campaign Organisation in 1993.
As the Campaign Manager for Dr. Peter Odili Presidential Campaign Organisation, every close watcher of Nigerian politics knew that Peter Odili was on his way to becoming Nigeria’s President until the former President Obasanjo intervened to allow power to rotate to the North.
Similar scenario played out when High Chief Dokpesi was the Director-General, General Ibrahim Babangida Presidential Campaign Organisation. Babangida would have won the Presidential Election before the census arrangement of the Northern Political Leaders Forum led by Alhaji Adamu Ciroma produced another candidate for the North.
High Chief Dokpesi is also one of the leaders of the South South Peoples Assembly as well as the South South Elders Forum.
Dr. Dokpesi is also a great author as he is the author of the following books: ”Optimal Size of Tanker for International Trade, ”1974. ”West African Shipping Range,” 1975. ”Technology Change in
Shipping and Its Impact on Ports,” 1976 among many other books.
High Chief Dokpesi also holds the National Honour of the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic OFR which was bestowed on him by the Federal Government in recognition of his numerous contributions to Nigeria’s development on February 14, 2008.
Other honours and chieftaincy titles bestowed on him includes: ”Ogieorumoa of Weppa Wanno, ”1986. Araba of Osooroland,” 1987. ”Gbobaniyi of Ilawe-Ekiti” 1994. ”Sardaunna of Kpaduma, Abuja” 2002. ”Ezomo of Weppa Wanno Land” 2003 among others.
On the political front, High Chief Dokpesi is a strong pillar of the Nigerian Democracy and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as he has used his personal resources to fund several activities of the PDP at different times.
Therefore, for a man who has done both Nigeria and his party, the PDP proud in several ways, I think the best birthday gift that should be given to him by his party is to make him the National Chairman of PDP in the December Convention so that he can reposition the party properly ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
Mr Edwin Emeka is an award-winning Columnist. He writes from Abuja. Contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org
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