Monday, May 29, 2023, was a mixed grill for Nigeria and Nigerians. A few hours to the inauguration of new governments at national and sub-national levels, the sad news of the death of one of the nation’s illustrious sons, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Chairman Emeritus, Daar Communications, filtered the airwaves.
In a statement, Raymond Dokpesi Jnr expressed deep sadness and heavy hearts over the demise of his father on May 29, 2023. He noted that Dokpesi was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend to many, who will be deeply missed.
“High Chief Raymond Aleogho Anthony Dokpesi (Ezomo of Weppa-Wanno Kingdom) was also a respected and accomplished businessman, a pioneer in the media industry, and a philanthropist, who dedicated his life to the service of his country and his community. His legacy will live on through the impact he made on the lives of many.
“The Dokpesi family is grateful for the outpouring of love and support during this difficult time. We ask that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of our patriarch. We also ask for privacy during this time as we grieve together as a family,” he said.
According to family members, Dokpesi died while being treated at a hospital in Abuja. He had a stroke after fasting during Ramadan and was recovering. During a routine gym session, Dokpesi was electrocuted while using the equipment, resulting in a stroke and, sadly, his death.
Dokpesi, who died at 71, is a renowned businessman and media mogul. He was born in Ibadan, Oyo state, on October 25, 1951, and is originally from Agenebode, Edo state. The late Dokpesi was reputed for founding and leading Daar Communications Plc, a media conglomerate that owns and manages several numbers of Nigerian television and radio stations.
The deceased attended Loyola College in Ibadan for his basic and secondary studies. He continued his education at Immaculate Conception College (ICC) in Benin City, Edo state where he created a dance/drama group. Dokpesi graduated from the University of Benin with a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering and a master’s in marine engineering from the University of Gdansk in Poland. Notably, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur provided financial support for his studies, displaying his confidence in his ability.
The late Dokpesi’s career in the Nigerian media environment was marked by his insight. He established DAAR Communications, which grew to be a prominent player in the mass media sector. He founded Africa Independent Television (AIT), Nigeria’s first private television network, under its auspices. This endeavour altered the media landscape of the country.
Dokpesi’s entrepreneurial spirit extended beyond broadcasting. Raypower FM, Nigeria’s first privately owned radio station, and the Nigerian Compass newspaper were both founded by him. He was a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In his condolence message, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was sworn in as Nigeria’s 16th president on the same day Dokpesi died, said the loss was a “blow” to the media industry”, adding that the media mogul’s investment was an inspiration to many people.
“The death of High Chief Raymond Dokpesi is a blow to the media industry, where he has played pioneering roles in private broadcasting,” the president was quoted in a statement by Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, a media aide.
“His pacesetting investment in the industry is an inspiration to many who come after him. The history of the evolution of the Nigerian media industry will be incomplete without prominent mention of Dokpesi and his giant footprints on the media landscape.
“I express my sincere condolences to the management and staff of DAAR Communications and the family of the late media entrepreneur for this monumental loss.”
On his part, former Vice-president Atiku Abubakar said he was shocked when he received the news of the death of the media mogul. “Oh my God! I am in a state of shock. You shouldn’t have left us on a date like this, Ezomo. But what can we do? As we say in Islam, from God we came and to Him we return. My everlasting and deepest condolences to his family, associates and admirers. May God forgive his sins and grant him paradise.”
Also, the PDP described Dokpesi’s death as a “colossal national loss and a big blow to the party’s family”. Debo Ologunagba, PDP spokesperson, said the opposition party was “devastated” by the death of the media guru, who was a member of its board of trustees (BoT).
“He was a detribalised Nigerian, who put the interest and well-being of our nation above every other consideration and made numerous positive landmarks in our national political, economic and social landscapes,” the PDP said.
Blueprint joins all well-meaning Nigerians and corporate organisations to mourn the passing of High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, who is a leading light in the media industry. That the founder of DAAR Communications died on a day Nigeria was marking a monumental democratic phase is quite significant and epochal. It illuminates the fact that the late Dokpesi was a true democrat, a patriot and statesman.
We, therefore, implore the Tinubu government to immortalise the late Dokepsi by naming a national monument after him. May the deceased soul rest in peace!