When people die, we mourn. But the death of a great man who spent a better part of his life in the service of mankind brings fond memories that seem to partially heal the grief.
Such it was when the news came on May 29, a significant day in the life of Nigeria, with a rude shock, that the founder of Daar Communications, High Chief Raymond Aleogho Anthony Dokpesi, Ezonomo of Weppa-Wanno Kingdom, has left the world.
Drawing from William Shakespeare’s philosophical comparison of the world and theatre production with all men and women as actors assigned roles, I will say Dokpesi played his role to the best of his ability and the admiration of all who knew him. And if immortality is living a life worth remembering, he surely did book an enviable space for himself.
I met the High Chief many times right from the time he was in shipping up to the time he was the anchor man in Bamanga Tukur’s foray into elective politics in 1983. We since then became friends.
Of all the encounters I had with the departed High Chief from Agenebode, three were significant. The first was when I was governor of Oyo State in 2003. He led a delegation to visit me and to plead that we should support a South-South candidate for president in the 2007 election. He was not campaigning for himself because he made it clear to me that he was not vying for president at that time. Of course, in a private meeting he told me who he was supporting.
The second stand-out encounter was in 2014. Dokpesi came to my Apapa residence asking that I should stand by President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 elections.
The third was in 2018 when I was contesting for the chairmanship of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was also contesting for the same position. He encouraged meetings of the aspirants to see whether we could have a consensus. These meetings took place in his residence. At least five of us attended the meetings, including Uche Secundus, who eventually clinched the position. Although we never agreed on a consensus, the election was hitch free and we contestants remained friends.
These encounters showed Dokpesi as a selfless, but focused person. He never lived for himself alone. He was always out helping others realise their goals. One other defining characteristic of his life was his humility. All his successes and the first he earned as the pioneer private radio station owner in Nigeria never got into his head. He was always relaxed and ever smiling. He was always ready and willing to find equitable solutions to problems.
Dokpesi will be sorely missed. He hungered for a Nigeria where things will work. His contributions will be well documented by chroniclers of history as a man who used his God-given talents to deepen the discourse for democratic rule through his media empire. He created platforms for others to succeed and realise their potentialities.
While expressing my condolences to the family, I pray that God, in His infinite mercies, will forgive his shortcomings and admit him into paradise.
Ladoja, a former governor of Oyo State and Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE), is the Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland.