By Balarabe Oshiafi
I was in Sokale Garden, Dutse, Abuja where friends and I had converged to watch the inauguration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on a big screen and celebrate the new dawn when Noble Okhidemeh called and broke the news. Filled with incredulity, I called Christopher Ebuetse, a brother and ranking Staff of Africa Independent Television (AIT). in between sobs, he confirmed to me that indeed, the colossus, High Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi has been snatched from us by gluttonous death.
“Wahid Ellams, is it true, where are you?” I asked in a follow-up phone conversation with an ally and brother. And to this he responded, “It’s what I’m hearing. It is very shocking and sad. I’m in Port Harcourt”.
Raymond Dokpesi was a man whose exploits, nobility and charisma would make many adjudge his death as swift. With this Raymond, the Afenmailand, was still expectant of more visibility from this worthy Son in much the same way as Nigeria was looking up to his political persona for wise counsel and democratic contributions up ahead.
Ha Ezomo of Weppa Wanno, what a time to bid Nigeria and the World good bye!
Dokpesi was a man of influence, affluence, Importance and substance. He was cosmopolitan, regularly social and natively responsible.
Given his birth and breeding in Ibadan, he could have been non challant about the promotion of the culture of Afenmailand like some of our people are known to be doing. No. Not this Raymond. Through the instrumentality of AIT and Raypower, he uplifted many Etsako Sons and Daughters and popularized our culture as he did various other tribes in Nigeria.
I’m nostalgic as I recall how in June, 1997, I started scripting Afenmai extravaganza, a dialectal sitcom on AIT. This drama piece which was being produced by Agnes Nwabuwa and in which I was also acting soon faced paucity of funds. Raymond Dokpesi gave an executive order that the drama series was doing the tradition and culture of Afenmailand good and that it should not be taken off air. Pari pasu, Afemai Ne’khai was celebrating our people on Raypower.
In 1999, I sent a copy of Hard To Come By, my first Novel to his office and asked to be allowed to talk about it on air before the public presentation. High Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi congratulated me and approved my coming on air, first with Mute Olori on Super Break Fast Show and at a later. date, with Jika Attoh on Kakaaki (The African Voice). Not a cent was collected from me for the twin appearances.
In 2020, this Chairman Emeritus celebrated his brother and my late Boss Prince Tony Momoh in a one hour documentary. Christopher Ebuetse who led the crew that came to our office in Abuja only asked for information that they didn’t already have. That documentary is worth thirteen million naira and it was wholly researched, shot and broadcast at the pleasure of Aleogho.
Death, gluttonous terminator of man’s sojourn on earth, has indeed dealth us a deadly blow by snatching this Icon from us at this time. What with the several dependants who daily look up to him for upkeep and will have to grapple with soldiering on with the exit their benefactor!
While commenting on the passage of this illustrious Nigerian in an Interview on AIT, Okoh Aire, his biographer, disclosed that Raymond Dokpesi revealed to him that he once lived “wild”because he never thought he would spend up to 30 or;40 years on earth given the circumstances of his birth.
The biographer further revealed that the late mogul was a sickler in his infancy, such that his mother frequently visited the hospital in her bid to keep him alive.
The doctorate degree holder in marine engineering did not just spend up to 71 years in this troubled world, he lived a hugely successful and exemplary life.
High Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi, go well and remain brotherly with Tony Momoh in Paradise.