The history of the Nigerian mass media depicts a competitive broadcasting environment especially after the liberalization of the industry in1992 to welcome private owners. With the entry of private media owners into radio and television business in the country the broadcasting industry began to witness amazing new entries that started lifting the status of the industry across the globe in terms of innovations and quality programming. One of the entrepreneurs who took the industry by storm with the establishment of phenomenal broadcast media organizations that marked turning point in the history of the industry is Raymond Anthony Aleogho Dokpesi, founder and former Chairman of DAAR Communications. The high level of reckoning being enjoyed across the world today by Nigeria’s broadcast industry is largely due to the quality Dokpesi brought with him into the industry that revolutionized broadcasting in Nigeria.
Who is Raymond Dokpesi?
Raymond Anthony Aleogho Dokpesi was born on the 25th of October 1951 in Ibadan, Oyo State. He hails from Agenebode in Etsako East Local Government Area in Edo State of Nigeria. He is one of the biggest media moguls in Africa, as his DAAR Communications company oversees media organizations that are among the best in the continent.
Dokpesi has a very impressive educational background which saw him studying both in Nigeria and abroad. He started his early schooling Ebenezer African Church Primary School and moved to Loyola College Ibadan before proceeding to the Immaculate Conception College (ICC) Benin City. At ICC Benin City he was the pioneer member of Ozolua Play house, a dance/drama group. He initially went to the University of Benin, Edo State for his undergraduate studies and before moving to Poland to finish his studies. His education from secondary school to university level was sponsored by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. He earned his Bsc, Masters and doctorate degrees from Wyzsza Szokta Morska Gdynia and University of Gdansk Sopot, Poland. Dokpesi was a very bright student as he graduated with a distinction and was as well the best graduating student in Marine Transport Engineering, a record that was the first in the past fifty years of University of Gdansk’s history. While in University of Gdansk, he served as the president of the following associations: The Nigerian Students Union, Gdansk Poland – 1972 – 1974; African Students Union, Poland – 1973; International Students Association, Poland – 1974; Nigerian Students, Eastern Europe – 1974. Dokpesi is also a fellow of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Chartered institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), Nigerian Institute of Shipping, Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), Institute of Transport Administration, and the Institute of Directors (IOD), Nigeria.
Journey into the world of Broadcasting
After the broadcast media landscape in Nigeria was opened up for privately owned media houses in 1992, Dokpesi took the first bold step that has made him a unique reference point in the history of Nigerian press. He established Africa Independent Television (AIT) which became Africa’s first satellite Television station. Dokpesi is regarded as the media guru of Nigeria while some see him as the Ted Turner of Nigeria. He did not only pioneer the first satellite TV but also the first privately owned radio station in Nigeria, Ray Power FM.
Dokpesi has a history of successes as a business giant in Africa but he had a humble career beginning as a civil servant. Before travelling to Poland to lecture, Dokpesi worked briefly at Nigeria Ports Authority as Marine Office Cadet in 1969. He was the personal assistant to Alhaji Bamaga Tukur one of the general managers of the Nigerian Ports Authority. After graduation, he lectured at the University of Gdansk, Poland as Assistant Lecturer in Marine Transport Economics. Afterwards, he returned to Nigeria to honor the invitation of the then Head of state who went on a visit to Poland. In 1978, he worked with the Federal Ministry of Transport and Aviation as Head of Water Transport Division on Secondment from Nigerian Ports Plc (NTCC). He was a civil servant in the Federal Ministry of Transport under Alhaji Umaru Dikko and General Garba Wushishi. The association of Raymond Dokpesi with the likes of the Tukurs and the late M.K.O. Abiola, resulted in the birth of African Ocean Lines (AOL), one of the businesses that took him to great heights and led to his success in other businesses. Dokpesi also served as the Chief of Staff of the Gongola State Government in 1983.
DAAR Communications Plc was established on August 31, 1998 and got converted to a public liability company on April 23rd, 2007. The company is the first private owned broadcasting company with 24 hour radio and TV operation in Nigeria. Dokpesi’s interest in showbiz and entertainment began in his early days in secondary school when he was the pioneer member of Ozolua Playhouse, dancedrama group. He decided to put his dream to reality when he conceived the idea of starting a radio station during the Ibrahim Babaginda regime when the atmosphere was conducive enough due to the deregulation of broadcasting in Nigeria. In 1994 he launched the first Nigerian private FM radio station Ray Power 100.5 FM. Two years later, he launched Africa Independent Television. His bold steps in taking the risk of pioneering establishment of privately owned radio and television stations in Nigeria ushered in other entrepreneurs who saw that the industry was actually interesting and business friendly. The likes of other top quality stations such as Galaxy TV, Silverbird TV, MBI television, Rhythm FM, among others, came into the scene and made the industry more competitive and exciting.
But Dokpesi’s AIT continued to lead the broadcasting industry at that time with further expansion beyond the shores of the country, a feat other stations could not attempt. On the 20th of September 2003, AIT launched its signals in the United States, and eventually expanded into other countries. The television station’s signals are now received in America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe-wide on the Hotbird satellite as well as countries within Africa. It is among the leading television stations in Africa.
Raypower started on September 1, 1994, in Alagbado, Lagos. Raypower 100.5FM is the choice of many in Nigeria and beyond. Its operation now spread across thirty two out of thirty-six states in Nigeria. In December 6, 1996, the organization pioneered a free to air TV Network Channel called African Independent Television (AIT) with headquarters in Abuja. AIT broadcasts throughout Africa and via Dish Network to North America. It also operates an International Satellite TV in USA, Europe, and through International Channel in UK (Channel 187 on Sky Digital). On October 7, 2008, DAAR Communications plc launched the first Nigerian based digital multi-channel direct-to-home subscription TV known as Daarsat. Another popular addition to the stable of Daar Communications in FAAJI FM which was launched on December, 12, 2012. It is a Yoruba and Pidgin English radio station with wide listenership base among audience members in both rural and urban areas.
Dokpesi is one of the biggest media entrepreneurs in Africa, though he also excelled in other businesses before moving into the media world. Among his notable achievements are as follows; he established the first privately owned radio station Raypower FM in Nigeria; pioneered Nigeria’s First global TV which was Africa’s first ever Satellite TV station; established the first TV station to run 24-hour broadcasting in Nigeria; launched the African Independent signals in the United States; Was once the Chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria; he established the first indigenous shipping line in Nigeria; helped in the formulation of the Nigerian Shipping Policy Act(decree) of 1986. These are enviable feats which strengthen his pedigree as a business giant and media mogul in Africa.
Dokpesi has also played crucial roles in the political landscape of Nigeria. He was the political campaign manager for Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s Gongola State House and Presidential campaign.
He was also the Political campaign manager for Adamu Ciroma presidential campaign in 1993 and he led the South-South People Assembly (SSPA) during Peter Odili’s presidential campaign.
Dr. Raymond Dokpesi contested for the position of National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party in 2017 but lost to Uche Secondus. He was a vibrant member of the PDP especially during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Dokpesi was one of the leaders of the South-South People Assembly (SSPA), an organisation that focused on promoting south-south people of Nigeria.
Awards and honours
Dokpesi has received numerous awards for his excellence in media and other business endeavors. Among the numerous prominent awards he has received are Dr. Kwame Nkurumah Africa Leadership Award and Gold Medal for Excellence in Business Practice, given by Foundation for Excellence in Business Practice; Institute of Directors (10D) Entrepreneurial Award – 2007; and National Merit Award, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) – 2008. He has also received prestigious chieftaincy titles from various communities, including his own. Among the chieftaincy tiles are Ogieorumoa of Weppa Wanno – 1986; Araba of Osooroland – 1987; Osese of South Uneme – 1990; Gbobaniyi of Ilawe-Ekiti – 1994; Oganigwe Umu Orji Ako Nibo – 1999; Sardaunna of Kpaduma, Abuja – 2002; and Ezomo of Weppa Wanno Land – 2003.
Dokpesi is also a renowned philanthropist in Nigeria and beyond. He has built schools for communities and also offered scholarships to prospective students at various levels of education. His successes in the business world are felt positively by those around him, including communities far from his base.
Dokpesi is indeed an inspiration to many Nigerians who believe that hard work can lead to monumental success. He has made an indelible mark in Nigeria’s media landscape with a record as the pioneer of modern digital broadcasting in the country.