The Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria, (BON) Awards of the 17th of May, 2023, became the first of their kind in the Nigerian broadcasting industry.
It was a cheery event as icons of broadcasting gathered. The BON organization with its maiden edition has taken the gauntlet to further unit the body which is growing by the day.
The inspiring BON gathering made me reminisce in the person of Dr Raymond Aleogho Anthony Dokpesi, OFR, who was honoured with a life time achievers award. His pioneering efforts in private broadcasting remarkably reminded many of his admirers, of an Eagle, a national patriot in the development of private broadcasting in Nigeria.
To further deepen our values in broadcasting; In today’s Nigeria, the 25th of October, would remain ideal to be couched by the Federal Government, as a day of private broadcasting. The demand by practitioners and people from all walks of life, in our yearly Raymond Dokpesi Endurance trek, in the past 15 years is a testament to his role in private broadcasting.
A day of private broadcasting will create some value chains for the government, the broadcasting industry and Nigerians as the ultimate beneficiaries of the system.
The good thing today is that the people are talking through various broadcasting platforms and one man, broke government monopoly in broadcasting, the feat wasn’t ordinary as it was in the military era where one could be framed and killed on account of a dissenting voice and Raymond Dokpesi, became the cleansing patriotic character, like the Eleshi, in Wole Soyinka’s book; the strong breed.
And when we go back to the history of the birth of broadcasting in Nigeria, it will only be audacious for us to commend the vision of the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who through his vision and foresight established the Western Nigeria television authority;
In the formative years of Dr. Raymond Aleogho Anthony Dokpesi, in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
As a small boy, it was during his childhood, in 1956, that the western Nigeria television company came into being.
And then, television boxes could only be purchased by the affluent, and Raymond’s parents were not rich enough to buy one.
The father being a Clark, and his mother selling bean cakes, where they lived, the Adamasigba area of Ibadan.
Raymond Dokpesi, Watching television through the windows of privileged neighbours, created a strong desire to break the shackles of deprivation and poverty.
The road to achieving greatness may not be too smooth for him; the thorns associated with the hurdles of life in his memoir may just be too horrifying.
We saw the inner determination of this character rooted historically in a poor background, from which providence, strength, and determination gave room to a catalytic desire to change the narratives.
We could mention a few names of those who grew from squalor to greatness. The likes of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and former military President Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida, perhaps the outgoing President of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari,’s background and beginning weren’t those of affluence.
Beyond the above, so many captains of industries had it poor, and they were influenced by their background to find a direction in life. Such was the path of High Chief Dr. Raymond Aleogho Anthony Dokpesi.
The recent broadcasting award makes us go back to history, reminiscing on his background and upbringing. As a lad, peeping through the windows of the affluent to watch television, considered the magical box then, due to curiosity and for some insights into the happenings in his environment
During the civil war, while his father was later transferred to the then mid-western Nigeria, with capital in Benin City, he would still go to the houses of the affluent to watch television. So through him, his siblings, other children of his age, and older folks were able to get true information about the civil war.
His desire to express himself led him to join a theater troupe called the Ozola Playhouse, formed by a renounced playwright, director, actor, university teacher, and instructor, Pa Jonathan Ihonde.
Pa Ihonde’s story of Raymond Aleogho Anthony Dokpesi, he sees as his dependable, reliable, and most formidable actor and dancer in his troupe.
He did not stay long as he later found his way into a Polish university, Wyzsza Szkota Morska Gdynia, to read marine engineering, and with a PhD, he was back in Nigeria to help contribute to the development of the country. Dokpesi would always remind those who chose to hear his history that former President Olusegun Obasanjo met him in Poland and facilitated his return to Nigeria.
The television box in his early years was remarkable and when the opportunity came to venture into broadcasting, he came in, regardless of the challenges and sensitivity of the military at that time. No one saw a future for the industry as it was a monopoly of the government.
With the deregulation in broadcasting, not withstanding the dare-devil nature of the business, hounding of journalists, and the history of many behind bars, he ventured and opened the first private broadcasting company in Nigeria, RayPower 100.5 FM.
With a private radio Station, came that alternative voice; Nigerians were yearning for as opposed to that of the government. Raymond Dokpesi was brave, tenacious, and vociferous. His private broadcasting outfit became a new dimension to information dissemination. He provided the boost for what we see in today’s fearless broadcasting. Raypower 100.5 FM originated during the dark periods of the military. Providence has him as the mantle, the progenitor of private broadcasting in Nigeria.
As a practitioner, so, many others honour Dokpesi, he gave his all, in the building of an egalitarian society, he has lost much, denied much, verified much, insulted much, blackmailed much, disparaged much, and had been accused of crimes that hitherto were never traced to him. The late erudite professor of philosophy, C. S Momoh, described him a pan African.
History will remain kind to Raymond Dokpesi for championing the growth and development of private broadcasting in Nigeria. It is for this reason that well-meaning Nigerians, without bias, are requesting that the federal government of Nigeria recognize the 25th of October as a day of private broadcasting in Nigeria.
Why is the 25th the right day? It is the day the iconic man of private broadcasting was born, and it is to mark the history and revolution in private broadcasting.
It is our humble request that The Federal Republic of Nigeria, should please approve our values in private broadcasting.
The significance of such recognition has been discussed, and it is still being discussed. Such a day will help to further continue to build and enhance private broadcasting practices in Nigeria.
By Dr Christopher Ebuetse
Broadcaster, Publisher/ Author, Sociopolitical Commentator on National Issues.