Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi
Last week, we dealt extensively with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Waziri Adamawa, as one iconic hero of our time. Today, we shall take a look at the media czar, High Chief Raymond Anthony Ayaoghena Dokpesi. Then we shall focus on an unusual woman with an uncommon record of “firsts” in Nigeria, Chief Folake Solanke, SAN, OON, CON.
Dokpesi, the Ted Turner of Nigeria
This media mogul and chairman emeritus of DAAR Communications Plc, took a curious path many Nigerians believed was impossible when he launched DAAR Communications Plc, the first private broadcasting company in Nigeria, pioneering the Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM.
Obviously the Ted Turner of Nigeria, because of his fresh insights and innovations in the highly competitive media industry, Dokpesi is also a deep researcher, humanitarian, avid reader, and philanthropist extraordinaire. Not many people know that DAAR actually represents the initials of his names read from the surname (Dokpesi Ayaoghena Aleogho Raymond, or Dokpesi Anthony Aleogho Raymond).
Born 25th October, 1951, in Ibadan, Oyo State, Dokpesi, who hails from Agenebode, Edo State, attended Ebenezer African Church School, Ibadan, for his primary school education; Loyola College, Ibadan, and Immaculate Conception College (ICC), Benin City, for his Secondary School education.
Dokpesi initially started his undergraduate studies at the University of Benin, before travelling abroad for further studies, where he acquired his bachelor’s, masters and doctorate degrees from Wyzsza Szokta Morska Gdynia and University of Gdansk Sopot, Poland.
Amazingly, young Raymond graduated with distinction and was decorated as the best graduating student in Marine Transport Engineering after over 50 years of University of Gdansk’s existence.
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the then general manager of the Nigerian Ports Authority, was said to have sponsored Dokpesi’s primary, secondary and tertiary education.
As a born leader of men and material, while in University of Gdansk, Dokpesi 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); and Nigerian Students, Eastern Europe (1974).
Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Nigerian Institute of Shipping, Nigerian Institute of Management, Institute of Transport Administration, and the Institute of Directors, Nigeria, the Ezomo of Weppa-Wanno Kingdom, later in 1978, worked with the Federal Ministry of Transport and Aviation as head of Water Transport Division on secondment from Nigeria Ports Plc (NTCC). He later served as the chief of staff to the Gongola State government in 1983.
Dokpesi’s entrepreneurial journey
In the 1980s, Dr. Dokpesi started the first indigenous shipping line in Africa, known as African Ocean Lines, which was involved in the formulation of the Nigerian Shipping Act (Decree) of 1986. He later solely founded Baldok Shipping Lines Ltd and Ramat Properties Ltd.
Dokpesi had been a lover of entertainment right from his secondary school days, where he pioneered a dance/drama group known as “Ozolua Play House”. However, he was unable to start his own entertainment platform due to the restrictive provisions of the National Broadcasting Commission Decree. The decree had only allowed government-owned broadcasting companies to handle Nigeria’s broadcast. Remember sitting in front of the black-and-white television, waiting for the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) to start its broadcast at 4pm, in those days?
Fortunately, the then Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, issued another decree that allowed private broadcasting in Nigeria. Dokpesi grabbed that opportunity and started DAAR Communications Plc, the first private broadcast station in Nigeria.
Dokpesi established the first indigenous shipping line in Nigeria; the first private radio station, Raypower FM, in Nigeria, to which were later added Faaji FM. He pioneered Nigeria’s first global TV, which was Africa’s first satellite TV station, and later DAARSAT; established the first TV station to run 24-hour broadcasting in Nigeria; and launched AIT signals in the United States. He was chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN) and had earlier helped in the formulation of the Nigerian Shipping Policy Act (Decree) of 1986.
Aleogho Dokpesi also has his hands in politics. One of his first political assignments was as a political campaign manager for Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, which saw Tukur into the then Gongola State government house as governor. He also assumed the same role during Alhaji Adamu Ciroma’s presidential campaign; and later Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s presidential campaign in 1993. Likewise, during Peter Odili’s presidential campaign, Dokpesi was one of the leaders of the South-South People’s Assembly (SSPA), an organisation that seeks to promote the South-South Peoples of Nigeria. In 2017, Dokpesi contested for the PDP national chairmanship position but lost gallantly to its present chairman, Mr. Uche Secondus. He was one of the few who believed in the existence of the PDP after its long-drawn internecine factionalisation and fracture.
Awards and honours
Dokpesi has received numerous local and international awards and honours to his credit and on behalf of DAAR Communications Plc, and has been conferred with several chieftaincy titles across Nigeria in appreciation of his tremendous efforts towards re-engineering Nigeria. From his hometown, he was conferred with two influential titles, the Oghierumua and Ezomo of Weppa Wanno Kingdom of Edo State. He is the Araba of Osoroland, Okpe. At the Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award ceremony in Accra, Ghana, and the Foundation for Excellence in Business Practice, Geneva, Switzerland, Dokpesi was praised for DAAR Communications’ rise to the top in African broadcasting and contributions to radio and television broadcast, all of which has placed Nigeria on the world map.
Raymond Dokpesi has built schools for communities, offered scholarships to hundreds of indigent students in tertiary institutions, installed electricity and transformers for many communities, and empowered thousands of the poor and vulnerable.
Happy birthday, Ezomo. Receive Philippians 4:7.
Here comes the female navigator: Chief Folake Solanke, San, Con
Like great historical navigators such as Christopher Columbus, Mungo Park, the Lander Brothers, Clapperton, Vasco da Gama, Marco Polo, Ferdinand Margellan, Francis Drake, Alexander the Great, and Prince Henry the Navigator, Chief Mrs. Folake Solanke, SAN, OON, CON, BA, BL, LL.D, D.Lit, is a well-respected Nigerian and international woman lawyer navigator. The first-ever female Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), this 87-year-old brain and beauty mother of law, is a renowned academician, lover of sports, public administrator of note and a social critic. Her enormous career accomplishments have anchored a personality that is audacious and resolute.
Her early life and education
Chief Folake Solanke was born in Abeokuta, in present-day Ogun State, on Tuesday, 29th March, 1932, to the illustrious family of Chief Joseph Sogboyega Odulate, otherwise known as Alabukun, of Ikorodu (a pharmacist). Her father, who invented the popular Alabukun powder, was the founder/proprietor of Alabukun Patent Medicine Store, Sapon, Abeokuta. His photograph is depicted on the popular Alabukun powder sachet, which patients consume to get instant relief from some ailments. Her mother, Madam Sekumade Abiodun Odulate, died when Chief Folake Solanke was just two years old. Though her father was a polygamist, her stepmothers were very good and caring to her.
Chief Folake Solanke attended Ago-Oko kindergarten school (1937-1939), and Emo Girls’ primary school (1940-1944), in Abeokuta. She so excelled in Emo Girls’ primary school that she was given double promotion in class. She thereafter attended Methodist Girls’ High School, Lagos (1945-1949), where she became the first student to obtain first Grade 1 in the Senior Cambridge School Certificate examination. In 1949, she became Games Captain and School Prefect, at the West Africa School Certificate Examinations that held that year. In 1950, Chief Folake did a one-year higher course in Queens’ College, then in Onikan, Lagos, before leaving for England to further her education. In 1951, she entered King’s College, University of Durham (now the University of Newscastle), in England, where she obtained her BA (2nd Division) in Latin and mathematics (1954); and Diploma in Education (2nd Division, 1955). She later joined Pipers Corner School, Great Kingshill, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England, where she taught Latin and mathematics (1955-1957). Later, Chief Solanke moved to St. Monica’s School, England, to teach the same subjects (1957 -1958). In 1960, she was admitted into Gray’s Inn, London, for her professional training and was called to Bar “in-absentia”, in 1963. That same year, Chief Solanke was enrolled as a lawyer in the Supreme Court, Lagos, Nigeria.
Chief Folake Solanke’s arrival on the national scene
Chief Folake Solanke pupilaged in the Lagos chambers of M.A. Odesanya (later honourable Justice Odesanya (August 1962 – May 1963). She later moved to the chambers of Chief FRA Williams, in Ibadan, as junior counsel (1963 – 1966). Having gathered enough experience from the above chambers, Chief Folake Solanke set up the first female law office in Ibadan, named “Alabukun Law Chambers” (in honour of her father), with overt assistance and encouragement from her husband (late Emeritus Professor Toriola Solanke), under the auspices of God’s direction.
Following her conferment with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1981, Chief Folake Solanke was installed the Yeyemofin of Ife by the late Ooni, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olobuse II. She has held many positions in various institutions and associations covering a wide spectrum of activities. Her write-ups and publications number over 100, ranging from law to women’s rights, Zonta and Christian topics.
Chief Folake Solanke achieved what was thought to be impossible, becoming the first non-Caucasian (non-white) Zonta International president (1994 – 1996).
She has received many university honorary doctorate degrees, to wit: 2007, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Doctor of Laws (LLD); 2011, Obafemi Awolowo University, Doctor of Letters (D.Litt); 2012, International Bar Association Distinguished International Woman Lawyer Award in London; 2013, University of Ibadan (Doctor of Literature, D.Litt); 2013, Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, a University (Doctor of Letters); and Fellow, the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (2011).
Chief Folake Solanke, a prolific writer, has published several books, including “The Trial of Our Lord Jesus Christ” and “The Trials of St. Paul the Apostle”. The two books received commendations from the Pope in the Holy See and the Archbishop of Canterbury in London. She also published “My Autobiography” in 2007, titled, “Reaching for the Stars”; and “ A Compendium of selected Lectures and Papers, Vol. 1”.
This iconic heroine and worthy recipient of The Sun newspaper’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” (2015), is worthy of emulation.
Today, Wednesday, December 11, 2019, the first inaugural Annual International Conference to be hosted by “The Legal Magnates International”, in honour of Solanke and Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, the first and only female Prime Minister of Canada, takes place in Lagos. This Amazon, navigator, explorer, trailblazer and pacesetter of a legal colossus will also be honoured with the presentation of a new book on her. The title is apt: “Trailblazer: Essays and Papers in Celebration of Folake Solanke, SAN, CON”.
Mummy, I wish you Genesis 6:3 and Phil 4:7.