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The capture of Dopkesi: Costs and benefits

By Umunna Anthony

WHEN former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s campaign team grabbed Ben Murray Bruce to coordinate their campaign in 1999, no one was in doubt that the team had struck gold. When it comes to putting up a show, you couldn’t ask for a better man than Ben Bruce.

He was not only a manager of show business, he could produce it. He knew the territory and he wasn’t scared or shy of the limelight; he knew the men/women and the materials for the job and how to bring them together. Bruce knew what politics wanted; put up a good show, good enough to scare the shirt off the back of your adversaries.

It is a guess that this was the brief Chief Raymond Dopkesi got from former president Ibrahim Babangida’s campaign. But one is flummoxed to understand how his brief was meant to start by scaring the shirt off the back of his own team, by alleging that he was under threat of being killed or captured!

But considered in tangible analysis, what will be the costs and benefits of killing or capturing the perceived enemies of Dokpesi and Banbangida’s team? To start with the assumed benefits, it may be said that Chief Dokpesi is an exceptional achiever in media organisational management, but so also are several big names in the industry, like the proprietors of Minaj, Silverbird, Channels and DBN.

So for every Dokpesi, there are several John Momohs, Ben Bruces and many other Nigerian men and women who have not only accomplished acclaim in managing media organisations, but have also done so within and outside Nigeria.

Again it may be thought of as a benefit that Chief Dokpesi could guarantee access to influential media role-players, but so also can many retired and serving editors, producers and directors as well as administrators of private and public media outfits. Thus for every Chief Dokpesi, there are many Peter Ighos, Ray Ekpus, Sam Amukas and many others; therefore facilitation of media access is not a regulated factor which monopoly is the sole preserve of Chief Dokpesi.

Or perhaps, it may be considered a benefit for the Babangida team, that Chief Dokpesi has insights about the potentials of ‘damn good’ copy-writers; men and women who can turn mere words into articles of faith, who can bring life to phrases and make them eat up the soul of mortals until they kneel in supplication, venerating men and concepts. But I doubt if Chief Dokpesi can lay claim to being a great copy writer. Even if he was, for one like him, the Nigerian advertising industry can churn out 12 in response.

So, to what can one attribute the claim by Chief Dokpesi that he is so vital to the media space, so much so that his indispensability will inspire groups or as he claims, the presidency, to want him very badly out of the way? To understand this better, let us examine the cost of his assumed absence and the counterfactuals if nothing was done to disturb his quest with the Babangida camp.

The cost of his assumed absence can best be assessed based on similar assumptions by arcane thinkers in power who have perpetrated such acts previously. People with similarly macabre motivations, thought that the elimination of Dele Giwa would lead to the gagging of Tell magazine, but was the journal gagged after his death? In the same sinister way, it was thought that Mrs Chris Anyawu will be gagged into oblivion or perpetual silence. Nonetheless, even though she was blinded in an eye, her spirit was not broken.

Before the aforementioned events, some tried to emasculate Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson. Despite all the harassments using the instrumentation of diktat and brute force Irabor and Thompson came out of the ordeal more committed to the profession of journalism.

And then taking the counterfactual, suppose Chief Dokpesi was left alone to flood our eyes and ears with the best qualities and characteristics of retired General Babangida, would it be sufficient to give us a collective amnesia about what we do know of his qualities?

These issues have a similar pattern of thought, characteristic of minds intent only on processing information in one dimension only; mine or no one else. This mind-set has no capacity to expand its view, to see the bigger picture beyond itself and its needs. Like a damaged psyche, every noise is a threat and every threat must be killed or eliminated, and because that is its modus operandi, it configures this into the modus vivendi of others, but it lies to itself.

A lie that it chose for itself and a choice which Chief Dokpesi, like all free agents in a democratic country is free to associate with. However, Chief Dokpesi should spare us the gory details of his nightmares. The democratic space is avid for ideas not toxic innuendos.

Dr. Umunna, a lecturer, writes from South Africa.


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