By Eseoghene Emuke
As more tributes continue to pour in for the passage of the former military governor of the Mid Western State, General (Olorogun) David Akpode Ejoor, a former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori has revealed what the late octogenarian told him when he returned from London where he was imprisoned for alleged fraud.
Ibori, who eulogised the former Chief of Army Staff for his fatherly figure to him, said upon his return, Ejoor paid him a visit where he told him that he was happy to be alive when the former governor returned to the country.
The former governor made this revelation in a statement signed by his Media Assistant, Tony Eluemunor, on Monday saying that Gen. David Ejoor’s life should be a guiding compass for his indelible contributions to the unity and development of Nigeria.
Ejoor, a former military administrator and one time President General of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) died on Sunday at the age of 87 years in Lagos.
Ibori in the tribute said he would never forget the visit of the retired military officer to his home in Oghara to congratulate him on his return from London, adding “I will ever remain grateful to Pa Ejoor for his kind support for me all through my political travails. His messages to me in London always uplifted my spirit.
“But what I will never forget for as long as I will live is his visit to me at Oghara, on my return from London. There he was, a grand and wizened old man, his walking stick in hand, his frail figure being upheld by aides, at my door, an unforgettable smile beaming on his face; saying ‘welcome home my son.’ I could hardly talk. I just stared at this father-figure whom I had studied in my primary school history lessons.
“It was almost too much for me to bear; I told him with all the sense of humility I could muster that I was the one who owed him a visit. He blessed me and explained that he came to express his happiness that he was alive to witness my return because he knew why I was ‘persecuted.’”
While expressing deep sadness over the passage, Ibori stressed that Ejoor’s demise was a big blow to Urhobo Nation and Nigeria for his huge contributions to nation building all through his years as a military man and in retirement.
“The late “Pa Ejoor”, as he was popularly called, was gracious enough to allow me easy access anytime I had the need to see him. He advised me regularly during my time as Delta state Governor. He pointed out the intricacies of administering a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual state like Delta and always advised me to embrace the middle course in all things.
“This is because for decades, Gen. Ejoor had remained one of the few repositories of wisdom that remained in Nigeria. Any word that escaped from his lips was well-weighed out and was calculated to uplift individuals, communities, the Niger Delta or the country”.
“Gen. Ejoor was a shining light to the Urhobo nation, the Edo and Delta states, the Niger Delta and the entire Nigeria.Chief Ibori consoled Gen. Ejoor’s family the Urhobo Progressive Union and the Government and people of Delta State over the transition of the venerable and highly regarded officer and gentleman”, Ibori, who was governor of Delta State between 1999-2007 added.
He, however, prayed to God to grant the soul of the departed eternal rest and the family the fortitude to bear loss.