It is not clear where these three former news makers are at the moment as ELEOJO IDACHABA asks in this piece.
Bongos Ikwue is certainly one of Nigeria’s finest surviving music icons whose style of music has continued to attract both the young and old. A living legend, he made his entrant into the music scene at an early age while studying in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. His country-style-kind of music is such that equates him with Don William especially with the deep, base voice with which he renders his music. The phenomenon called Bongos Ikwue, according to Idibia Ojabo, a writer, is singularly significant and unprecedented as to virtually defy any known comparison. “With such a voice that has character and can command any song, Bongos Ikwue is a musical genre in his own right. With real music that always had something to say, Bongos’ songs are borne out of struggle that moved forward the whole time so that people can be in tune with reality. The generosity of his spirit and songs is the cornerstone of what he has done and may still be doing for the betterment of mankind and the society. Bongos’ records are a diary of all the important statements that reflect his belief. He not just talks moral, but lives it and this galvanises his fans.” While marking his 75 birthday celebration a few years back, it was widely reported that this country music crooner who never believed in any religion was said to have embraced Christianity in Otukpo, his home town, and changed his name to Evangelist Ebenezer Bongos Ikwue. Confirming the development, a preacher in Makurdi, Abel Uloko, said, “This is the turning point. Ten days ago in the company of my wife, we joined hundreds other people in a thanksgiving service in honour of Dr Bongos Ikwue as he turned his heart over to the Lord. My joy knew no bounds as the Methodist Arch Bishop of Otukpo Diocese, Most Rev Oliver, commissioned him as an evangelist with a new name, Ebenezer. Interestingly, when I took to the stage to address the congregation at the reception and recount my 23-year-old relationship with him, he corrected me when I addressed him as Dr Ebenezer Bongos Ikwue; he charged at me for omitting his Ecclesiastical title. I had to address him correctly as Evangelist Ebenezer Bongos Ikwue. God is still in the business of changing lives and calling men to Himself. Friends, do not give up on anybody. It took 23 years after I preached Jesus to him for him to come to repentance,” he said. Among his hit tracks are Mariama in Tear Drops; Otachikpokpo; Cock Crow at Dawn; Amen, and Still Searching. An account of his life cannot be complete without a peep into one of his songs titled Mariama which many alluded to the amorous relationship he had with the late Mariam Babangida, wife of the former Nigerian leader, a fact he denied severally, saying he never had any romantic relationship with her. As a matter of fact, he said he only met her once in his life. Ojabo said further, “By and large, Bongos’ quiet, peaceful, productive life, a respectable life and most importantly God-honouring life brought him fame, wealth and a healthy life. Each record of his records is a reminder that the paths Bongos explored were unknown then and even today, remains something of a mystery for most people.” During his 75 birthday, he vowed to continue in music till his last moment on earth, but it’s not clear where or what he is doing currently.
Navy Captain Temi Ejoor (retd.) is one of the military administrators (MILAD) that served in the administration of late Gen. Sani Abacha. He was the administrator of Enugu state from December 1993 to September 1994, before he was moved to Abia state, where he served in the same capacity until August 1996. This Delta state-born former naval officer, while serving in Enugu, was said to have descended heavily on civil servants of Nsukka extraction in the state pay roll on the ground that they were engaged through the back door by former governor Okwesilieze Nwodo, who is also from the same area. This move, no doubt, sent bad blood into the running of that government under him. As administrator in Abia state, he won himself a ridiculous nickname of ‘where my own,’ an aphorism that meant he must collect his own pecks of gratification form any project to be executed in the state. Writing in A Culture of Corruption a book on politics in Nigeria, the author, Daniel Jordan Smith, an expatriate, said of Ejoor, “During Abacha’s rule, one of the MILADS in Abia state where I was living was a Navy Captain named Temi Ejoor. Ejoor quickly earned the nickname ‘where my own’ among the locals because of his reported penchant for asking this question with regards to any proposed state government project. He was only interested, people said, in collecting his own share. If you could assure him that he would get his own large cut of the money involved, he would likely approve the project. During his administration, people in the town of Umuahia commonly used the same aphorism of ‘where my own’ to each other both in situations when they actually hoped to be given a share of something and as a joke that there was nothing really for them to share because the military had taken all. That was the legacy left behind by Ejoor.” Since this former naval officer left office, nothing has been heard of him again.
Rear Admiral Samuel Bitrus Atukum (retd.) is the former military governor of old Plateau state between 1984 and 1985 under the administration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as head of state. To date, he is someone said to be close to now President Buhari because of the relationship they had shared from the past, but since the present administration was inaugurated in 2015, he has not been visible. As military governor in Plateau, he was confronted with many challenges especially of lean resources that were prevalent in the country then. That was not a surprise because the period was when Nigeria went through what was called Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) leading to take over of power by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in August 1985. To cushion the effect, he introduced community and cattle tax in order to augment the finances of the state. He also sold off all Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot 505 official cars in the government fleet and replaced them with less expensive Peugeot 504 cars. That was not all; he went ahead and banned after-hours use of government vehicles by civil servants in order to save fuel. Furthermore, in August 1985, he proposed that Labour unions should accept a 20% cut in salary in view of the state’s financial difficulties. Finally, he merged Plateau Television (PTV) and Plateau Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) into the Plateau Radio Television Corporation. Atukum expressed concerns over what he called the use of non-indigenes and indigenes, saying it causes disharmony among people in the state. In 1985 he declared that anybody who harboured illegal immigrants after the May 10 departure deadline set aside by the military government would be treated as a saboteur. Analysts say that was when the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) was not a mere slogan. While launching a state-wide tree-planting campaign in 1984, he said 70,000 hectares of valuable farmland were lost to illegal mining activities in the state; therefore, called on the federal government for assistance in the conservation and reclamation of eroded lands. Not much has been heard about this man again.