By Ayo Onikoyi
The man who claims to be the first Ijaw gospel musician in the whole of Ijaw land, Pastor Bannerman Timitula Embiowei, simply known as Bannerman, stormed the Vanguard office on Wednesday, to express his displeasure with the way Ijaw people ignore their own. The visibly agitated 65 year-old musician declares that no Ijaw musician has made it in Ijaw land unless they move to Lagos.
“The Ijaws are not helping me at all, they sing and dance to my songs but no one has ever thought of helping me with a platform. I have been encouraging myself, walking from one place to the other, pleading with people to help me. They want to watch me die with my songs, that is why I’m crying out now. Ijaws have talent but there is no encouragement. Before Timaya and the likes became famous they had to leave Ijaw land to go to Lagos.
I cannot leave my pastoral work in Ijaw land to go to Lagos because of music. If you take an Ijaw song to Alaba market they won’t market it for you, they will say the market is small forgetting that Ijaw have the fourth largest population in Nigeria. We spread to Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa and that is a good market.
We are over 16 million but our own people have not decided to invest in that area. You know when they invest in that area, they are not only making money, they are providing job opportunities and when a lot of people see how successful it is they will dump militancy and focus on utilizing their talents.
In Yoruba land, people like Ayefele didn’t become stars on their own; they were encouraged by their people. The Igbos also do the same but Ijaw people don’t like themselves. I have produced nine albums with eight songs in each of them.
I sing in English, Ijaw and Yoruba, I have a Yoruba song ‘Moti Bo Loko Eru’. I get songs through inspiration from the heavens; I don’t just sit and write songs. I have a lot to offer but there is no platform and encouragement. I must not die with this talent,” he declared.
Defending the claim that he’s the first Ijaw gospel singer in Ijaw land, Bannerman said, “ I started singing in the year 1984, my first album was recorded at Delta Studio in 1985 and it was titled ‘Precious Blood.
The second one was titled ‘Lovely Day’, it was released in 1986. When I started singing in 1984 there was nobody doing the same. Nobody sang pure Ijaw songs and people that were singing at that time were singing only worldly songs. A lot of people have been using my songs in their works and I’m still waxing strong.”