THE death of the Military Governor of the defunct Mid-Western Region and one-time Chief of Army Staff, Major General David Akpode Ejoor, represents a further depletion of Nigeria’s first generation military officers who were active participants in the events that shaped the country’s slowly evolving nationhood.
Born on January 10, 1932, Ejoor who hailed from Ovwor in Olomu Kingdom, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, was the first Nigerian Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, and the first Urhobo to attain the position of a Major-General in the Nigerian military.
Ejoor was a quintessential patriot, given the heroic role he played during the Civil War to help keep Nigeria one. Ejoor, a Lieutenant Colonel and Commander of the Army Battalion in Enugu, played a major role in neutralising the first military coup of January 15, 1966 which truncated the First Republic.
Thereafter, Ejoor was appointed the Military Governor of the then Midwest Region and a member of the Supreme Military Council, SMC. But it was not long after this that a counter-coup took place, triggering off volatile events that eventually sparked the Nigerian Civil War.
As Governor of the Mid-West which was a vortex of hostilities in the early stages of the war, Ejoor demonstrated acts of courage and loyalty to the Federal Government to the delight and approval of the Federal authorities in Lagos.
Before he enlisted in the Nigeria Army on November 13, 1953, Ejoor worked for four months as a civil servant in the Customs and Excise Department. His early military training took him from Nigeria through Ghana, then to Eaton Hall in the United Kingdom and the prestigious Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
He graduated from Sandhurst in July 1956, and returned to Nigeria a year later as a Lieutenant. He served in Kaduna and Ibadan between 1957 and 1959, and was given the job of securing Nigeria’s border with Cameroon. And remarkably at the dawn of Independence in 1960, Ejoor who had been promoted to the rank of Captain had the historic duty of commanding the Army Guard.
From December 1960 to July 1961, Ejoor served as a member of the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in the Congo where he earned commendations and promotion to the rank of Major on account of his outstanding military exploits. He was also credited with designing the Nigerian Army cap badge and rank insignias on his return to the country.
Major-General Ejoor would certainly be remembered for serving his country and its people diligently. In retirement, he lived a quiet life in Warri, Delta State as a community leader. He died on February 10, 2019 and was buried on Friday, May 3, 2019. May his soul rest in peace.