Published By:Abalijay

Gboribiogha John Jonah

Engr. Gboribiogha John Jonah is from Nembe. He was a fine Naval Officer that made his mark in the Nigeria military. For he came, he saw and he conquered. From 2012 to 2019 he was the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa state.

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Naval Officer, Deputy Governor

Gboribiogha John Jonah (born March 6, 1954) is a retired Naval Officer par excellence, an astute Marine Engineer, Politician (former Deputy Governor of Bayelsa state from 2012—2019) and Elder statesman.

Early Life/Education

Born in Kpongbokiri, a fishing settlement at the time in the Nembe Brass district of the then Eastern Nigeria (now Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa state) to the family of late Deputy Chief Jonah and predeceased Madam Dakoru who were in the fishing craft for their livelihood. His both parents had ten offspring and he is the third. He was raised in a typical village setting where his parents taught him the value of love, selfless service, hardwork, courage and absolute trust in God. At age 5, young Gboribiogha was enrolled in the Royal District Council School (RDCS) Nembe and later proceeded to the famous St. Luke’s School, where he acquired his First School Leaving Certificate in 1965.

Engr. Gboribiogha John Jonah

Thereafter, between 1969 and 1973 Gboribiogha was at the Nembe National Grammar School and became the School’s Senior Prefect for Class ‘73 where he exhibited virtue of good leadership, academic brilliance and due diligence. He was nicknamed the Burning Spear because of his demeanor; as he commanded much respect among his classmates and junior students.

Gboribiogha drank form the good waters of late Mr A. A. Abalaba as Principal of NNGS at the time. Mr A. A. Abalaba who hails from Odi community, Bayelsa state and indeed was a prolific school administrator that demands the best from his students and even tutors.

In 1973, he passed his West African Certificate Exams with Distinction (Grade One).

Some of his classmates at NNGS who also made their mark in life were: Professor Kingsley Alagoa (Former Deputy Vice Chancellor Nigeria Delta University Amassoma), Dr Boumokuma E.G. Kpokiri (MD) (Former Permanent Secretary), Mr Oye Jonathan (Former Permanent Secretary), Engr. Ayebaesin Deinagha (Former Commissioner/Lecturer), late Dr. Apiri (MD) (Former Permanent Secretary), Surveyor Wilson Omusuo (the second qualified surveyor of Bayelsa state), Late Lieutenant Commander Ayebakuro Nathan Amaino (a closet friend of his confidant) and many others.

Military Cadet

Subsequently, in 1974 he opted to join the Nigerian Military through the Nigeria Defense Academy, he was of the NDA Cadet Course 16. His brilliance found expression as he graduated from the academy in 1975 as the best Naval cadet and was a proud Silver medalist in acknowledgment of his outstanding performance that year.

Some of his cadet course mates includes: W. Ademoluti, MT Manga, MR Garba, AM Usman, GB Essien, JO Agoola, GG Mbah, SN Chikwe, JB Bamnaja, FD Akpan, and many others.

However, he proceeded to the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in England where he did the International Midshipman course 1976/77 and distinguished himself as a Marine Engineer and passed out with a First class (Academics).

Career Life

He was commissioned in July 1977 as a Sub Lieutenant. It was an attainment that was celebrated with great joy by members of the family and the entire community back home in Nembe and Port Harcourt. Afterwards, he then went to Naval College India to study Naval Engineering from 1977 to 1980 and specialized in Marine Engineering between 1981 and 1982 at the same establishment.

He also attended other courses which included both Junior and Senior Staff Courses at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji in 1986/92 where he won the Book Prize and College Tie respectively for outstanding performance.

In 2002, he attended the national Security and Strategic Studies Course at the National Defense College, New Delhi, India and was awarded the symbol ‘NDC’ where his performance was again recorded as awesome.

Appointments Held

Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd) held several strategic and very significant appointments while in service to the Nigeria Navy. Rear Admiral Goddy A. Anyankpele (rtd), whose last appointment was as Chief of Logistics at the Nigeria Navy Headquarters before his retirement in June 2016 gave a listing of some of them to include:

  • Assistant Engineering Officer, Nigerian Naval Ship (NNS) ARADU (1982-1984);
  • Gas Turbine Training Officer, Nigeria Naval Technical College (NNTTC), Port Harcourt (1984-1985);
  • Marine Engineering Officer, NNS EKUN (1985-1986);
  • Squadron Engineering Officer, Marine Counter-Measure Vessel (MCMV) Squadron (1986-1990);
  • Fleet Support Maintenance Officer, Fleet Support Group East, between 1990 and 1991;
  • Directing Staff Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), Jaji from 1992 to 1994 (then Command and staff college);
  • Chief Delegate, NNS LANA Refit at Snake Island in 1995;
  • Directing Staff, Ghana armed Forces Command and staff college (GAFCSC) Teshie, Ghana (1995 – 1997);
  • Director Projects, Naval Headquarters (1997 1998);
  • Commander, Fleet Support Group West (1998 – 2001);
  • Director Maintenance, Fleet Maintenance Corps Headquarters (2001 – 2002);
  • General Manager Production, Nigeria Naval Dockyard, 2003;
  • Directing Staff, National War College (2003 – 2004);
  • Director of Academic Research and Analytical Support (DARAS), National War College (2004 – 2005).

Suffice it to say here, he played a pivotal role in the Nigeria Navy Engineering Team that took part in the construction of the Mine Counter Measures Vessel Squadron in Italy. He served as Director of Project, at the Naval Headquarters before commanding the Fleet Support Group West in Lagos. On completion of his strategic level training and promotion to the rank of Commodore, he became the General Manager, Production at the Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island in Lagos. Admiral Jonah was also Chief of Naval Engineering at the Naval Headquarters, Abuja. His last appointment before voluntary retiring from the service in 2010 was Commandant, National Defense College, Abuja.

His Legacy

  • He provided the design and construction of the first Nigeria Naval Warship christened (NNS ADONI) in Nigeria which was commissioned in 2012.
  • Also, he remains the only Officer in Nigeria Military history to have been Daggered four times. According the Military, any recipient of the highest number of the most valued and coveted awards is ‘Dagger’. It’s remains the highest accolades in the military and Rear Admiral GJ Jonah (rtd) received that award in four places – in the Command and Staff College, Jaji; in the Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Teshie Ghana; in the national Defence College, Abuja; and lastly in its precursor the National War College, Abuja.


  • Distinguished Service Star (DSS) 2001;
  • Fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers in 2017;
  • National Honour of Office of the Order of the Niger (OON) by bestow on him by late President Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’dua;
  • President of the International Association of Peace Training Centers 2008/2009

Military Retirement

Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd) OON, DSS psc (+), fwc (+) ndc MNSE, FNSE meritoriously retired in 2010 as a Naval Rear Admiral.

Political life

After his retirement from the Navy in 2010, he went into active politics. In 2012, he was picked as running mate to Henry Seriake Dickson (now Senator) under the party platform of the People Democratic Party (PDP). His alliance with the PDP and to becoming a Deputy Governor never went down well with several quarters especially the Navy. Nevertheless, they won the elections of 2012 and 2015 respectively.

As a Deputy Governor, he was a dependable ally of the Governor and they both steered the Bayelsa ship to shore. Though it wasn’t a smooth sail for him, especially in a civilian setting and not being in charge of affairs of Bayelsa state. In this vein, he was helpless in taking laudable and drastic decisions that would have taken Bayelsa state to the promised land. Therefore, Infrastructure wise the restoration government whom he served didn’t achieve much, but nonetheless he gave the government a human face.

In 2019, he thought it wise to run for the office of Governor after serving the state for eight years as Deputy Governor. He contested the party primaries and lost to Senator Douye Diri.

His Excellency, Gboribiogha John Jonah is currently the Chairman Bayelsa state Elders Forum and he is living a peacefully in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state.


He is married to Mrs Seleipre Jonah (nee Bonnie), a Nembe woman and they have five children together.


He was a staunch member of the Anglican faith before he embraced the Pentecostal faith. Gboribiogha John Jonah is a devout member of Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries (MFM)

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"Timeless Persons" is a personal blog project created by me with the aim of sharing the biographies of remarkable individuals from the Niger Delta region and beyond. The blog serves as a platform to captivate and stimulate your thoughts, encouraging reflection on the past, fostering a positive mindset in the present, and inspiring hope for a better future.