Although when Seriake Dickson chose him to be his running mate in 2012, retired Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah, OON, was regarded by many observers as being a political neophyte his performance as Deputy Governor over the last four years has proven the choice to have been highly appropriate.
The accomplished Naval Engineer whose illustrious career in the military had seen him rise to become the Commandant of the National Defence College (Nigeria’s highly rated War College) in Abuja, before his voluntary retirement, has been a calm and steady lieutenant to the outspoken and sometimes volatile Governor who, though he is his junior in age, is certainly far more experienced than him in partisan politicking.
Some analysts have suggested that the selection of Jonah had actually been predicated precisely on the presumption that he would lend an air of maturity and technocratic experience to the ticket. However some observers expressed the fear that Governor Dickson’s well-known penchant for radical and swift action would clash with his Deputy’s more cautious style.
Instead the working relationship between them has proven to be highly complementary and harmonious and has led to a situation where Admiral Jonah is being regarded today as an important asset for the PDP and Governor Dickson as they face a bruising contest for re-election this weekend.
While Admiral Jonah’s importance to the ticket is enhanced by his communal origin this is not the key factor that renders his presence on it a welcome and supportive asset. He is from Nembe in the Eastern Senatorial District, which is also the home constituency of the APC challenger Chief Timipre Sylva, and as a respected elder from that coastal oil-bearing region he can mobilise profound traditional respect.
However, beyond that he is also one of the state’s most qualified technocrats with a profound reputation for competence and visionary administrative capabilities. Admiral Jonah brings a history of extraordinary professional successes in his military career to his new political career. He graduated from his initial Cadet course as the Best Naval Cadet in 1975. He gained a First Class at the Britannia Royal College, Dartmouth, in the UK, where he undertook the Internal Midshipman Course in 1976/77. When he proceeded to India for further studies his record was equally brilliant.
His rise in rank throughout his service reflected the academic brilliance of his early training as he proved to be a superb manager of men and materiel. Admiral Jonah showed himself to be a historic visionary when he conceptualised and supervised the construction of the first locally produced warship the NNS Andoni. With this illustrious background as the foundation on which to build his collaboration with the Governor, Admiral Jonah is being touted as one of the best reasons why the voters in Bayelsa should consider returning the PDP ticket to office this weekend.