Friday, February 3Nigeria's Authoritative Maritime News Magazine
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MARITIME LIVING LEGEND OF THE WEEK: Admiral Festus Porbeni (Rtd) mni, cfr


Perhaps, it’s about time we fit in the word AWESOME as his middle name.
Rear Admiral Festus Porbeni is by all historical account one of the foremost  retired Nigerian Military General, who has not shown any trace of tiredness and is still solidly active in nation building part of which is the mentoring of youths and creating opportunities for their dreams and career.

A professional navigator and diver, boardroom player, ambassador and human capital builder, Rear Admiral Porbeni was born May 28, 1946 at Abari, Delta State.
After his primary and secondary education which ended at two most prestigious colleges of that time, Hussy College Warri and Government College Ughelli, between 196-64 and 1965-66, respectively, the young Porbeni enlisted in the Nigerian Military in 1967.

He trained at the Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna between 1966 -69, and proceeded thereafter to the Sub-Lieutenant Technical Course Institute, Venderthy Cochia, India 1970-71. In 1972 he underwent Deep Sea Diving Course in Port Harcourt, followed by a Seamanship Course at the Royal Navy Seamanship School, Portsmouth, England in 1973. Brilliant, dreamy and strong, the awesome young Porbeni, proceeded yet again to India for his Navigation Specialist Course 1974-75, where he came out in flying colours.  To cap his military training, he attended the Command Staff College Jaji 1979-80.

Festus Porbeni bagged his first appointment as Executive Officer, NNS Enugu in 1971 and by 1974 he was appointed Commanding Officer NNS Argungun. As though destined to live a career in the navy, the wind was steadily on his sail as he rose in an undulating but steady storm in various formations of the Nigerian Navy.  

By 1976 he was redeployed as Pioneer Officer in-charge of Naval Training School, Port Harcourt; in 1977 and 1978 he became Navigational Officer and First Lieutenant, NNS Obuma and Commanding Officer, NNS Ruwan Yaro, respectively.
Like a wind, he moved on same year to become Executive Officer, NNS Akaso after which he was appointed Flotilla Operations Officer in 1979. From there he served as Pioneer Base Commander, Naval College Onne, Port Harcourt in 1980, and quickly gravitated to Naval Headquarters, as Director of Naval Operations same year. By 1982 Porbeni has become Staff Officer 1, Director of Training and Personnel, Defence Headquarters, Lagos.   

Like a shark exploring the deep blue waters, he moved on same year to become Commanding Officer, NNS Ekpe and Squadron Commander Patrol 4. A child of destiny, Porbeni was appointed pioneer Defence Adviser Malabo Equatorial Guinea 1983-86; and thereafter was appointed Nigerian Ambassador to the same country. His ambassadorial duty lasted until 1989 when he was recalled and deployed as Commander of Naval College, Onne in 1989. To cap his naval career, Porbeni commanded NNS ARADU, Nigeria’s naval ship and one of the colourful and biggest prides in her fleet at the time.

He was also appointed Minister of Transport 1998-99, after which he  retired in 1999 at the turn of military transition to civilian rule, after years of meritorious service to fatherland  in the navy and politics.
Still very agile and industrious, Porbeni is presently an Honourary Consul of Romania to the Niger Delta. He has invested in the corporate world and sits on the board of a number of corporate blue chips. He is also into private venture in the maritime, oil and gas, with special interest in navigation and pollution management.
Porbeni is President of Nigeria Rowing, Sailing and Canoeing Federation and Vice President of the Confederation of African Canoeing. He is a member of the Nautical Institute of London, Member National Decoration: Forces Staff Medal; Foreign Decoration: Medal of Equatorial Guinea Military Merit of the Second Class, 1986….Asu Beks