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TRIBUTE: WHEN THE LIGHT DIMS ON REAR ADMIRAL PETER EBHALEME (RTD).

A FINE OFFICER AND GENTLEMAN

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BY PROF. MIKE OZEKHOME, SAN, CON, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D, D.Litt, D.Sc, DA.

 

In the annals of military accomplishment, courage, dedication, and altruistic service to the nation, the name of Rear Admiral Peter Ebhaleme (Rtd) stands tall, as a beacon of unwavering commitment and exemplary leadership. As we pay tribute to the passage of this distinguished officer, we reflect not only on his remarkable career, but also on the indelible mark he left in the hearts and minds of all who had the privilege of knowing him, or crossing his path. He has gone – gone from this sinful world – but he lives with us in our hearts.The Rear Admiral who was born in 1948 attended the Nigeria Military School, Zaria; the Nigeria Defence Academy, Kaduna; and the Britannia Royal Navy College, England. He later attended the University of Lagos in 1990, where he bagged the LL.B (Hons) degree. He did not rest on his oars in his crave for knowledge and education. Ebhaleme went ahead to the Nigerian Law School which he passed and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1995. As a military officer, he held several command and staff positions. He started as a Commanding Officer NNS in Enugu 1994; Gunnery officer NNS Dorina in 1995. He later rose to become Chief of Administration, Defence Headquarters between 2001 and 2002. He topped it when he rose to the position of Chairman. The Admiral retired honourably from the Nigerian Navy in 2003 after a distinguished military career. The Admiral’s journey is one marked by uncommon dedication to duty, exemplary service and profound contributions to his nation and the international maritime community. Throughout his illustrious career, Rear Admiral Ebhaleme consistently demonstrated an exceptional blend of strategic vision, tactical prowess and unwavering commitment to excellence. As a naval officer, Ebhaleme rose through the ranks with distinction, exhibiting exceptional leadership qualities at every turn. His tenure saw him undertake a myriad of critical roles, from commanding naval vessels, to overseeing complex maritime operations, all with a steadfast focus on safeguarding Nigeria’s maritime interests and promoting regional security.Rear Admiral Ebhaleme’s legacy extends far beyond his military service. His visionary leadership played a pivotal role in shaping the Nigerian Navy’s capabilities, modernizing its fleet and enhancing its operational use and effectiveness. Under his guidance, the Nigerian Navy expanded its footprint in combating maritime threats, including piracy, illegal fishing, bunkering and smuggling, thereby contributing to the stability and prosperity of the Gulf of Guinea region.Ebhaleme’s influence transcended national borders, as he actively engaged in collaborative efforts with regional and international partners to address common maritime challenges. His diplomatic acumen and strategic foresight were instrumental in fostering meaningful partnerships for greater maritime security cooperation across the African continent and beyond.Beyond his professional achievements, late Rear Admiral Ebhaleme is respected for his character, integrity, humility and compassion. At his 70th birthday and book launch on the 28th day of July, 2018, former Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo described him as a man with the spirit of God and whose Counsel has always been right. Osinbajo scored the bull’s eye. Ebhaleme spoke truth and was a man of honour. He was a mentor and role model to countless young officers, inspiring them to uphold the highest ideals and standards of professionalism and ethical conduct. His selfless dedication to duty and unflagging commitment to the welfare of his subordinates earned him the respect and admiration of all who had the privilege of serving under his command. Surely, Woodrow Wilson, former American president, was right when he declared, “if you lose your wealth, you have lost nothing; if you lose your health, you have lost something; but if you lose your character, you have lost everything”. Till death, Ebhaleme never lost his character. So, by dying, he has lost nothing. He has merely transformed from the physical to the spiritual; – from the terrestrial to the celestial; from mortality to immortality. As we reflect on Rear Admiral Peter Ebhaleme’s remarkable journey through life, let us join hands to pay tribute to a fine officer and gentleman; a total family man and a conscientious Esan, Edo State Elder Statesman and true maritime pioneer, whose indelible legacy will continue to inspire generations of naval officers and maritime leaders. His profound impact on the Nigerian Navy and the broader maritime community serves as a testament to his enduring legacy of service, industry, honour, dignity and excellence. May Admiral Ebhaleme’s contributions never be forgotten; and may his spirit continue to guide and inspire us in the pursuit of a safer, more secure maritime environment for all. Amen.

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