Rear Admiral Ayodeji Olugbode: Charting Course as Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy, NHS President 

Rear Admiral Ayodeji Olugbode: Charting Course as Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy, NHS President 

Rear Admiral Ayodeji Olumide Olugbode  doubles as the Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy as well as the President, Nigerian Hydrographic Society, NHS. With double Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Hydrography and double Masters in Hydrography and Strategic Studies, the senior officer also boasts of key skills in strategic leadership, digital transformation and change management. Upon assumption of office in June 2023, THISDAYchecks by Chiemelie Ezeobi reveal

 that he has been improving Nigeria’s hydrographic capacity for improved maritime safety and security towards enhancing Nigeria’s national economic growth and prosperity 

Rear Admiral Ayodeji Olumide Olugbode is the Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy (NN) as well as the President, Nigerian Hydrographic Society (NHS).

Since assumption of office as the Hydrographer of the NN from July 8, 2023 till date, a position he took over from Rear Admiral Emeka Okafor (Rtd.), the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office (NNHO) has remained fully committed to the conduct and coordination of hydrographic operations in Nigeria, as well as collaboration with other maritime stakeholders in support of navigational safety, maritime security and sustainable economic development of Nigeria.

Under his watch too, the NHS has gone beyond working underground to being visible with a view to become more proactive in  hydrographic advocacy in Nigeria and within the wider Gulf of Guinea (GoG) sub-Region.

Just recently, it was revealed that the NNHO has contributed 85,385 km2 of bathymetric data to the Nippon Foundation – GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project as part of its commitment to the global endeavour to achieve a complete map of the ocean floor. This data submission is the first from an African country and covers an area in the GoG G nearly the size of Jordan.

Passion for Hydrography

Beyond his passion for Hydrography, the senior officer has backed this up with the requisite knowledge. With a combination of experiences as a Seaman, hydrographic surveyor, strategic studies researcher, oceans laws and policy Rhodes scholar, this has come to bear in his day-to-day activities charting the course of Hydrography not just for the Nigerian Navy but the nation at large. 

 The Hydrospatial Advocate, who has been a Member, International Hydrographic Organisation, Capacity Building Sub-Committee from January 2009 till date, has conducted several Hydrography surveys and they include theBathymetric Survey on Plymouth Sound, UK and Bathymetric/Oceanography Survey on Tamar River, both as UK Undergraduate Studies. 

He also did the Bathymetric Survey of  Bonny River; Commander Pool – Lagos Harbour Entrance; Geophysical and Bathymetric Survey of Landfall for pipeline – Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lagos.

To his credit too, he is professionally affiliated as Member to the Royal Institute of Navigation, International Federation of Hydrographic Societies, and Nigerian Hydrographic Society. 

Optimising Marine, Blue Economy 

As one of the firm believers in Blue Economy, Rear Admiral Olugbode has backed words with action. Just last year, the NNHO actively participated at the Roundtable on Advancing Sustainable Development in Nigeria’s Marine and Blue Economy hosted by the Honourable Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola.

During the retreat, he presented the National Charting Scheme for Nigeria and highlighted other activities of NNHO geared towards the advancement of Nigeria’s blue economy.

Not done, he has often clamoured for 

optimisation of Nigeria’s blue economy potentials. This he reiterated while conferring with members of the society in a seminal gathering aimed at advancing the hydrography profession in the country, in September last year. 

Part of the interactions were centered on ways and means to deepen multidimensional collaboration within hydrography professional clusters and cohorts towards enabling the full optimisation of the blue economy potentials of the country.

In another gathering last year, which was the maiden dinner organised by Nigeria Alumni of World Maritime University (WMU), in Lagos, the senior officer opined that to harness the Blue Economy, maritime experts and policymakers need to set up a think-tank forum as they have huge roles to play in policy direction for the government in exploring the untapped resources in Nigeria’s maritime sector.

In November 2023, Rear Admiral Olugbode with Rear Admiral AA Mustapha visited the Italian Navy Hydrography Institute (IIM) at Genoa, Italy in fulfilment of the Italian and Nigerian Armed Forces Bilateral Cooperation Plan signed in Rome on  November 9, 2023, which was in tandem with NN’s commitment to fully operationalise the Nigerian Hydrographic Agency as well as Nigeria’s blue economy aspirations.

Strengthening Collaborations

One of his strategic guidance has been on the import of collaborations. One of such advancements was strengthening the hydrographic ties pertaining to capacity building, as well as Research and Development (R&D) with University of Lagos (UNILAG).

Also, in November 2023, the senior officer and team hosted a delegation from Shell Companies in Nigeria (SCIN) at the NNHO. 

In furtherance of the NNHO’s commitment to ocean science and capacity-building, NNHO recently held talks with Professor Kanna Rajan of RAND Corporation and Dr Ngozi Oguguah, the Chief Research Officer at the National Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research in January 2024 to involve a team of distinguished international scientists and researchers to conduct oceanographic surveys in the Gulf of Guinea and develop capacity of West African ocean scientists. 

The research surveys aim to address ocean data shortage in the Gulf of Guinea and improve understanding of oceanographic phenomena such as upwelling and marine heat wave as well as the scientific impacts of climate change on marine biodiversity.

This January, the NNHO hosted a delegation from Starfix Geosolutions led by its Managing Director of Starfix Geosolutions, Mr Bankole Falaye to discuss collaboration to deliver advanced hydrographic training to industry practitioners so as to address the address the acute shortage of qualified and competent professionals in the Nigerian hydrographic industry.

Also in January, the NNHO led by Rear Admiral Olugbode, paid a courtesy visit to West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCO) Limited to engage on key areas of collaboration including data sharing and operational synergy in ensuring the entire length of the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) and its Pipeline Protection Zone (PPZ) are accurately depicted on NNHO navigational products.

With an avid interest in fishing, the senior officer through the NHS sponsored the Hydrographer’s Fishing Competition last November, which was organised by the Apapa Boat Club to promote aqua tourism/aqua culture and raise awareness of the importance of sustainable fishing to coastal livelihood, recreation and the economy.

Education and Qualifications

Taking a trip down memory lane to what makes him tick. It was gathered that the senior officer had in 1993 obtained a B.Sc, Physics from the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna and in 2005, took it further with a Bachelor’s Degree in Hydrography from University of Plymouth, UK. 

In 2010, he obtained a Diploma in Oceans Law and Policy from Rhodes Ocean Scholar, University of Virginia School of Law, USA. In 2015, he bagged a Masters Degree in Hydrography from the  University of Plymouth, UK and in 

2018, he topped it up with another Masters in Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Career Laurels

Laurel wise, Rear Admiral Olugbode has bagged several commendations and awards including the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Commendation letter as Chairman of draft National Maritime Security Strategy (NMSS 2023), Brazilian Government Prize for Best Research Paper in Science and Technology in 2017 at National Defence College, Nigeria.

Also to his credit is the Robert Maine Award for Best Undergraduate Ex Seafarer (2005), University of Plymouth, UK; and Third in Order of Merit Graduating Student, Junior Division Course (2002) – Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Nigeria.

Professional Development

As one who strongly believes in professional development, Rear Admiral Olugbode has obtained several certificates in that regard. 

In 1995, he obtained the Sub-Technical Course, QUORRA, Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria and in 2002, was the Junior Staff Course, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna, Nigeria while in 2007, it was the Senior Staff Course, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna, Nigeria.

In 2013, Defence Attaché Module, Geneva Center for Security Policy, Geneva, Switzerland as well as the Joint Management & Intelligence Attache Course (JMAC)-Defense Intelligence College, Karu, Abuja, Nigeria was added to his professional development. 

In 2016 and 2017, he bagged the Senior Executive Course, National & International Security, Harvard Kennedy School, USA and the Fellow Higher Defence and Strategic Studies Course, National Defence College, Abuja, Nigeria, respectively.

While in 2020 it was the Senior Executive Course, Strategic Leadership in a Dynamic World, Harvard Kennedy School, USA, 2021 saw him attaining the 

Company Direction Course II – Building Effective Boards (CDC II), Institute of Directors, Nigeria; and Company Direction Course 1 – Building Effective Directors (CDC I), Institute of Directors, Nigeria. 

In 2022, he was in Senior Managers in Government, Harvard Kennedy School, USA;  Independent Directors Masterclass (IDM), Institute of Directors, Nigeria, as well as Company Direction Course III- Building Future Ready Boards (CDC III), Institute of Directors, Nigeria.

In 2023, he was in the Senior Executives Programme – Africa 2023 – Harvard Business School, Harvard University, USA; Oxford Executive Leadership Programme 2023 – Saïd Business School-University of Oxford, UK; and 2023-Negotiation Strategies: Building Agreement Across Boundaries, Harvard Kennedy School, USA. Also in 2023, he was in Leading through the Changing Media Landscape, Harvard Kennedy School, USA. 


As expected, the senior officer has occupied various positions in his meritorious career trajectory. He was once the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Admiralty Maritime Services Limited (AMSL) Nigeria; Deputy Commandant, Naval War College Nigeria; and Director of Academic Research and Analytical Support (DARAS), National Defence College, Nigeria.

He was also the Director of Curriculum and Programmes Development (DCPD), National Defence College Nigeria; Directing Staff (Faculty Member), National Defence College Nigeria. Director of Information, Naval Headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria; and Assistant Director Transformation (Civil Military Relations), Naval Headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria. 

Others include Nigerian Defence Adviser to India with concurrent accreditation to Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore and South Korea (2013-2016); Assistant Director Policy, Naval Headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria; Executive Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship OBULA; Head of Hydrographic Survey Services, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency; and Staff Officer II and I (Hydrography), Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office. 

He was once an Instructor – Tides, Geodesy and Afloat Survey and Chief Instructor, both in the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic School, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He was also on Watch Keeping Duties, Nigerian Navy Ship ARADU; Staff Officer III (Operations), Naval Headquarters; Aide-de-Camp, Military Administrator, Bayelsa State; Watch Keeping Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship AYAM; and Watch Keeping Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship SIRI.

With the unflinching support of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ikechukwu Ogalla, who is also enthused with Hydrography, Rear Admiral  Ayodeji Olumide Olugbode is not just passionate about improving Nigeria’s hydrographic capacity for improved maritime safety and security, but has also set in motion several measures towards enhancing Nigeria’s national economic growth and prosperity through the riches and abundance of the oceans. 

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