Oraka-Onojeje, who hails from Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, became the first Black woman to attain such rank in the US Navy on July 1.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary Olisa Ifeajika, on Sunday in Asaba, Okowa described her as an energetic, result-driven and highly motivated officer who possessed the requisite experience for her new role and had done the state proud.
“Over the years, Oraka-Onojeje has, by dint of hard work and discipline, established herself as a team player, which has endeared her to various ship mates in the US Navy,” the statement said.
The governor also expressed appreciation to the US Naval authorities for finding Oraka-Onojeje worthy of promotion to the rank of commander.
Friends and other Nigerians have also congratulated her for achieving this feat. Among them is a former schoolmate as an undergraduate Njideka Anyanwu, who described her as a very brilliant officer.
“Very proud of her. She was my schoolmate in University of Port Harcourt where she also excelled in her undergraduate studies,” Anyanwu wrote on her Linkedin wall.
Ife Sinachi Ugwuonye wrote: “Congratulations to commander Hetty. A true friend and schoolmate (Uniport). We are so very proud of her. Most of all, she is a very kind human being. Congratulations my dear friend and sister. More successes.”
A U.S. Navy Veteran Carol Ransom, who served with Oraka-Onojeje in Washington DC, also expressed delight at her promotion.
“Congratulations ma’am! I am very happy about your promotion,” she said.
Prior to her latest appointment, Oraka-Onojeje had served as lead recruiter at the U.S. Navy Recruiting Command where she provided expert technical advice, guidance and recommendations on critical human resource programmes.
In April, another Nigerian Kelechi Ndukwe became the first black to be appointed commander of a U.S. Navy ship, USS Halsey (DDG-97), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.