PROFILE OF DR. GOODLUCK JONATHAN
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s meteoric rise look peaked when he was sworn in as Nigeria President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces in year 2010, after the demise of President Umar Musa Yar’adua, who he served as Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, between 2007 and 2010.
In keeping with his name – Goodluck – he is sometimes regarded as one of the luckiest men in Nigerian politics. Goodluck Jonathan having announced his presence in the national political landscape in by rising rapidly from his post as Deputy Governor of the oil-rich state of Bayelsa in 1999, Jonathan, became Governor of the state, from where he was nominated as Vice Presidential candidate of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2006.
After a landslide victory at the polls, he was sworn in 29 May 2007 as Vice President to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He held on to that position until 9 Februry, 2009, when he was endorsed by the National Assembly as Acting President to fill the vacuum left behind by Yar’Adua’s abrupt trip abroad for medical checkup to douse the rising tension in the country.
His recent victory over former Vice-President and former Presidential Candidate of the Action Congress in 2007 general elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, picked as the consensus candidate of the North for 2011 general elections in Nigeria was an icing to the cake of Goodluck Jonathan rising political profile.
Goodluck Jonathan was born on 20 November, 1957, to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Ebele Jonathan, a family of canoe makers, in Otueke, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and was amply endowed with intelligence, strength and tact right from childhood, even though his parents were of a humble social background.
Young Goodluck started his primary education at St. Stephen Primary School (now State School – Otuoke) and later proceeded to St Michael Primary School – Oloibiri where he passed his First School Leaving Certificate. In 1971, the young lad furthered his studies at Mater Dei High School – Imiringi and sat for the West African School Certificate in 1975 and passed with flying colours.
Goodluck Jonathan was identified to be a great child right from his tender age because of his attributes and rare disposition. No wonder, his paternal grandmother “nicknamed” him “Azikiwe” as a striking simile to the great Zik to connote another great Nigerian to come in the nearest future.
In his secondary school days, Goodluck was appointed Class Prefect in class three in 1973, and later made Secretary to the School Food Committee, because of his brilliant disposition. And in his class four and five, he was again appointed Masterson House Prefect while his fellow prefects unanimously elected him as Chairman of the Committee of Prefects.
With his sparkling performance and enduring milieu, young Goodluck soon secured a job as a Preventive Officer in the Department of Customs and Excise where he was between 1975 and 1977.
His dogged quest for more knowledge in the academics prompted him to enroll as a pioneer student in the department of Zoology at the then newly established University of Port Harcourt, in 1977 and graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons.) Second Class (Upper Division) in 1981. As a Youth Corper, he served Nigeria devotedly between 1981 and 1982 as a classroom teacher in Community Secondary School Iresi – Oyo State (now Osun State). After the mandatory service, Goodluck Jonathan was invited for a teaching appointment by the old Rivers State Civil Service Commission in 1982, however, because of his brilliant and intimidating performance at the interview, he was appointed a Science Inspector of Education in the Ministry of Education.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan always knew that he had a bond with the academia that he cannot dispute. Hence, he soon left the mainstream Civil Service for the College of Education where he took up an appointment as a lecturer in the Department of Biology in November 1983. Again, because of his disciplined nature and dedication to duty, he was elected as the Representative of Congress in the Senior Staff Appointments and Promotions Committee. A position he held till he voluntarily left the College in 1993. To equip himself firmly ahead of the foresighted challenges, he enrolled again for a Post Graduate programme in the University of Port Harcourt.
He bagged a well-deserved Master of Science (M.Sc.) Degree in Hydro-Biology and Fisheries Biology and Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology in 1985 and 1995 respectively.
In furtherance of his career, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan later picked an appointment as an Assistant Director in the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), in March 1993 and was deployed to the Directorate of Environmental Protection and Pollution Control where he directed the affairs of the Environmental Protection Sub-Department.
Dr. Jonathan is a member of various professional bodies, including the Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON); Fellow, International Association of Impact Assessment (IAIA); Fellow, Public Administrators of Nigeria (PAN), and he was also awarded the prestigious Honorary Fellowship of the Nigerian Environmental Society, following his strides and contributions towards Environmental Management.
While serving as the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, his dedication to service, eventful life devoted entirely to humanity and monumental achievements as an accomplished leader earned him the “Best Performing Deputy Governor Award in the Federation in 2002” by the Institute of Public Administration of Nigeria (IPAN); “Exemplary Leadership Quality and Good Governance Award” by the National Association of Women in Education Development in July 2003, and in further recognition of his dedication to service, the NUJ Abuja Council conferred on him a prestigious Honorary Award for Democracy and Good Governance.
Known as a humane administrator, amazingly simple minded personality, well loved by his people, friends and colleagues, Jonathan ventures into the dicey and precarious murky water of Nigerian politics in 1998, a move nobody ever expected.
Nevertheless, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan saw the need to boost the socio-economic with political interest of the common man as well as bridge the lacuna of rural/urban dichotomy of his people through the provisions of social infrastructure. Hence, he took to politics in the Fourth Republic and pitched tent with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was picked as the running mate to the Party’s flag bearer Chief D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha. The duo emerged victorious at the polls in the 1999 gubernatorial election, and so, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan became the first Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State.
After a successful tenure, which ended May 2003, Dr. Jonathan repeated the feat where he led Chief D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha Campaign machinery popularly called ALAMCO, and the duo won the gubernatorial elections again in 2003. Through providence, Jonathan was promoted and sworn-in as Governor of one of the richest regions in Africa, Bayelsa State, after the State Governor – Chief Diepreye S. P. Alamieyeseigha – was indicted by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on corruption charges in 2006 and subsequently impeached by the legislators of the State House of Assembly.
Just as his tenure was coming to an end in Bayelsa State, good luck beamed Jonathan again, as he was surprisingly announced as the running mate to PDP Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’adua for the 2007 general elections. The selection of Jonathan stunned many as he was not on the bookmakers’ radar at that period.
On 13 January 2010, a Federal High Court handed him the power to carry out state affairs to allow President Umar Musa Yar’adua, who left the country on 23 November 2009, without official provision for anyone to assume his duties, receive medical treatment in a Saudi Arabian Hospital.
Following the national altercation, which broke out due to former President Umaru Yar’Adua’s controversial medical trip to Saudi Arabia, a motion from the Nigerian Senate on 9 February 2010 confirmed his powers to act as President, with all the accompanying powers, until when and if Yar’Adua returned to full health. Nigerian Constitution requires a written letter from the President stating he is unable to serve or that the cabinet sends a medical team to examine him but this provision has not apparently been fulfilled leaving some doubts as to the constitutionality of the action. The power transfer was called a “coup without the word” by opposition lawyers and lawmakers, yet ending 78 days of power vacuum in the oil-rich nation.
Though President Yar’adua returned to Nigeria on 24 February 2010, insinuations were rife that he was not fit enough to carry out his duties as the President of the nation, Jonathan thus continued as Acting President and was later sworn in as President on 6 May 2010, upon Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’adua’s death on 5 May, 2010.
Dr. Jonathan is a man well recognized for his cluster of achievements and immense contributions to the polity, communal liberalism, growth, and general welfare of the people of his area. One significant feat that has endeared Goodluck Jonathan to the Ogbia people is the peace he has brought to the politics of that region. At the inception of this Fourth Republic, the political activities were characterized with extreme violence and chaos. But he doggedly advocated for politics without rancour or violence and in his usual peaceful disposition without bitterness, Ogbia political silhouette is not only stable and homogenous but one of the most violent free clan in Nigeria today.
Beyond these, he is a humble man, dearly loved and respected. He has remained in the consciousness of his friends and contemporaries, as a builder of human social bridges. He is a teacher, technocrat, a democrat, a man of transparent honesty and humility; a perfect gentleman, a tender loving husband and an unshakable believer in the unity, not only of Ogbia clan but also of Nigeria.
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikwe Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is happily married to Mrs. Patience Faka Jonathan. The nuptial union is blessed with two children.