President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was born to a humble Niger Delta family of canoe makers on November 20, 1957. Growing up in the warmth of a close knit family, Dr. Jonathan had humble yet adventurous beginnings. In spite of the enchanting beauty of the Niger Delta and the pristine innocence of those times, the young Jonathan rather than take after the family trade, chose to go to school.
He attended St. Stephens and St. Michaels Primary Schools, Oloibiri, finishing in 1969. Goodluck Jonathan was identified as a promising child from his tender age because of his attributes and rare disposition. No wonder, his paternal grandmother “nicknamed” him “Azikiwe” to connote another great Nigerian to come in the nearest future. Goodluck was appointed Class Prefect in class three in 1973, he was further appointed Secretary to the School Food Committee, because of his dedication to serve. And in his class four and five, he was appointed Masterson House Prefect and later elected as Chairman of the Committee of Prefects. He proceeded to Mater Dei High School, Imiringi, where he passed his West African School Certificate with flying colours in 1975. His outstanding performance and enduring background, secured him a job as a Preventive Officer with the Nigerian Customs Service from 1975 to 1977.
He proceeded to the University of Port Harcourt as one of the pioneer students of the new university nestling on the shores of the Choba River. He chose Zoology. It is recorded that as a child he had been fascinated with nature, and growing up by the shores of the intertwining rivers and waterways of the Niger Delta, aquatic life was second nature.
He graduated with Second Class Upper honours in 1981. In 1985 and 1995 he studied for his Master’s and Ph.D degrees in Hydrobiology and Fisheries Biology, and Zoology respectively, from the same University. But this was not until he had completed his mandatory one year of National Youth Service in Iresi, old Oyo State, now Osun State of Nigeria.
Returning to the warm embrace of family and friends in 1982, he was appointed as Science Inspector of Education, Rivers State Ministry of Education, while studying in between for his post-graduate and graduate degrees. Between 1983 and 1993 he took up employment as a lecturer in the Department of Biological Science, Rivers State College of Education.
In 1993, he was appointed Assistant Director (Ecology of the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) in charge of Environmental Protection. Working in a developmental environment, his desire to better the conditions of the people motivated him to answer the call to service. He resigned his job in 1998 and went into politics.
His honesty, simplicity, charisma, strength and determination made him an ideal running mate to Chief D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha on the Bayelsa People’s Democratic Party, PDP, gubernatorial ticket. They won the elections, and he served as a Deputy Governor from 1999 to 11 December 2005. On 12 December that year, he became the substantive Governor of Bayelsa State following the impeachment of the Governor of Bayelsa state (who he was seconding) due to the corruption charges leveled against him.
It wasn’t long after that fate once again beckoned. He was busy preparing for re-election to his first full term as substantive governor, when the PDP, which is the largest political party in Africa, nominated him as running mate to the Presidential candidate, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua. After a keenly contested election, the Yar’adua/Jonathan ticket won, and on May 29, 2007, he was inaugurated as Nigeria’s Vice President.
Precisely on February 9, 2010, Dr. Jonathan assumed office as Nigeria’s Acting President by virtue of a National Assembly resolution empowering him as Acting President, following President Yar’Adua’s long absence for medical attention in Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was sworn-in on May, 6, 2010 as President, Commander-in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria following the passing away of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on May 5, 2010.
Dr. Jonathan has received several local and international awards. He was voted the ‘Best performing Deputy Governor’ in 2002 by IPAN, given the ‘Democracy and Good Governance Award’ by Nigeria Union of Journalists in 2004. The Africa International News magazine league conferred on him the ‘Niger Delta Development Award’; the Nigerian Bar Association, the ‘Distinguished Personality’ award in 2006, and the All African Students Union in South Africa, the ‘Africa Leadership Award 2006’.
Additionally, the Nigerian Union of Teachers voted him the ‘Best Performing Governor in Education in the South-South’ in 2006. He was also recognized by the International Federation for World Peace (IFWP) in 22 July 2006, with ‘Ambassador for Peace Merit Award’ as well as the ‘Leadership and Good Governance Merit Award’.
Analysts and jounalists won’t stop saying he’s affected by his first name; “GOODLUCK”
Yet the BBC’s Fidelis Mbah says insiders regard him as a politician without a political base – and more of an administrator than a leader.
If Mr Jonathan’s time as vice-president was distinguished at all, it was through his negotiations with militants in the Niger Delta, who are mostly his fellow Ijaws.
Many of the major militant groups have laid down their weapons as part of a government amnesty. His presidency so far will mainly be remembered for the Independence Day bombings being on the 1st October, 2010. As he was overseeing the pomp and ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of independence in Abuja’s Eagle Square – two car bomb blasts nearby killed 12 people.
A militant faction claimed responsibility for the attacks – and is believed to be behind an upsurge of violence in the Niger Delta.
But after securing his first election victory, he now has plenty of time to make a real mark on Nigerian politics.
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is married to Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan, and the union is blessed with children.
His wife, Patience, was investigated by anti-corruption officials in 2006 over allegations that she tried to launder some $13.5m (£8.5m), but she pulled through and was not convicted because there was no concrete evidence to that regard.