The background of resounding calls by discerning Nigerians to restore faith in the rule of law and follow the Constitution to the letter in the matter of a credible helmsman for the nation, Adeyemi Matthew veteran speech writer, provides an insight into the life of Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
On November 20, 1957, a peasant farmer, Jonathan and his wife gave birth to a baby boy at their homestead in Otuoke, they never imagined that the boy would become famous beyond the rural confines of Ogbia kingdom. Not for once did it occur to them that this boy would one day become the first Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State rising, by dint of hard work and the intervention of fate, to become Governor.
Even so, the paternal grandmother of this jolly good chap had a vision for her grandson. She called him Azikiwe, in the hope that the illustrious name would leave a political imprint of glory on his impressionable mind, and lead him to repeat the exploits of the Great Zik of Africa. The old woman did not hope in vain. Early in life, the lad marked himself apart from his peers. He was christened Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Today, many years after he took up chalk and slate, he holds a doctorate degree in Zoology and serves under President Umar Musa Yar’Adua as the first Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to emerge from the south-south geo-political zone in the 49-year history of Nigeria.
Goodluck Jonathan began his primary education at St Stephen’s Primary School (now State School, Otuoke) and later moved to St Michael’s Primary School, Oloibiri, where he completed his elementary education in 1969, at the age of 12. His leadership traits began to come up for reckoning in the course of his secondary school days. In 1973, while in form three, he was appointed class prefect and Secretary of the Food Committee, an administrative body of hostel masters and senior students. He occupied that position up to form five. As the prime prefect of Masterson House, he soon assumed the exalted office of Chairman, Committee of Prefects. Like a gold fish, he could no longer hide. Two years later, in 1975, he obtained his West African School Certificate from the famous Mater Dei High School, Imiringi, passing out with a distinction.
Afterward, Goodluck Jonathan worked as a Preventive Officer with the Department of Customs and Excise, proud of his khaki uniform, his new rank, and the official pistol by his side, stuck in its holster. In 1977, he secured admission into the Department of Zoology, a pioneer student of the newly established University of Port Harcourt. After a studious tenure there, he bagged a Bachelor of Science degree in 1981, graduating with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division).
As a corps member, Goodluck served Nigeria devotedly as a humble classroom teacher at Iresi, a community in Oyo State, now in Osun State. At the end of the NYSC programme in 1982, the young man took up appointment as a classroom teacher under the auspices of the Rivers State Civil Service Commission, and began to cultivate his independent-minded spirit. Following his exceptional performance at the interview, he was promptly upgraded to the rank of Science Inspector of Education in the Ministry of Education.
But then, Goodluck Jonathan always knew that he had a bond with the academia that he couldn’t deny. Accordingly, in November 1983, he left the mainstream civil service for the Rivers State College of Education, Port Harcourt, where he picked up his chalk again, standing before the blackboard and drawing diagrams, content with his status as a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences. He was elected as a Representative of Congress in the Senior Appointments and Promotions Committee of the College. He performed his duties to great acclaim until he voluntarily resigned his appointment.
Given his dogged quest for knowledge, however, he propelled himself to obtain a Masters degree in Hydro-Biology and Fisheries Biology in 1985. It is on record that from his primary school right through tertiary education, Goodluck Jonathan never failed any terminal or semester examination. Ultimately, in 1995, after a long dream of academic fulfillment, he bagged his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Zoology from the University of Port Harcourt.
With the creation of the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission, OMPADEC, in October 1992, Dr Jonathan was called to serve as Assistant Director, Ecology, in March 1993 in the Directorate of Environmental Protection and Pollution Control. He was in charge of the Environmental Protection Sub-Department of the Commission. He performed creditably in that capacity, until he voluntarily left the service of the Commission in 1998.
Not much was known of him until in 1998 when he joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and was picked as a running mate to the party’s gubernatorial standard bearer in Balysea State, Chief Diepreye Alamieysegha, and fortunately, they both got the mandate of the people. A close associate of his was once quoted to have said that ‘his ardent desire of going into politics was to actualize communal liberalism, growth, development, and general welfare of his people’’. Goodluck was so loyal to his boss Alamieysegha that the governor referred to him as his brother.
The good relationship between the duo deepened to the extent that Balysea state was then used as an example of a peaceful state, as a result of his uncompromising loyalty, Jonathan was referred to as a weakling in some quarter.
On September 15, 2005, Alamieysegha was arrested by the London Metropolitan Police for an alleged money laundering and was made to stand trials. He jumped bail and returned to Nigeria on November 21, 2005 hoping that his immunity as a governor would cover him from been arrested, but it turned out to be incorrect calculation. Alamieysegha on his return was received by a riotous crowd, amid singing, drumming and dancing. Some people also took to the streets protesting for and against his escape. This cause no fewer than 1,000 riot police men and soldiers to be deployed to the state to avoid breakdown of law and order.
Alamieysegha was deceived by his overzealous aides who fed him with all sorts of unpleasant news about his deputy’s alleged gang up with the federal government to get him removed from his office.
A notice of impeachment was then served on Alamieysegha by lawmakers led by then Balysea House Speaker, Peremobowei Ebebi. After the investigations by a seven member committee headed by Port Harcourt based lawyer, Mr. David Serena Dokubo, Alamieysegha was removed and Lucky Goodluck inaugurated as the substantive governor of Balysea state.
Goodluck finished his first term and wanted a second, but some more connected politicians would not let him. They also wanted the seat. While all these were on, Goodluck maintained his calm, following the crisis gradually, and at last as fate had it, his opponents were flushed out and he got the party’s ticket to contests as the governorship post in Balysea 2007.
In early, 2007, when all PDP faithful were gathered in Abuja and the party’s presidential candidate, Umaru Musa Yar’adua was saddled with the responsibility of nominating a vice, and was limited to just the South-South, he needed to go the heart of Niger Delta where the heat is, regarding the agitation for resource control. And there again Goodluck who was not among the aspirants from the zone and was not expecting to be picked, being contented with the governorship ticket of the party in the state, was picked.
‘’Luck, or best could this be described? This luck has smiled at him again. He never campaigned to be the governor of Balyesa State but it came. He never dreamed to be the Vice-president but he is, Really Goodluck is a man who waits for destiny. And this has shaped his life. He operated as if there are no politics going on around him at the presidential Villa, or anywhere else in the country.
As his name suggests, Goodluck Jonathan has a habit of being in the right place at the right time. But then, President Umaru Yar'Adua was taken to hospital in Saudi Arabia and was not seen again in public until he died on 5 May 2010.
Step forward, Mr Jonathan. After months of political wrangling, Nigeria's elite finally accepted him as acting leader in February 2010 when the ailing president returned home, but remained too ill to govern.
Jonathan became president in 2010 after the death of Umaru Yar'Adua, in other to complete the former president’s term. The 53 year-old former zoology teacher is the most educated president in the country's history.
In 2011 general election President Goodluck Jonathan was declared the winner of the April 16, presidential elections. The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party polled 22, 495, 187 votes to beat his closest challenger Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change who scored 12, 214, 853 votes. There were 38, 209, 978 valid votes cast during the polls.
Alongside the majority of votes, Jonathan polled the needed 25 percent of votes needed in 31 states while Buhari had in 16 of a total of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission announced the results of the polls on Monday evening in Abuja, Nigeria's capital. "That Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP having scored the highest number of votes and having satisfied the requirements of the law is hereby declared as winner of the election," Jega said.
It is the best contested presidential election in Nigeria since the country returned to civilian rule in 1999 after many years under military rule.