Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Grand Commander of the Order of the
Niger, GCON, and President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria, was born in Otueke in Ogbia Local Government Area of the
then Eastern Region, later Rivers State, and now Bayelsa State to a
humble Niger Delta family of canoe makers on November 20, 1957.
He was fully endowed with intelligence, strength and tact right from
childhood, even though his parents were of a humble social background.
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 started his primary education at St. Stephen Primary School (now
State School – Otuoke) and later proceeded to St Michael Primary
School – Oloibiri, finished in1969. In 1971, he proceeded to Mater Dei
High School – Imiringi and by 1975, he sat for the West African School
Certificate and passed with distinctions.
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
His outstanding performance and enduring background, secured him a job
as a Preventive Officer with the Nigerian Customs Service from 1975 to
However, because of his dogged quest for academic knowledge, Goodluck
proceeded to the University of Port Harcourt as one of the pioneer
students of the new university. He chose Zoology. 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
In 1981, he graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons.) Second Class (Upper
Division) and proceeded for his National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) in
Oyo state between 1981 and 1982. As a corper he served
enthusiastically as a classroom teacher in Community Secondary School
Iresi – Oyo State (now Osun State). On completion of his mandatory
service in 1982, Goodluck Jonathan was invited for a teaching
appointment by the old Rivers State Civil Service Commission. But
because of his outstanding and intimidating performance at the
interview, he was however appointed as a Science Inspector of
Education in the Ministry of Education.
Between 1985 and 1995 he bagged a well-deserved Master’s and Ph.D
degrees in Hydro-Biology and Fisheries Biology, and Doctor of
Philosophy in Zoology respectively, from the same University.
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 of the lot of the people motivated him to answer
the call to service. He resigned his job in 1998 and went into
Bayelsa State governorship
A humane administrator, amazingly simple minded and loved by his
people, friends and colleagues, nobody ever expected he will venture
into politics. Nevertheless, his honesty, simplicity, charisma, quiet
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. The duo emerged victorious at the polls in the
1999 gubernatorial election, and so, Dr. Goodluck E. Jonathan became
the first Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State. The duo repeated the feat
again in 2003 gubernatorial elections. On 12 December 2005, he became
the substantive Governor of Bayelsa State after Governor Diepreye
Alamieyeseigha, was impeached by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
In December 2006, Jonathan was nominated as running mate to Umaru
Yar’Adua for the ruling PDP presidential ticket in the April 2007
election as he was busy preparing for re election to his first full
term as substantive governor of Bayelsa state. After a keenly
contested election, the Yar’adua/Jonathan ticket won, and on May 29,
2007, he was inaugurated as Nigeria’s Vice President.
‘Credible’ – After taking into office, Yar’Adua publicly declared his
assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau, and on 8th August 2007, Jonathan
also did so. The assets which were made public indicates that the
value of Jonathan total assets and cash in banks stands at
N295,304,420. This is about N561, 148,472 less than the assets
declare by President Umaru Yar’Adua who declared his total assets to
be at the value of N856,452,892.
As Vice President, Jonathan took on a very low profile while
recognizing the constitutional limits of the Vice President office, he
participated in cabinet meetings and, by statute, membership in the
National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal
Executive Council, and the Chairman of National Economic Council.
‘Humanitarian’- His concern for the welfare and happiness of others
underscores his sense of obligation to society. In one of his earliest
decisions as a vice president, he promptly ordered an expedited
humanitarian investigation into a four year old decimation of Bua
Teyork (formerly Teyor Kaani) in Rivers State. Jonathan acted to
resettle over 40,000 men, women and children back to their homeland on
July 19, 2007 in a peace effort facilitated by Goodluck Diigbo, an
Ogoni, a Nigerian-American journalist and activist based in the United
States of America. For four years (2004–2007) the people had been
forced into the forests of Teyork and neighbouring village of Yeghe,
near Bori – the headquarters of oil and gas rich Ogoni people. Ogoni
is the tribe of Ken Saro-Wiwa slain November 10, 1995 for speaking out
against Shell and military dictatorship in Nigeria.
Jonathan was also instrumental in negotiating an agreement with many
of the major militant groups in the Niger Delta, to lay down their
weapons and stop fighting as part of a government amnesty.
On 23rd November 2009, President Umaru Yar’Adua left Nigeria for
medical treatment. On 13th January 2010, a federal court handed
Vice-President Jonathan the power to carry out state affairs in the
president’s continued absence. On 22nd January 2010, the Supreme Court
of Nigeria ruled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had 14 days
to decide on a resolution about whether President Yar’Adua “is
incapable of discharging the functions of his office”.
Dr. Jonathan assumed office on February 9, 2010, 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 as President becoming
Nigeria’s 14th Head of State 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. He cited
anti-corruption, power and electoral reforms as focuses of his
administration. He stated that he came to office under “very sad and
On 18 May 2010, the National Assembly approved President Goodluck
Jonathan’s nomination of former Kaduna State governor, Namadi Sambo,
an architect, for the position of Vice President.
In April, 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan won the general election
against General Muhammadu Buhari and Nuhu Ribadu with 59% of the
On 18 April, Jonathan was declared the winner of the election and his
victory was declared by the court and international observers as the
first ever free and fair election conducted in Nigeria.
The end game and story, is that Jonathan is today Nigeria’s president
through a peaceful and orderly constitutional process that gave
impetus and credence to Nigeria’s nascent democracy.
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
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
(IIFWP) in 22 July 2006, with ‘Ambassador for Peace Merit Award’ as
well as the ‘Leadership and Good Governance Merit Award’.
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is married to Dame Patience Goodluck
Jonathan, and the union is blessed with children.