That Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is sitting on the pinnacle of power in Nigeria today as President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces may well be described as an act of fate.
In about a decade ago, Jonathan himself barely knew how fate and fortune would smile at him. But between 1999 and 2010, Goodluck’s life has been one of luck and surprises. He has lived up to his name: Goodluck!
Born on November 20, 1957 to a peasant farmer called Jonathan, nobody, not even his parents, ever imagined that the little Goodluck would become so famous beyond the rural confines of his humble homestead in Otuoke, Ogbia Kingdom, Bayelsa State.
Although, his parents christened him Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, his grandmother preferred to call 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. Today, that hope has not only come to reality, Jonathan has lived up to all his names: Goodluck, Ebele, Azikiwe.
Luck began to thrust himself on Jonathan since his secondary school days at Mater Dei High School when he was appointed, in form three, a class prefect and secretary of the Food Committee, an administrative body of hostel masters and senior students in 1973. He later assumed the exalted office of the Chairman, Committee of Prefects, the position he held till he graduated from the school with a distinction in the West African School Certificate (WASC) examination.
After his university education in the University of Port Harcourt, where he bagged a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology with second class honours, Goodluck Jonathan began his career as a teacher in 1982 at lresi town in Oyo State (now in Osun State) where he had his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme. He later took up appointment as a classroom teacher in Rivers State and was later upgraded to the rank of Science Inspector of Education in the Rivers State Ministry of Education. A year later, he moved to the Rivers State College of Education where he picked up his chalk again as a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences.
Since then, providence has begun to play a great role in the life of Jonathan. From the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Commission (OMPADEC) where he served as an Assistant Director between 1993 and 1998, Goodluck ventured into the rough waters of Nigerian politics. And within a twinkle of an eye, he rose to become the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This appears to be the starting point of his rising profile.
As Deputy Governor, Jonathan showed himself to be an exemplary lieutenant and a pillar of support to his boss, Chief Diepriye Alamieyeseigha.
Providence, however, played the impartial umpire when the wind of fate threw DSP Alamieyeseigha down from the rostrum over allegations of money laundering, and Jonathan succeeded him first the Acting Governor on December 12,2005 and later as substantive governor after the impeachment of Alamieyesigha.
Within the short period he ruled as Bayelsa State governor, Jonathan endeared himself to the hearts of the people, such that many Bayelsans were pleading with him to contest the 2007 gubernatorial election in the state. Goodluck too could not resist the temptation. He had already prepared to run for the governorship election. But fate and luck had a better offer for him.
In 2007, Jonathan, to the surprise of many Nigerians, including his friends and close associates, was picked by the ruling party, PDP to run as vice-president, on the same ticket with the presidential flagbearer of the party, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Even though, many commentators, in the run-up to the presidential election in 2007, denigrated. Yar’ Adua and Jonathan as lame ducks or better still puppets, the duo emerged the winners of the election.
Jonathan’s loyalty to his former boss, in the course of Alamieyeseigha’s trial, and his commitment to service and unity of the country were said to have endeared him to the the PDP leadership which chose him as Yar’ Adua’s running mate. And throughout the period he served as the vice-president of the country, Jonathan demonstrated unshakable loyalty both to his boss and the PDP leadership.
For the umpteenth time however, providence came into play and luck thrust itself on Jonathan when President Yar’Adua was flown to Saudi Arabia on November 23, 2009 for treatment of pericarditis-acute inflammation of the membrane around the heart.
In the midst of the confusion that reigned over Yar’Adua’s ill-health and the cacophony of voices that trailed the president’s long absence from office, the two arms of the National Assembly, on February 9, this year, passed a resolution that mandated the Vice-President to take over the presidential power in acting capacity. Since then, Jonathan has proved himself to be a visionary leader with exemplary character.
Yesterday, however, Jonathan rose to the peak of his political career when he was sworn in as the 14th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, following the death of Yar’Adua on Wednesday, May 5, 2010.
There is no doubt that Jonathan is a gentleman of no mean repute and a modest leader who does not give to flamboyance. But, he is a man of strong will and character whose stint as a former deputy governor of Bayelsa State for six years, Governor for two years, Vice-President for two and half years and Acting President for three months had offered him some kind of training on quality leadership.
The recent changes he made in the Federal Executive Council are living testimonies. He fired the first salvo by demoting Mr Michael Aondoakaa, whose utterances were causing the Federal Government an embarrassment, from the prestigious position of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to a less fancied Ministry of Special Duties. He, however, demonstrated his rare political skills and ability on Wednesday, March 17 when he threw many ministers off balance through a cabinet reshufflement.
Meanwhile, Jonathan’s recent visit to the United States President Barrack Obama added more grease to his rising profile. Not many leaders have that kind of opportunity. He particularly gave a good account of himself as one of Nigeria’s most educated and intelligent political leaders during his interview with the CNN last month.
Given Jonathan’s low-profile background, and as a man who had tasted the other side of life before his sudden rise, the President abides in the consciousness of many Nigerians, especially the people of the Niger Delta who see him not only as a bridge builder, but also as an agent of change and development.
It is also in the light of this that many Nigerians are demanding that he translates his fortune and names: Goodluck and Ebele (which mean luck and mercy) into goodluck and mercy for the Nigerian populace, especially workers who are demanding for a reasonable wage increase.