Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former president of Nigeria, was born November 20, 1957 in Otuoke, Ogbia Local Government of Bayelsa State. His father, Lawrence Ebele Jonathan was a canoe- maker and his mother, Eunice Ayi Ebele Jonathan, is a retired farmer.
He was educated at St. Stephen’s Primary School, Otuoke; St Michael’s Primary School, Oloibiri; Mater Dei High School, lmiringi; Ogbia, and University of Port Harcourt, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree, Master’s degree and Doctorate in Hydrobiology and Fisheries Biology.
Before joining politics, he served as a Science Inspector of Education, a lecturer at Rivers State College of Education Rumuolumeni (now Ignatius Ajuru University) and as an Assistant Director at the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission.
His remarkable political career began with the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1998, following the death of General Sani Abacha who ruled Nigeria as a military dictator from 1993. In the run up to the 1998 elections, Diepreye Alaimeyeseigha, governorship candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chose Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to be his running mate. The Alaimeyeseigha/Jonathan ticket won the election and he became the first civilian deputy governor of Bayelsa State on May 29, 1999. They were re-elected in 2004. Jonathan’s diligence and loyalty to Governor Alaimeyeseigha earned him the recognition as the “most hardworking deputy governor” in Nigeria. He was also widely respected for his humility, sense of responsibility and loyalty.
Goodluck Jonathan served as deputy governor of Bayelsa state until December 12, 2005, when he was sworn in as governor. In 2007 he won the PDP Bayelsa State gubernatorial primary and was in the midst of his campaign when he was nominated to be the PDP presidential candidate, Governor Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua’s vice presidential running mate.
The Yar’ Adua/Jonathan ticket won the election. Their victory marked the first peaceful transition of power from one elected civilian leader to another since Nigeria attained independence from Britain in 1960. On May 29, 2007, Dr. Jonathan took the oath of office as Nigeria’s Vice-President, the first time that a civilian from Nigeria’s South-South geopolitical zone would hold such high political office in Nigeria.
Following President Yar’Adua’s prolonged treatment in Saudi Arabia and as a result of the national assembly’s adoption of the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ resolution in the absence of a constitutional accommodation for such absences, Vice President Jonathan became Acting President on February 9, 2010. In line with constitutional provisions, after the unforeseen and unfortunate death of President Yar’ Adua on May 5, 2010, Jonathan was sworn in as President and Commander-in-Chief of the FederalRepublic of Nigeria on May 6 2010, becoming Nigeria’s 14th Head of State. As Vice President, and being from the Niger Delta region, President Jonathan worked with the late President Yar’ Adua and South South leaders to develop a response to the militancy in the region that culminated in the widely acclaimed Niger Delta Amnesty Program, which brought peace and stability to the region.
In 2011, President Jonathan vied for the presidency as the PDP’s candidate and was elected president, a position he held until 2015. As President he made major contributions to the political, economic and social development of Nigeria through his Transformation Agenda. He promoted democratization through the observance of the rule of law, enactment of the Freedom of Information Act, electoral reforms and non-interference in electoral outcomes. He expanded the economy and increased agricultural and industrial production and supported and elevated the creative industry sector. He promoted social advancement through gender inclusion and equity and expanded access to education through the establishment and expansion of specialised and tertiary institutions. He significantly expanded the physical infrastructure and then laid the foundation for the take-off of a national intermodal transport system that combines roads, railroads, waterways and aviation. President Jonathan through the developmental activities of his Transformation Agenda, successfully placed the country in the leadership of the Africa Rising movement by establishing Nigeria through a long overdue rebasing of its economy as the largest economy in Africa.
He worked tirelessly to strengthen the capacity of ECOWAS to respond to several challenges and personally led efforts that resolved the political crises in Cote d’lvoire, Niger, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Benin and Togo.
In 2015, after a keenly contested presidential campaign and to the surprise of his opponents he conceded victory to General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress via a phone call even before the final tally and formal announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission. With this unprecedented action President Jonathan demonstrated commitment to peace and electoral transparency giving significance to one of his most repeated mantras-“nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.” Against the backdrop of African and international commendation for the statesmanship, President Jonathan presided over the first peaceful transfer of political power from a ruling party to an opposition party in Nigeria culminating with the swearing in of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari as President/Commander in Chief on May 29, 2015. President Jonathan has received several local and global awards in recognition of his exceptional public service. He is committed to continuing to promote peace, democracy and development in Africa though the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation where he serves as Chairman.