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 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. He proceeded to Mater Dei High School, Imiringi, where he passed his West African School Certificate with flying colours in 1975.
On completion of his secondary education, he worked as a Preventive Officer with the Nigerian Customs Service for two years before proceeding 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. 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 of the lot 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, 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. 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.
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. On May 29, 2011, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan took oath as President and Commander in Chief, after his victory in the 2011 Presidential election.
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 (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.