Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan GCFR GCON (born 20 November, 1957) is a Nigerian politician who served as the president of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015. He lost the 2015 presidential election to former military head of state General Muhammadu Buhari, and was the first incumbent president in Nigerian history to concede defeat in an election for the sake of democracy. Prior to that, he served as the vice president of Nigeria from 2007 to 2010 under the administration of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; and in oil-rich Bayelsa State as governor from 2005 to 2007, and deputy governor from 1999 to 2005.

Goodluck Jonathan was born on 20 November,1957 in Ogbia to a Christian Ijaw family of canoe makers, in Otuoke, Bayelsa State. His father, Lawrence Ebele Jonathan, was a canoe maker and his mother, Eunice Ayi Ebele Jonathan, was a retired farmer. He attended a Christian primary and secondary school.

He received a bachelor’s degree in zoology (second-class honours), a master’s degree in hydrobiology and fisheries biology; and a doctorate in zoology from the University of Port Harcourt. During his time in the university, he taught at Rivers State College of Education from 1983 to 1993.

Before entering into politics in 1998, Jonathan worked as an education inspector, a lecturer and an environmental-protection officer. His political career began when he became involved with the nascent People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the late 1990s. Jonathan entered into politics when General Sani Abacha, who ruled as military head of state of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998, died in office. In the 1999 Bayelsa State gubernatorial election, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha ran for governor under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party and chose Jonathan as his running mate. Alaimeyeseigha won the election and became the first civilian governor of Bayelsa State in May 1999. They were reelected in 2003 and Jonathan’s diligence and loyalty to him earned him the recognition as Nigeria’s most hardworking deputy governor.

On 29 May 1999, Jonathan was sworn in as deputy governor of Bayelsa alongside Diepreye Alamieyeseigha who came in as the governor of the state on the platform of PDP. Jonathan served as Deputy Governor until December 2005. On 9 December 2005, Jonathan, who was the deputy governor at the time, was sworn in as the governor of Bayelsa State upon the impeachment of governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha by the Bayelsa State Assembly after being charged with money laundering in the United Kingdom.

As Vice President, Jonathan took a very low profile. While recognising the constitutional limits of the Vice President’s office, he participated in cabinet meetings and, by statute, was a member of the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, the Federal Executive Council and chairman of the National Economic Council.

Jonathan was named Acting President of Nigeria on 9 February 2010, following a controversial doctrine of necessity from the Senate of Nigeria due to President Yar’Adua’s trip to Saudi Arabia in November 2009 for medical treatment. On 10 February 2010, his first day as acting president, Jonathan announced a minor cabinet reshuffle.
In accordance with the order of succession in the Nigerian constitution, following President Yar’Adua’s death on 5 May 2010, Jonathan, as Acting President, was sworn in as the substantive president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 6 May 2010. On 18 May 2010, the National Assembly approved Jonathan’s nomination of Kaduna State Governor Namadi Sambo, to replace him as Vice President. For the general election in 2011, Jonathan and Vice President Sambo attended political events and travelled the country to campaign for the nation’s highest office.
A year later, on 29 May 2011, he was sworn in as President of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, becoming Nigeria’s 14th Head of State. He gave his inauguration address where he declared his government was to focus on a Transformation Agenda and promised to continue implementing the seven-point agenda policy framework of President Yar’Adua. He cited anti-corruption, power and electoral reforms as focuses of his administration. He stated that he came to office under “very sad and unusual circumstances”.

On 31 March 2015, Jonathan conceded the election to challenger Muhammadu Buhari, who was sworn in to succeed him on 29 May 2015. Jonathan said in a statement he issued on 31 March 2015 that “Nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.”

Since leaving office, Jonathan has continued to defend his administration. In 2019, he was appointed as the honorary special advisor to the Bayelsa Education Trust Fund board. In June 2019, Goodluck Jonathan was named chairperson of the newly inaugurated International Summit Council for Peace. In July 2020, Jonathan was appointed special envoy of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lead mediation talks during the 2020 Malian protests. His selfless and sacrificial service to his people earned him a top spot in the world stage and today he is described by formal associates as the hero of Nigerian democracy.


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