By Chioma Gabriel, Deputy Editor
Goodluck Jonathan: Against all odds
Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan was born on November 20 1957 to a peasant farmer named Jonathan and his wife at their humble homestead in Otuoke, in Bayelsa State . He worked as a Preventive Officer with the Department of Customs and Excise before he secured admission into the Department of Zoology in 1977 as a pioneer student of the newly established University of Port Harcourt where he bagged a Bachelor of Science degree in 1981, graduating with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division).
As a corps member, he served as a classroom teacher at Iresi, a community in Oyo State, now in Osun State. At the end of the NYSC programme in 1982, he took up appointment as a classroom teacher under the auspices of the Rivers State Civil Service Commission. He was later upgraded to the rank of Science Inspector of Education in the Ministry of Education.
In November 1983, he left the mainstream civil service for the Rivers State College of Education, Port Harcourt, where he picked up his chalk again as a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences. He was elected as a Representative of Congress in the Senior Appointments and Promotions Committee of the College.
He bagged his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Zoology from the University of Port Harcourt.
At the dawn of the Fourth Republic, Dr Jonathan pitched tent with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and emerged as the running mate to the party’s gubernatorial flag-bearer, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. The duo emerged triumphant at the polls in the 1999 governorship election, and so Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan stepped into office as the first Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State.
Indeed, if his name was anything to go by, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has been favoured by the elements. He had a knack of being in the right place at the right time and for an unknown zoologist and administrator, his rise had been meteoric in the past thirteen years .
He was to become the Governor of Bayelsa state with the impeachment of Alamieyeseigha which paved the way for him to become anointed as the running mate of Umaru Yar’ Adua of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the Presidential election of 2007. Even as a Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan kept a very low profile. He was seen but hardly heard.
But like it happened when his boss in Bayelsa state was impeached, Jonathan had fortune smile on him again with the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua. His journey to fortune as Nigeria’s number one citizen began when the then, President Umaru Yar’Adua was taken to hospital in Saudi Arabia and was not ever to be seen in public until he died on 5 May 2010. Goodluck Jonathan, after months of political wrangling and backed by the doctrine of necessity became Acting President in February when the ailing President Yar’ Adua returned home, but remained too ill to govern.
Things changed further in his favour when barely 12 hours after President Yar’Adua’s death, he was sworn in as the new President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Africa’s most populous nation. .
Incumbency, in Nigeria’s history has never failed any leader except when God intervened as He did in the time Ibrahim Babangida in the aftermath of June 12 1993 Presidential election. IBB, the then military President was forced by circumstances to step aside. Few years later when the late General Sani Abacha wanted to transform into a civilian president, no man could have stopped him but God.
And God did. In the current state of Jonathan, his incumbency as President could secure him a second chance in office except if it is not the will of God. As the President, he has the support of his party PDP to contest Presidential election even though by the PDP’s zoning formula, it is the turn of the North to present the presidential candidate in the next election.
Jonathan also made a landmark in the time of the amnesty negotiation for militants in the Delta region.It was during his tenure as Vice-President and through his negotiations with militants in the Delta, who are mostly his fellow Ijaws that the amnesty programme of former President Yar Adua became effective. Many of the major militant groups laid down their weapons and others formed uneasy truces with the government. The credit for this shaky peace was given to Goodluck Jonathan.
His greatest strength perhaps lies in his calm resolve in the face of opposition. He is firm and is not easily shaken by panicky situations.
His name, Goodluck, Ebele (God’s mercy) has from his antecedents taken him a long way. And if a man’s ‘chi’ makes him a king, nobody can take that from him.
He was regarded as a politician without a political base and more of an administrator than a leader. On his own, he has never contested an election either as a Governor or as a President. On the occasions, he became Governor and President, fate always played things out in his favour.
After taking over the mantle of leadership from Umaru Yar; Adua, many still believe his impact has not been felt and he does seem to have a firm hold on the affairs of the nation or his party. This claim was further strengthened by the recent attacks by terrorists from his home zone Niger Delta which manifested on the Independence Day bomb blasts at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The manner in which he handled the incident and his immediate outburst afterward were regarded by his political enemies as a minus. It was not the first time he was a target of attack by militants in the Delta region. During the 2007 election, his house was bombed and his father kidnapped.
Also currently, the security situation under his regime has given so much cause for worry with the bomb blasts, renewed kidnaping, pipeline vandalisation and importation of arms and ammunition which have been attributed to the handiwork of his political enemies. As the leader of his party, Jonathan doesn’t seem to be wielding a strong influence. He wanted his aides to vote as delegates at the PDP presidential primary but lost at the party level. He was also defeated at the national assembly level.
He wanted presidential primary to come first but could not effect it. He was against zoning but his party said zoning is in their constitution although he could contest.
It was argued that Nigeria’s many groups of power-brokers are comfortable with him as a president because he lacks aggression and was not seen as a threat and crucially would not seek to contest the election due in 2011.
But Jonathan shocked those from this school of thought when he declared to contest 2011 presidential election after throwing the entire country in a hot debate on zoning which led to the constitution of the Ciroma Committee to pick a consensus Northern candidate that would contest against him in the primary.
Jonathan is not without his share of being mentioned in the country’s anti corruption crusade. As Acting Governor of Bayelsa state, his wife, Patience, was investigated by anti-corruption officials in 2006 over allegations that she tried to launder some $13.5m.
She was however not convicted of any wrongdoing over the affair and later the case was dismissed.
President Jonathan has the support of the following for the 2011 presidential election:
* National leadership of the ruling Peoples Democratic party, PDP, which includes the Board of Trustees, BOT and the National Executive Committee, NEC.
* South-South Governors Forum
* South- South Leaders
* Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo
* Top PDP chieftains : Barnabas Gemade, Jerry Gana, Tony Anenih, Solomon Lar, amongst other topshots and their supporters
His views on how to run government
One of the things to be used to judge Jonathan’s ability to rule again is his scorecard as President in the few months he would serve in this dispensation of Yar’Adua. There are many issues desiring immediate attention and how Jonathan has tackled them would work for him or against him. For this, his opponents see his incumbency as a liability rather than an asset. His views on some of these national issues would count for him or against him:
By early next year or later this year, a new power plant will begin to add to generation capacity and then, there will be gradual improvement. We no longer want to be in a situation where we are generating 3500 megawatts and the next day, we are generating 1500 megawatts and we have this kind of very noisy up-and-down movement of the power that has really affected our industries and those who rely on power to do their businesses.
We are committed to providing constant electricity to the nation at large due to the ripple effect it had in expanding economies.
The reasons are obvious, I don’t want to elaborate.We can assure you that our first commitment is to stabilize the little we are generating, and make sure that there is efficient means of transmission and distribution.
The roadmap for the power sector reforms that will last gives the blueprint of what we intend to do. We want to involve the private sector maximally in power generation and distribution, so that any step we take in the power sector will not relapse.
The Federal Government is targeting 10 major cities for stable electricity supply in the first phase of the power roadmap unveiled and this will herald a new era of transformation of our country; an era that will end the agony of power shortage in our country.
Education and Economic Transformation
I will be for the students, teachers and parents of Nigeria, a president who will advance quality and competitive education.
Let everyone in this country hear that I shall strive to the best of my ability to attain self sufficiency in food production. Let the word go out that my plans for a Sovereign Wealth Fund with an initial capital of $1billion will begin the journey for an economic restoration. This restoration will provide new job opportunities and alleviate poverty.
Let the word go out that our health sector will receive maximum priority in a new Jonathan administration, a priority that will ensure maximum health care and stop our brain drain. I will re-train, revamp, and motivate the civil service.
I have come to say to all of you that Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan is the man you need to put Nigeria right.
I have come to launch a campaign of ideas, not of calumny. I have come to preach love not hate. I have come to break you away from divisive tendencies of the past which have slowed our drive to true nationhood. I have no enemies to fight. You are all my friends and we share a common destiny. Let the ordinary Nigerian be assured that President Jonathan will have zero tolerance for corruption