By Ahmed Yerima, BOOK REVIEW
Humbled by the possibility of becoming the first black American President, President Barak Obama of the United States of America said in an interview with Ebony Collector’s Edition Magazine of January, 2009 that, “…I’m humbled by the fact that I stand on the shoulders of all the people that made all these incredible contributions to lift this country up”.
Today, Nigeria’s President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan a symbol of hope and aspiration for all Nigerian citizens of the twenty first century, remains humbled by the prayers, good wishes and good will of the Nigerian people as he confronts the challenges of bringing about a transformation of a country and ensuring that in the shortest possible time, it becomes a nation of the first state.
A story which has been described as one which ”is worth telling for its universal human interest, and for its special relevance to Nigerians on the brink of despair through the depravity of its politics and the steep decline of the quality of its leadership in governance.”
A simple story that has being recommended because it is about a simple man,” a new man, honest and unpretentious”, our very own Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Although written by a distinguished team of Writers and Editors from varied backgroundS, from history, media, culture, law, to the sciences and varied levels of experiences, the book reads interestingly as if it was written by one person, one soul, one continuous mouth piece, one strand of energy, one synergy of thought, in a lucid language, all coming together to give life to a tale which is already full of life’s activities and humour.? Maybe the background voice of the storyteller is the subject, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan himself, which allows the project team to announce with a certain smugness that this is the “The Authorised Biography of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.”
Ironically, the claim is true, because the narration has body, the characters are rounded, robust and real. The story has detailed truths and it has naked history that is both inspiring and un-protectively, honest.
The book is history which reflects the notion of humanity and the humane. It is history where the naked and humble background of a man who became President of Africa’s most populous nation, ontologizes the ontic eventuation of Nigerian history, indeed, the history of Africa as a continent, and through the narration of the “real conditions” with no fantastic spectacular happenings, but real life incidences.
The history of the life of ?Dr. Goodluck Jonathan becomes the development of the idea, a long letter of 226 pages to every Nigerian youth out there whether fair or black, short or tall. Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba or from the minority.
Whether they be sons and daughters of the rich and not so rich, with no particular pedigree or pretensions, just a simple, honest person – the book is a profound ?affirmation which says that He or She Too Can do it. Can reach for the sky and touch it.
The book is written in fifteen chapters with a Prologue and Epilogue. The most distinguished and revered First and former President of Zambia, President Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda sets the main theme of the book in what I want to call the, “miracle of God.”
“ In my vast experience in the trenches of the nationalist struggles to liberate Zambia and, indeed African peoples from colonialists and ideological repression, I found Dr. Jonathan to be one of the most engaging personalities.
Here was a young African intellectual of very humble background propelled within the last decade, by a combination of divine and other inscrutable forces, from the very relative obscurity to the exhilarating heights of national political prominence in a very complete political system such as exists in Nigeria.
Yet, he remained unchanged by it all. He struck me then, as he does now, as a man for whom the Almighty God had lifted the veil, however fleetingly, for a privileged peek into the Future! That impression probably accounts for my rather uncharacteristic behaviour at the point of my departure from Bayelsa State, wherein I had looked this remarkable young man full in the face and prophesied that he would one day, become the President of the country for which he had such a strong loving passion. The rest as they say in that most hackneyed of expression, is now history.”
From the birth of the son on the 20th of November, 1957 in that village called Otuoke to Ma Eunice and Pa Lawrence, and contributions of special and symbolic names from grandma Sarah, the miracle was born. Then the school days in Port Harcourt, the emergence of the name ‘GEJ’ at the Rivers State College of Education.
Meeting the ‘light skinned young beautiful woman’ from Okrika named Patience Oba. Reading about how their love blossomed, how they got blessed with Aruabai, Abayola and Ariwera.
How God Almighty has in his grace transformed Miss Patience Oba to Her Excellency, the Delectable Dame Patience Jonathan, the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, completes the life of the subject of the book.
It is right to say therefore, that throughout the book, religion as ethical ideal exists. It is the religion which blends with the vision of the Biblical Solomon that emerges. One that does not ask for power, because God had already entrusted power on Dr. Jonathan, but one that asks for the wisdom to use the power given him by God wisely and justly to improve the lot of mankind.