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Profiling Goodluck Jonathan, Former Nigerian President


Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR, GCON) is a well-known Nigerian politician who has held various political positions in the country, most notably as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015. He also served as Vice President of Nigeria under former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Prior to that, he was the Governor of Bayelsa State from 2005 to 2007.

Early Life & Education

Goodluck Jonathan was born on November 28, 1957, in Ogbia, Bayelsa State, to the Ijaw ethnic group. He earned a doctorate in zoology, a master’s degree in hydrobiology and fisheries biology, and a bachelor’s degree in zoology with second-class honors from the University of Port Harcourt. Prior to entering politics in 1998, he worked as a lecturer, an environmental protection officer, and an education inspector.

Political Career

Jonathan’s career is based primarily on politics. In 1998, he began his political career. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, the PDP’s candidate for Bayelsa State governor, and Jonathan took the oath of office jointly on May 29, 1999. Jonathan served as the vice governor until December 2005. When the current governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, was removed from office by the Bayelsa State Assembly after being accused of money laundering in the United Kingdom, Jonathan was sworn in as the new governor. He had been serving as the deputy governor at the time.

Vice President

Jonathan was picked as Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s running partner for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) general presidential election in 2007. Yar’Adua and Jonathan were elected in April and took office in May, respectively. As vice president, Jonathan met with militants in the Niger Delta who were fighting against oil companies operating in the region.

When Yar’Adua’s protracted departure from the country for medical care frightened many Nigerians, they demanded that Yar’Adua formally give over power to Jonathan, raising Jonathan’s profile dramatically. Members of Nigeria’s National Assembly took matters into their own hands on February 9, 2010, voting to have Jonathan assume full power and serve as acting president until Yar’Adua could resume his duties, as there were growing concerns and no word from Yar’Adua on the request to transfer power to his vice president. Later that day, Jonathan accepted and took over, but it was unclear whether the leadership change was legal.

On February 24, 2010, after Yar’Adua returned to Nigeria, it was announced that Jonathan would act as president in the interim while Yar’Adua healed. The following month, Jonathan cemented his power by dismissing Yar’Adua’s cabinet. Yar’Adua died on May 5, 2010, and Jonathan was sworn in as president the next day. Yar’Adua never recovered completely. Jonathan stated his intention to participate in the Niger Delta peace talks, as well as his plans to overhaul the country’s widely criticized election system, combat corruption, and address the country’s energy issues.


On May 18, 2010, the National Assembly approved Jonathan’s nomination of Kaduna State Governor Namadi Sambo to succeed him as Vice President. Jonathan and Vice President Sambo ran together and won the presidential election in 2011.

On May 29, 2011, he was sworn in as the 14th President of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. In his inaugural speech, he promised to continue implementing President Yar’adua’s seven-point agenda program and to focus his government on a reform agenda. His administration’s priorities are electoral, political, and anti-corruption reforms, according to him. He claimed that his election to office was the result of extremely sad and unexpected circumstances.


Throughout Jonathan’s first term as president, a northeast-focused insurgency led by the religious extremist group Boko Haram dominated the country. The government took steps such as declaring states of emergency in the worst-affected areas and attempting to mediate, but Boko Haram’s violence persisted until a regional force was established and began aggressively pursuing the group in February 2015.

Jonathan made mixed progress in addressing the country’s economic problems; despite general economic growth under his leadership, many Nigerians remained impoverished, with the north housing a disproportionately large proportion of the poor. He also had to deal with PDP schisms, which resulted in several PDP members defecting to opposing parties. Regardless, Jonathan was chosen to represent the PDP in the 2015 presidential election.

2015 Presidential Election

President Jonathan had more than a dozen opponents, but the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential nominee Muhammadu Buhari was his most formidable foe. Buhari had a strong military background and was thought to be capable of dealing with rebels, making him an appealing prospect to many. Jonathan was accused of not moving quickly enough to combat Boko Haram. The March 28, 2015 presidential election was the most tightly contested in Nigerian history. When the majority of the results were tallied, it became clear that Jonathan would lose to Buhari, and Jonathan resigned. It was the first time in Nigerian history that an incumbent was defeated.

Post Presidency

Jonathan has been appointed to many roles since leaving office as president. In 2019, he was named honorary special advisor to the Bayelsa Education Trust Fund board. In June 2019, he was also named the first chairman of the International Summit Council for Peace. Furthermore, in July 2020, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) designated Jonathan as a special envoy to facilitate negotiations in the midst of the Malian protest.

Personal Life

Jonathan is married to Dame Patience Jonathan, who served as Nigeria’s First Lady while her husband was president. Ariwera (son) and Aruabai (daughter) are the couple’s two children (daughter).


The majority of people have labeled Jonathan’s administration as corrupt. The Jonathan administration allowed politicians and their cronies to stuff their pockets with impunity, allowing corruption to grow. There have been numerous reports of large sums of money being misappropriated, including the alleged disappearance of 3.98 trillion (US$20 billion) and the alleged distribution of 398 billion ($2 billion) in the military to high-ranking officials. According to Wikileaks documents published in 2006, Jonathan’s wife, Patience Jonathan, was allegedly charged with money laundering by Nigeria’s anti-crime organization, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

According to sources, the Muhammadu Buhari administration has been fighting corruption perpetrated by Jonathan’s administration since May 2015. Several former Jonathan political appointees and office holders, as well as party members, have been imprisoned on various corruption-related charges. Former finance minister Nenadi Usman is alleged to have reimbursed some of the money they stole. However, none of these officials have been convicted of the claimed offenses. It is unclear whether Jonathan, who is suspected of orchestrating or approving the misconduct, will be detained.

Awards & Recognition

  • First Class of the Order of the Most Ancient Welwitschia mirabilis.
  • Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR)
  • Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON)
  • Jonathan was awarded the chieftaincy title of the “Se lolia I” of Wakirike Bese.

Net Worth

Goodluck Jonathan has an estimated net worth of $12 million.



Written by PH

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