Jonathan: A Colossus at 49
By Lawson Heyford, Yenagoa
Forty-nine years ago, precisely on November 20, 1957, in the wee hours of that fateful Tuesday which was heralded by the early morning, drizzle, a young lad was born into a Christian family at the rural, but sleepy riverine community of Otueke in Ogbia Local Government Area of the then Rivers State. Under the tutelage of disciplined parents and encouraged by his fast developing intelligence and thirst for academic knowledge, he was enrolled into St. Stephen Primary School, (now State School, Otueke) at a tender age of six. For reasons of convenience, he was later to move to St. Michael Primary School, Olosirii where he completed his primary education with distinction in 1968. Anointed as a blessed child following that early morning showers of blessing, the young child grew in leaps and bounds, becoming strong physically and academically that his paternally grandmother nick-named him Zik – ostensibly in appreciation of the exploit and influence of the great Zik of Africa, the now late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. Two years after his First School Leaving Certificate, he gained admission into Mater Dei High School, Imiringi where he consolidated on his solid academic foundation and leadership trait. In his Class Three in 1973, he was appointed Class Prefect and later Secretary of the School Food Committee, comprising the Hostel Master and Senior Students. His brilliant disposition boosted his rising leadership profile as he was later made House Prefect and Chairman, Committee of Prefects concurrently– a position he held until he graduated from the school in 1975 having recorded a good result in the School West African Examination Council (WAEC). Two years later, he was admitted as one of the pioneer students of Zoology at the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) in 1977 – the very year the institution was established – and graduated with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) Degree, Second Class Upper Division in 1981. After five years of interlude caused by the mandatory one year national service and some working experience both in the para–military and in the civil service, Jonathan pursued vigorously his post-graduate programmewhereupon he received a Masters Degree (M.Sc) in Hydrobiology and Fisheries Biology at the same Uniport in 1985.
Propelled by his long dream of academic fulfillment, he finally bagged a Doctorate Degree (Ph.D.) in Zoology from the same university in 1995. It was thus time for Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to put into practice what he had learnt within his 38 years of academic pursuit, punctuated though by the vagaries of life.
At the dawn of partisan politics in 1998 pitched camp with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and was picked from a long list of names as running mate to the party’s gubernatorial flagbearer, Chief Diepriye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha in the 1999 general election, which both of them won as governor and deputy governor respectively. As deputy governor, Jonathan worked tirelessly and selflessly, exposing his life and those of his family to great risk in the quest to remain loyal, which led to their being elected again into office for a second tenure in May 2003. Though young in politics with only about eight years experience, Goodluck unwavering commitment and dedication to duty earned him the Best Performing Deputy Governor Award in the country– a honour bestowed by the Institute of Public Administration (IPAN) in 2002. He belongs to many professional bodies and is a fellow of such bodies as the Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON), Public Administration of Nigeria; the International Association of Impact Assessment (IAIA), and the Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), in recognition of his strides in environmental management, as well as the Institute of Corporate Affairs Management in August 26, 2004.
Still on his long list of honours are the Exemplary Leadership Quality and Good Governance award by the National Association of Women in Education Development, just as the Abuja Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), conferred on him an honoury award for democracy and good governance in 2004. He was also conferred with so many chieftaincy titles, including the Keme-bidowei of Bayelsa on March 21, 2003.
Unlike the biblical Nabal, whose name was interpreted to mean “fool” by his wife, Abagial, following his behaviour towards David whose head was being sought by King Saul (1Samuel 25), Goodluck’s name actually translated to luck for him as he became the first deputy governor to step into the shoes of his boss in a manner deviod of selfish ambition, but orchestrated by pure divine grave.
And since he was sworn- in as governor of Bayelsa State on December 12, 2005 following the impeachment of his former boss, Alamieyeseigha, Jonathan has kept faith with his promise not to disappoint the people.
President Olusegun Obasanjo during his recent visit to the state last month could not hold back as he publicly acknowledged the excellent programme of this colossus.
Married to Patience Faka, an indigene of Okirika in Rivers State, Goodluck has by his excellent performance, won the heart of President Obasanjo, such that the president now use Goodluck as a reference point for other governors. Obviously, if the campaign already done by the president for the governor is to be relied upon, then Goodluck may just be waiting for a formal swearing-in on May 29, 2007 – as the second civilian governor of the 10-years old Bayelsa State.