Childhood & Early Life
He was born on 20 November 1957 in Ogbia, Nigeria. His father, Lawrence Ebele Jonathan was a poor canoe maker. His mother Eunice had given birth to several children, but only a few survived their childhood. Therefore his father named him “Goodluck” hoping that this child would change the fortunes of the family.
He received his early education from local Christian primary and secondary schools. Then he studied zoology at the University of Port Harcourt, earning a B.S. in 1981.
A good student, he pursued higher education and completed his M.S. in hydrobiology and fisheries biology in 1985. He received his Ph.D. in zoology in 1995.
While studying at the university he also taught at Rivers State College of Education from 1983 until 1993.
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In 1993, he was appointed as an assistant director at the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, a post he held till 1998. By now he had also worked as an education inspector and environmental-protection officer.
He entered politics in the late 1990s when he became involved with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), an emerging political party. Under the party’s banner he was elected deputy governor of Bayelsa state in 1999.
As the deputy governor he worked alongside Diepreye Alamieyeseigha who was selected as the governor of the state. In 2005, the incumbent governor Alamieyeseigha was accused of money laundering in the United Kingdom and thus Jonathan was sworn in as the governor.
In 2007, he was selected to be the vice presidential running mate of the PDP’s presidential candidate, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. They were both elected and took their respective offices in May.
As Vice-President he was by statute, a member of the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, the Federal Executive Council, and the Chairman of National Economic Council.
As Vice-President, he played an important role in negotiating with militants in the Niger delta, who were fighting against petroleum companies operating in the delta region. In spite of holding such a high office he remained in the political background and maintained a low-profile.
His duties significantly rose in 2010 when the incumbent President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua started suffering from serious health problems. Yar’Adua was often away from the country for his medical treatment and the governance of the country suffered because of this.
Members of Nigeria’s National Assembly voted to have Jonathan assume full powers of the president and serve as the acting president until the incumbent president was able to resume his duties. Thus Jonathan became the Acting President in February 2010.
As the Acting President he asserted his power by reshuffling Yar’Adua’s cabinet. The Labour Minister Prince Adetokunbo Kayode was named Minister of Justice while the incumbent Minister of Justice Mike Aondoakaa was named as the Minister of Special Duties. Jonathan also promised to continue implementing the Seven-point agenda policy framework of President Umaru Musa Yar’adua.
President Yar’adua died on 5 May, 2010 and Jonathan was sworn in as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the following day, thus becoming Nigeria's 14th Head of State.
Jonathan became the president under sad circumstances. Nevertheless, he immediately began his work as the president to bring about more efficient governance. He announced that his administration would focus on the issues of anti-corruption and electoral reforms.
He launched his 'Roadmap for Power Sector Reform in August 2010 in order to achieve stable electricity supply in Nigeria. In October 2011 he launched the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN) Initiative for harnessing the creative energies of young people between the ages of 18 and 35.