The Men who'll change Nigeria in 2015

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Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (PDP)

President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

Date of Birth: 20/11/1957
Place of Birth: Bayelsa

Education: St Stephen’s Primary School, Otuoke, 1961-65; St Michael’s Primary School, Oloibiri, 1966-69; Mater Dei High School, Imiringi, 1971-75; BSc, Zoology, University of Port Harcourt, 1977-81; MSc, Hydrobiology, University of Port Harcourt, 1983-84; PhD, Zoology, University of Port Harcourt, 1987-95.

Career: Preventive Officer, Department of Customs and Excise, 1975-77; Science Inspector, Education, Rivers State Ministry of Education, Port Harcourt, 1982-83; Lecturer, Department of Biology, Rivers State College of Education, Port Harcourt, 1983-93; Department of Environment Protection, Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), 1993-98; Deputy Governor, Bayelsa State, 1999-2005; Governor, Bayelsa State, 2005-2007; Vice-President, Nigeria, 2007 to date, Acting President, Nigeria, February 2010 to date.


Commentary: Jonathan’s spectacular political ascent, from Deputy Governor to Governor to Vice-President (all within two years), began when then Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was impeached for violating money laundering codes. Because Jonathan is Ijaw, like most of the militant groups in the Niger Delta, it was believed his selection as Vice-President would reduce attacks by militants. But on 18 May 2007, militants attacked his country home, killing two policemen. Jonathan was not there at the time. 

In February 2010, Nigeria's National Assembly promoted Jonathan from Vice-President to Acting President, suspending President Umaru Yar’Adua, who had been attempting to rule from a hospital ward in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, since November 2009. Jonathan was sworn in as Head of State on 6 May 2010, following the death of President Yar'Adua in Abuja.

He won the PDP presidential nomination of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on 14 January with an unexpected 77% of the votes. Jonathan, the insiders quickly learned, had promised all first-term state governors that they would have the PDP nomination for their second terms in return for their support of his presidential nomination. All 26 duly obliged and Jonathan’s nomination was secure. The betting is that Jonathan as the PDP candidate is on course to win the presidency in April. Unlike Ghana, incumbents in Nigeria do not lose elections. After Buhari’s convincing campaign in the North, the parties will now focus on developing much stronger alliances there ahead of the presidential vote. Goodluck Jonathan has yet to persuade Nigeria that he is a national rather than a Niger Delta leader. Doing that will be harder than winning the primaries

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