It is 802 days since former President, Goodluck Jonathan, PhD, handed over power to the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, a man presumed to have no WAEC certificate.
In this report, WALE ELEGBEDE chronicles the bittersweet experiences of the ex-President ,since he bade Aso Rock goodbye
Names are markers. They are a lens in identifying who we are and whose we are. While others are assiduously praying for luck, former President Goodluck Jonathan already had luck in his name, and it worked for him, especially in his political career.
Unlike the biblical Nabal, whose name was interpreted to mean “fool” by his wife, Abigail, Goodluck’s name actually translated to luck for him in three significant periods of his life. He became the first Deputy Governor and Vice President, to step into the shoes of his bosses, in a manner that looks supernatural.
He was also overwhelmingly supported to be President in 2011, across all divides. In his 17 years of political voyage, he was never elected to major public office in his own right except in 2011, when he won his first election as president.
His second attempt in 2015 failed. Born in 1957 in the sleepy riverine community of Otueke in Ogbia Local Government Area of the then Rivers State, now Bayelsa State, the ex-President has lived his name, especially in his meteoritic rise in politics.
By all degrees of assessment, Dr. Jonathan has a rich, lively story to tell. The saying, from grass to grace, succinctly captured the trajectory of his life. Coming from a background where his family trade is canoe-making, it didn’t come as a surprise when the ex-President told all that cares to listen that he had no shoes while growing up – a moniker that earned him substantial popularity ahead of the 2011 election.
With his primary education taking place at St. Stephen Primary School, (now State School, Otueke) and St. Michael Primary School, Olosirii, where he completed with distinction in 1968, Jonathan gained admission into Mater Dei High School, Imiringi, where he graduated with a good result in the School West African Examination Council (WAEC).
He was later 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.
He later received a Masters Degree (M.Sc) in Hydrobiology and Fisheries Biology at the same Uniport in 1985. He was later propelled by his long dream of academic attainment as he bagged a Doctorate Degree (Ph.D.) in Zoology from the same university in 1995. After 38 years of academic pursuit, Jonathan decided to give a shot at politics and he calculated right. From 1998 that he delved into active politics, it was a cruise ride until 2015 when the Buhari effect punctured his political journey.
His first shot was in 1999 when he was elected as the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, alongside the former Governor of the State, late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. But fate threw leadership on his path when his principal, Alamieyeseigha, was impeached for corruption. Jonathan was sworn- in as governor of Bayelsa State on December 12, 2005. Two years later, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, picked him to run on the PDP’s ticket as Vice Presidential candidate in 2007 alongside former President Umaru Yar’Adua.
But as fate will also have it again, Yar’Adua fell ill and later died, providence also made him to be Acting President and President. He was also to contest in 2011 and 2015. After voluntarily bowing out of Aso Rock in 2015, it has been one title, one day for the ex-President. The incumbent government and its supporters have largely described Jonathan’s government as corrupt. According to The Economist, corruption flourished under Jonathan’s administration “who let politicians and their cronies fill their pockets with impunity.”
In less than two years, former President Jonathan has seen all sorts, in fact, his experiences with people and issues over the last two years are a clear departure from what obtained while he was in the government houses in Yenagoa and Abuja. From the controversy surrounding his wife, Dame Patience, over the ownership of a sum of $5.8 million in a case on which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) issued a no debit/freezing order, the travails of his former National Security Adviser (NSA) over a $2.1 billion arms deal scandal, to the trial of his cousin, Mr. Robert Azibaola and his wife, Stella, over an alleged $40 million contract scam. Also, some of his political allies came and still on the searchlight of anti-graft agencies.
Even his godson, an ex–Special Adviser to an erstwhile Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), George Turnah, was not left out of the probes. Perhaps, he knew what will befall him after leaving office, Jonathan advised his successor at a valedictory session of his cabinet on May 27, 2015, not to single out his administration out for the probe. Jonathan insisted then that if Buhari must investigate him and his administration, he should do the same for past governments in Nigeria else such probe would be seen as a witch-hunt.
Though Buhari did not respond to the call, he later allayed the fear of witch-hunt after his inauguration, but insisted that it would only make sense to look into the activities of the immediate past government rather than delving into all other past administrations.
Aside probes, the former President has had to deal with betrayals and backlashes even from his former allies who praised him to the high heavens while he was in power. Also, his son-in-law, Prince Goodwill Edward, was shot by unknown gunmen in Calabar last month.
Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, came under intense backlash lately when he said that the six years of Jonathan Presidency was a wasted opportunity for the Ijaw people. Dickson is one of the politicians that benefited from Jonathan’s influence. In an excerpt of a book “Against The Run of Play”, written by the Chairman of ThisDay Editorial Board and former Spokesperson of late President, Umaru Yar’Adua, Olusegun Adeniyi, the former President was quoted to have accused a former Chairman of his party, Adamu Mu’azu, and security operatives of betrayal, “Take, for instance, the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu. I believe he joined in the conspiracy against me. For reasons best known to him, he helped to sabotage the election in favour of the opposition.”
Also, the former President was also disgraced in the heat of the PDP crisis, when the party’s former Chairman, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff, walked out of him at a party’s stakeholder meeting he organised to settle the crisis in the party Perhaps, the stain on his shirt got noticed last week when six Policemen ransacked his Gwarinpa, Abuja house and totally stripped bare the four-bedroom duplex which he bought from CITEC estate developers in 2004.
The thieves, among which are four Policemen, are said to have stolen every movable item in the house, including furniture sets, beds, electronics, toilet and electrical fittings, as well as all internal doors and frames. For Jonathan, the reality is clear and obvious. The people will act differently to leaders in power and out of power.