Goodluck Jonathan Living Up to His Name: Frederick Mordi Charts the Rise and Rise of One of Nigeria's Most Enigmatic Political Leaders

By Mordi, Frederick | African Business, June 2011 | Go to article overview

Goodluck Jonathan Living Up to His Name: Frederick Mordi Charts the Rise and Rise of One of Nigeria's Most Enigmatic Political Leaders


Mordi, Frederick, African Business


PERHAPS, THERE ARE FEW MEN IN political history that are as lucky as Nigeria's incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, who seems to have the gift of being at the right place at the right time.

Indeed, the former zoologist turned politician has literally lived up to his name, 'Goodluck', at the most crucial moments. For instance, in 2005, when the former Governor of his home state, Bayelsa, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, was impeached over money laundering charges, it was Jonathan, then his deputy, who succeeded him.

His winning streak continued in 2007, when former President, Chief Olusegun Oba-sanjo, hand-picked him from the governors of the 17 Southern States in the country to be the running mate of the late President Umaru Yar'Adua.

Otherwise, Jonathan would probably not have stood any chance against his highly influential fellow governors, particularly those from the South geo-political zone, where he hails from, as choice of Vice-President. His humble mien and perhaps his 'good luck,' gave him the ticket on a platter of gold. Yar'Adua and Jonathan won a landslide victory at the polls. But Yar'Adua's health problems often made him seek medical attention abroad. Tn November 2010, the ailing President was flown out of the country to Saudi Arabia for treatment. His long stay in there caused a vacuum in the polity as Nigeria's political elite declined to accept Jonathan as acting leader.

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Finally, after months of intense power play, he was reluctantly recognised as Acting President in February 2010. Yar'Adua's return to the country and the official confirmation that he was still too sick to preside over the affairs of the country, cleared the way for Jonathan to assume duty.

On 6th May 2010, Jonathan was sworn in as Nigeria's President, following the eventual demise of his principal the previous day. The National Assembly also endorsed his nomination of former Kaduna State Governor, Architect Namadi Sambo, for the position of Vic-President, on i8lh May 2010. As if to prove that his string of successes so far is not a fluke, Jonathan declared his intention to vie for the seat of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in September of that year.

Upsetting the cosy arrangement

However this decision did not go down well with some people, particularly from the northern part of the country, who felt that a Jonathan candidacy would upturn the alleged zoning arrangement put in place by his party--the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP).

The 'rotational presidency' theory vigorously championed by the PDP was ostensibly designed to ensure a balance of power between the predominantly Christian South and the largely Muslim North, every eight years. But the fact that the zoning formula is not enshrined in the nation's constitution gave Jonathan the leeway to contest. Even then, pro-zoning elements vehemently kicked against his resolution.

The matter was eventually settled at the PDP Presidential primaries held on 14th January 2011, where Jonathan floored Atiku Abubakar, Obasanjo's Vice-President and consensus candidate of the North for the 2011 Presidential election.

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Jonathan emerged as PDP's presidential flag bearer by chalking up yy% of valid votes cast. …

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