Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, arrives in T&T today for a three-day state visit.
The president, accompanied by First Lady Patience Faka Jonathan and a 70-member delegation, will arrive at Piarco International Airport at 5 pm to a formal Military Guard of Honour. The welcoming party will be led by President George Maxwell Richards and will include Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and members of Cabinet. During his visit to T&T, the Nigerian president will take part in Emancipation celebrations tomorrow. He will also hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar and her Cabinet, on trade and energy related matters with a view to further developing partnerships between the two countries. Persad-Bissessar will also host a lunch in his honour on Thursday at the Diplomatic Centre. This will be the second official meeting of the two Heads of Government. Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar and President Jonathan met and held discussions in Australia, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in October 2011. Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCFR), was born to a humble Niger Delta family of canoe makers on November 20, 1957, in Otuoke. He was the third of nine children of Lawrence and Eunice Jonathan, of which only he and his elder sister Obebatien survived.
He began his primary education at St Stephen’s Primary School and later moved to St Michael’s Primary School, Oloibiri, where he completed his elementary education in 1969, at the age of 12. His leadership traits developed during his secondary school days. In 1973, while in Form Three, he was appointed class prefect and secretary of the Food Committee, an administrative body of hostel masters and senior students. In 1975, he obtained his West African School Certificate from the Mater Dei High School, Imiringi, passing with a distinction. On completion of his secondary education, Jonathan worked as a preventive officer with the Nigerian Customs Service for two years. In 1977, he began his tertiary level studies at the Department of Zoology in the newly established University of Port Harcourt. He graduated with Second Class Upper honours in 1981. In 1985 and 1995 Jonathan studied for his master’s and PhD degrees in Hydrobiology and Fisheries Biology, and Zoology respectively, from the same university. With the creation of the Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) in October 1992, Dr Jonathan was called to serve as assistant director, Ecology, in March 1993 in the Directorate of Environmental Protection and Pollution Control. He was in charge of the Environmental Protection Sub-Department of the Commission. He voluntarily left the service of the Commission in 1998 and ventured into politics as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he was the running mate to the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. The duo was triumphant in the 1999 governorship election, and Dr Jonathan stepped into office as the first deputy governor of Bayelsa State.
After a successful tenure, Dr Jonathan repeated the feat. The duo won the gubernatorial elections again, in 2003 and Dr Jonathan began a second term. When his boss was impeached on corruption charges, Dr Jonathan took over as governor and two years later he was busy preparing for re-election to his first full term as substantive governor of Bayelsa state. When the PDP nominated him as running mate to the presidential candidate, he and Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua were elected in April and inaugurated on May 29, 2007. President Yar’Adua left Nigeria in November 2009 for medical treatment. He did not provide for anyone to assume his duties. On January 13, 2010, a federal court handed Vice-President Jonathan the power to carry out state affairs during the president’s continued absence. In February 2010 Dr Jonathan was appointed to serve as acting president until Yar’Adua returned to full health. He became the president of Nigeria on May 6, 2010, when Yar’Adua died after a prolonged illness. Over the years Dr Jonathan has earned numerous awards in Nigeria, including the Best Performing Deputy Governor Award, as well as the Honorary Award for Democracy and Good Governance. For his contributions to environmental management, he was given the prestigious Honorary Fellowship of the Nigerian Environmental Society. Dr Jonathan is a member of various professional associations around the world and is a Fellow of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria, Fellow of the Public Administrators of Nigeria, Fellow, International Association of Impact Assessment, IAIA, and Fellow, Institute of Corporate Affairs Management. He is also a member, Science Teachers Association of Nigeria, and Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International. Additionally, the Nigerian Union of Teachers voted him the “Best Performing Governor in Education in the South-South” in 2006. Dr Jonathan has two children, Aruabai Jonathan and Adolphus Ariweri Jonathan.