Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan was Nigeria’s 14th head of state and the immediate former president of the West African nation of about 170 million people, but that’s all common knowledge. It’s also common knowledge that he originally came into office after the former president fell ill.
Here are some lesser-known things worth learning about him:
Jonathan was born to a family of canoe makers
Jonathan was born in what is now Bayelsa State to a family of canoe makers. In the oil-rich Niger Delta region, this was a somewhat unusual occupation, and Goodluck made the even more rare decision not to follow in his parents’ footsteps.
His middle name means “God’s wish”
Jonathan’s middle name, Ebele, means “God’s wish,” suggesting his parents had pretty high expectations for him from the get-go. I mean, if your name is Goodluck God’s wish, you’ve got some high hopes to live up to, right?
He has a Ph.D in Zoology
Which might be a bit of an oddity for a sitting head of state. But Jonathan began with a bachelor’s degree in zoology, and followed up with an master’s in hydrobiology and fisheries biology and a Ph.D in zoology from the University of Port Harcourt. Who knows, maybe the Nigerian presidential office has a ton a pets!
He worked as an environmental protection officer before taking office
Among other things. Before entering into the political arena in 1998, Jonathan worked as an education inspector, a lecturer, and more memorably as an environmental protection officer. It was in this latter capacity that he stepped into the public light, serving as a watch dog on many corporations in the country.
He assumed the presidency following President Umaru Yar’Adua’s death on May 5 2010, but that wasn’t the first time he had to lead. In 1999, he was deputy governor for his home state of Bayelsa when the governor was impeached on corruption charges. Jonathan moved into the open position, beginning his more illustrious political career.
His fedora is one of his more memorable signature features
The fedora has character, but a former U.S. ambassador made the unfortunate comment that Jonathan lacked charisma and possessed an “underwhelming personality,” a slip of the tongue uncovered in the WikiLeaks scandal.
As vice president, he kept a low profile but was instrumental in several key moments
One of Jonathan’s niche roles was as a negotiator with his fellow Ijaws. He managed to help forge an agreement with militant groups in the Niger Delta to stop a rash of violence and encouraged them to lay down their weapons in exchange for amnesty, a move celebrated both by his administration and by citizens country wide.
After the Nigerian soccer team didn’t progress past the group stage at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Jonathan tried to implement a two-year ban on the team’s participation in international competition. He later backtracked due to pressure from FIFA, but it was pretty clear he wasn’t pleased with the performance.
Jonathan became the first sitting Nigerian president to have his own Facebook page
Jonathan launched his Facebook page in June 2010 to help better interact with the Nigerian people. He used it as a platform to announce his run for office in 2011, which would represent his first actual run for political election.
His wife has been investigated on money laundering allegations
Though she was never found guilty or convicted of any wrongdoing, Jonathan’s wife, Patience, was investigated by an anti-corruption committee in 2006. It was alleged she had tried to launder more than $13 million, but the evidence wasn’t strong enough for a conviction.
As known to the public for many years, Jonathan and his wife Patience have two children: a son named Ariweri Adolphus and a daughter named Aruabi. It is speculated that they were adopted from a motherless baby home, either in Lagos or Port Harcourt. The family is seen above gracing the cover of This Day Style magazine; according to many, these are not his only children
Not a big fan of the gays
In January of 2014, Jonathan followed the Ugandan and Kenyan trend by signing into action a bill which criminalizes same-sex unions, relationships, marriages, and activism. The penalty is 14 years in prison. Outcry and condemnation followed from US Secretary of Statae John Kerry, and countries like Britain, which threatened to cut off aid.
He was going to rename the University of Lagos During the Democracy Day broadcast of 2012, President Jonathan announced that he would change the name of University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University, paying homage to the late Chief M.K.I. Abiola. The news was met with protest and outcry from the students and staff of the university, and a lawsuits were filed against the Federal Government. The decision was finally reverted, and the original title for the university will remain.
The missing funds
In March of 2014, Jonathan ordered forensic auditing into the disappearance of over $20 billion in funds by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Pressure was put on Jonathan to instigate the auditing by the finance minister, and there is speculation that he wouldn’t have pursued this matter without prodding. Questions also arise over Jonathan’s suspension of Nigeria’s central bank governor Lamido Sansui (pictured above) in February, as to whether or not the punishment happened because Sansui opened his mouth about the missing billions. Sansui claims that the money was re-directed into a 2015 campaign budget for Jonathan.