Like his name, unexplained luck followed him almost his life. Unconfirmed tale had it that he had his first test with providence when he became head boy of his school following the expulsion of the head boy he was deputising. Luck smiled on him in 1999 when he became running mate to late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was then running for the gubernatorial seat of Bayelsa State. Entangled in a vicious political tussle with then Nigeria’s president, Olusegun Obasanjo, Alamieyeseigha lost his seat when he was impeached on the machination of Chief Obasanjo. Going by the dictates of the constitution, Jonathan became the governor of Bayelsa State and the trajectory of a man blessed with divine strokes continued. By 2007, Jonathan had become the vice president to late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who had defeated serial presidential contender, General Muhammadu Buhari. Umaru Yar’ Adua had barely settled in his government when he was hit by an illness that defied medical attention. The nation woke up one day to see Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as Nigeria’s President after Yar’ Adua caved into the cold embrace of death.
Goodluck as president in his early years was the symbol of young leadership, a total break from the feudal past. He was the beautiful reference of modern leadership. He was a darling reference amongst the young population, religious leaders venerated him, motivational speakers epitomised him, and entertainers used him in their lyrics as mothers named their children Goodluck. He was so loved, adored and appreciated that he won the 2011-generation elections with a frightening landslide. He holds the reference of one of the most loved Nigerian Presidents. This however changed tragically when on January 1, 2012, Nigerians woke up to a new bitter reality – the price of PMS jerked up to N87. The outrage that followed this ill-thought and daily timed increase led to the first foundation of Jonathan’s first destruct. He had drawn the first blood and Nigerians never forgave him.
Other occurrences joined to accelerate Goodluck Jonathan’s self-destruct. Chiefly amongst these was his handling of the Boko Haram debacle. From a weak defence strategy to poor political will and tacit leadership, he allowed the insurgents to take charge of the narrative. So vicious and daring were they that they wreaked deadly havoc on government establishments, worship centres, schools and even the United Nations Building in Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of government. The worst happened eventually when some boys in a secondary school in Burnin Yadi in Yobe State were marched out and slaughtered in their numbers. The nation had barely wriggled itself out of this human callousness when girls numbering over 200 were abducted in a school in Chibok area of Borno State. While the world wailed and called for action on the release of these girls, Goodluck looked away and waved the abduction as political stunts by political opponents. By the time he realised the enormity of his defiant stance, the girls had long gone where their journeys of excruciating realities were birthed. The Chibok girls’ saga was Jonathan’s greatest albatross and it was recorded as one of the traces of his self-destruct.
At the forefront of Mr Goodluck Jonathan’s self-destruct was the wife, his beautiful better half, who has witnessed and benefitted immensely from his phenomenal rise. Her uncouth postures spared no one, as elder statesmen, regions and others became menacing pawns in her hands. She was dreaded by all including states’ governors and ministers alike.
Undoubtedly, Mr Jonathan’s tacit and needless defence of corruption in his government showed him as a leader who was not interested in fighting the monster called corruption. He used every opportunity to defend corruption, protecting and giving legitimacy to corrupt practices. So defensive was he that he coined the infamous statement of ‘Stealing is not corruption’. And of course, this obstinate defence of the indefensible played out against him in his presidential voyage to return to power in 2015.
From a seeming gentleman, Mr Goodluck Jonathan transformed into mudslinging actor, with heavy deployment of media renegades, he attacked every pore of his main opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC). So vicious were the attacks on Buhari that Nigerians rose in fury calling for the heads of Jonathan’s media team. Buhari was shredded, maligned and left almost naked with unmitigated character demonisation.
As that man with divine backing, he did the unimaginable in 2015 when he conceded defeat to the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, General Muhammadu Buhari – a precedent rare in Africa’s political history. From that singular act, he assumed an immortal status, again, he became the world reference of nobility, leaders fall over themselves canonising him as editorials poured in across the globe. A world reference has been made and the name Goodluck Ebele Jonathan flies round in reverence, respect and honour. For three years, he has enjoyed this enviable status, until the release of his book titled, ‘My Transitions’. In that book, instead of maintaining the silence that has fetched him the larger than life status, he caved into human vindictiveness by pouring venom on everyone but himself. According to Rueben Abati, Jonathan spouts in constricted pains, ‘how Nigeria and vested interests treated him badly.’ He is the villain in the book: badly treated by entrenched interest groups, treacherous party members, propaganda and hate-driven opposition and a badly constructed political ecosystem.
Indeed the silence of Jonathan would have sustained him in the table of respect and honour. From his book, we can now see a man still in pains, filled with venom for perceived enemies and ready to fight back. In the end, he is not the hero we have come to believe. He is a man with a dagger in hand lurking around for vengeance.
The book launch was more than a birthday celebration; it was a centre stage for political warfare come 2019. And like in 2015, the actors are same people.