President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan was born on November 20, 1957 in Otuoke in Ogbia Local Government Area of the then Eastern Region, later Rivers State, and now, Bayelsa State to a family of canoe makers. Many Ethnic groups in Nigeria have a naming tradition where a child’s name "often expresses the parents' expectations for the child or the circumstances surrounding its birth". His father, Pa. Ebele Jonathan, said the name Goodluck came to him after his son was born when he "instinctively realized that this child was an element of fortune". He also gave him the name 'Azikiwe' the name of the first Executive President of Nigeria.
The young Jonathan attended St. Stephen's Primary School, and St. Michael's Primary School, both in Otuoke before proceeding to The Mater Dei High School, Imiringi for his primary and secondary education. Jonathan attended the University of Port Harcourt where he graduated in 1981 with a Second Class Upper Division in Zoology. He continued his education at the same institution and obtained a Masters Degree (M.Sc.) in Hydrology and Fisheries Biology and thereafter a Doctorate Degree in Zoology.
He is married to Dame Patience Faka and they are blessed with two children, Aruabai Jonathan, a daughter and Ado Aruera Jonathan, a son.
Before his entry into politics in 1998, he worked both in the public and private sectors of the economy. Shortly after his secondary education in 1975, he worked with the Customs and Excise Department as a Preventive Officer up till 1977, when he gained admission into the University of Port Harcourt to study Zoology. On graduation, he taught in a secondary school for his one year mandatory National Youth Service in Iresi, (old Oyo State,) Osun State, South West Nigeria. Thereafter, he took up a teaching appointment with the old Rivers State Civil Service Commission. He later worked as an Inspector of Science Education and thereafter moved to the Department of Biological Sciences at the Rivers State College of Education as a Lecturer.
In 1993, he was appointed Assistant Director (Ecology) of the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Area Development Commission (OMPADEC) in charge of Environmental Protection. He resigned his appointment to join partisan politics in 1998. He was Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State from May 29, 1999 until December 12, 2005 when he was sworn-in as Governor to replace Governor, D.S.P Alamieseigha. He became Vice-President of the country on May 29, 2007, then, Acting President on February 9, 2010 until the unfortunate demise of President Umaru Yar'Adua on May 5, 2010. He was sworn-in on May 6, 2010, as the President, Commander - in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
The President's tenure as Vice-President was distinguished through his negotiations with militants in the Niger Delta, under the Federal Government's Amnesty Programme. Many of the major militant groups have since laid down their weapons as pre-condition for the amnesty. Dr. Jonathan is a member of several professional bodies including Fellow, Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON), Fellow, Public Administrators of Nigeria, Fellow, International Association of Impact Assessment; and Fellow, Nigeria Environmental Society.
Dr. Jonathan has received several local and international awards. He was voted the Best Performing Deputy Governor in 2002 by IPAN; was given 'Democracy and Good Governance award by the Nigeria Union of Journalists in 2004. The Africa International News magazine league conferred on him the 'Niger Delta Development Award'; the Nigerian Bar Association, gave him the 'Distinguished Personality' Award in 2006 and the All African Students Union in South Africa, gave him the 'Africa Leadership Award, 2006. The Nigerian Union of Teachers voted him the 'Best Performing Governor in Education in the South-South' in 2006. He was also recognized by the International Federation for World Peace (IFWP) in 2006 with 'Ambassador for Peace Merit Award' as well as the Leadership and Good Governance Merit.
On January 14, 2011, President Jonathan was overwhelmingly elected as the Presidential flag-bearer of the People's Democratic Party for the 2011 Presidential election by 77.7% of votes cast by his party members. During the General Election of April 16 2011, he contested against other candidates namely Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) amongst others and won the presidential election which was adjudged free, fair and transparent by both local and international observers with about 60% of the votes cast.