by Adedayo Ademuwagun
A lot of people say there’s a story behind every name. Perhaps they’re right.
A couple of years ago, many Nigerian parents named their sons Goodluck while things dramatically shaped up nicely for Goodluck Jonathan. Philomena and Bimpe are two mothers who did this too. Now they tell their story.
“I had my son in 2009,” says Philomena. “My husband was very sick at the time I was pregnant and our son’s birth coincided with his recovery. So he named him Goodluck and I supported the decision.”
“When Goodluck Jonathan became the president the following year, it was a pleasant coincidence. I thought it was a good omen, that my son too was going to have good fortune in future and that things will turn out well for him. I thought he too will rise high in life even if he doesn’t become the president.”
Bimpe says, “I had my son in 2010, the year Goodluck became president. It wasn’t originally my idea nor my husband’s. My father gave him the name. He said to me and my husband, ‘You can see what’s happening in the country. You can see how Goodluck has risen to the top and how things have turned out in his favour. My grandson will be like that. My grandson will be Goodluck.’ So we stuck with the name.”
President Goodluck’s rise to the presidency was inspiring — and cinematic. He started from an obscure background and became the deputy governor of his state, Bayelsa. Then Governor Alameseigha was removed and he got bumped up to be governor. Soon, while he was about his business quietly in Yenagoa, he got picked to be Umar Yaradua’s running mate at the 2007 presidential elections. Then they won that election and he became the vice president.
Yaradua became terminally ill along the line and eventually passed on. So Jonathan got bumped up again to succeed the late president. That was how he became the president without a single vote in his name. No one saw that coming.
Quickly, he earned the Nigerian people’s respect. His popularity shot up. From the east to the west, people just loved this new president who wears a hat and seems to have a history of good fortune. It soon became fascinating to have a child named Goodluck.
“You know that moment when you meet someone at an event and they’re like, ‘Is that your son, oh beautiful. What’s his name?’ Then you say, ‘Goodluck’, and they’re like “Aha! You named him after our president.’ It was really amusing.”
Philomena says there were several mothers carrying their own Goodluck at the polling booth she went to vote during the 2011 presidential election. Needless to say, Goodluck won the election.
Goodluck had made a good first impression and now had the people’s mandate. But as the insurgency raged on and the bloodshed persisted, it soon eclipsed his good side and his rating began to drop. Plus the masses didn’t feel their life was getting better, and they soon became disillusioned about the president’s good luck.
“People began to react cynically to my son’s name,” Bimpe says. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, is it because of the president that you named your son Goodluck? Alright look at what’s happening in the country during his government and see what he’s doing about it. That’s whom you’ve named your son after?
“I try to explain to people that we named our son Goodluck before Goodluck Jonathan even became president, but they won’t listen. It got to a point that when I enrolled the boy in school, I wanted to change his name so it won’t attract unwanted attention. But my older children said I should leave it like that.”
Philomena says, “People think Goodluck is a bad leader. But I think he’s not. I feel there are many enemies around him who don’t want him to be there. They want to ruin his tenure. That’s why they’re causing all these things to happen to tarnish his government.
“I also feel he has bad advisers. He surrounds himself with the wrong people who don’t advise him rightly. But to me he’s a good man who wants good things for Nigeria. I still support him.”
So when this generation of little Goodlucks grow up and learn the story behind their name, will they thank their parents?
Anyhow, let’s find out if Philomena or Bimpe has had some special luck in their family since their son Goodluck was born.
Nancy says, “Well it’s not like there’s been some special luck yet. However, there’s been some progress in the family — and I guess that’s okay for now.”