Goodluck the Performer


  • Ebenezer Obadare University of Kansas


This paper names and analyzes the modes through which former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (2010–2015) established personal and regime legitimacy by performing the script of a humble, unassuming political outsider who was fortuitously thrust into the country’s highest office. Two related arguments are advanced. First: that President Jonathan consciously used his carefully staged performances to distract from his own insecurities and curry the support of the southern-based power bloc coalesced around the leading Pentecostal pastors and their congregations. Second: that the performances were aimed at engineering and sustaining civic empathy for a leader who, though favoured early on, became increasingly unpopular as time went on. The paper, anchored within the broader literature on the production of social acquiescence, illustrates both the potency and limitations of political performances as strategies of regime preservation.

Author Biography

Ebenezer Obadare, University of Kansas

Professor of Sociology, University of Kansas and Research Fellow, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa