The new vice president of Nigeria, Muhammad Namadi Sambo was confirmed in his position Tuesday 18th May by the two chambers of the National Assembly. It followed the burial of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua which sad event took place May 5th 2010.
A number of personalities jostled for the position and were talked about and discussed. For instance Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the National Security Adviser, Lt Gen Aliyu Mohammed Gusau and Governor Mohammad Danjuma Goje of Gombe State. Isa Yuguda, son in law to late President Yar’Adua and the Governor of Bauchi State, and Saidu Dakingari, another in-law of the Yar’Aduas and Governor of Kebbi State were also discussed. Others included the Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Muktar Shagari , Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, Governor of Niger State and his counterpart from Kwara and Adamawa States respectively , Dr. Bukola Saraki , Murtala Nyako and former Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, were all at one time or the other mentioned for consideration for the plum job.
But in a surprise and unexpected move, President Jonathan settled for a relatively unknown personality, the Governor of Kaduna State in North Central Nigeria, Namadi Sambo. In a meeting he held with state governors, the President informed them that he had settled for one of them as his choice for VP, which did not come as a surprise, but the man in question was what actually took everyone by surprise.
Although the other governors kept a bold face and applauded the choice, it was obvious that majority of them, including other Nigerians could not easily comprehend the rationale behind Jonathan’s choice of a dark horse who was not known to be tied to the apron string of any godfather. Born in 1952, Sambo kept a low profile until ‘06 when he surprised everybody with his forage into politics and his subsequent election as governor. Even as governor, he continued to play a low key role in governance and in politics. What then must have informed the choice of this greenhorn as nominee for VP?
Many Northerners are not comfortable with this choice which they felt was done deliberately to enable Jonathan continue to exert formidable hold on power, a situation this group of people argue will give him considerable leverage in 2011, should he decide to contest. As a relatively knew and inexperienced politician, Namadi is seen as somebody who will only do the bidding of his boss rather than show interest in the position of president which the Northerners still claim the slot for 2010. A strong VP they argue will definitely place himself in vantage position to gun for the position of president, a situation, they noted Jonathan cannot accommodate.
Consistent with previous actions of the current president, it is becoming clearer that certain actions being taken are politically motivated and aimed at giving the president considerable hold on the nation’s political machinery. For example, only recently Prof Maurice Iwu was sacked as INEC Chairman ahead of the end of his tenure, this is being viewed as a deliberate move to replace this most maligned INEC Chairman with Jonathan’s crony. The same argument is being adduced in the case of the National Chairman of the PDP, Vincent Ogbulafor who is being tried for corruption and forced to resign from the ruling party. Ogbulafor’s sin was that he had advised the president not to contemplate contesting for president in 2011 because the party’s zoning system had allocated the position to the north, the death of Yar’adua notwithstanding.
Similar issues being brought to fore include the plight of embattled former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori who was reputed to have immensely bankrolled the Campaign of the Late Yar’adua and a man whom the new President feels is a threat to his political ambition. He was declared wanted in April this year by the EFCC but managed to escape to Dubai where he was arrested through an International warrant issued by the London Met Police. The EFCC is bent on having him repatriated.
Not known to be ambitious, Namadi Sambo, may be of little political premium to Jonathan in case the duo decide to go for a joint ticket. Also, Namadi may not have the requisite political dexterity needed to assist the President, himself not vastly experienced in such matters, in piloting the ship of state successfully. Definitely, this combination is a marriage of strange bed fellows and the North which is still smarting from the loss of Yar’adua and with him, temporarily the position of President and Commander in Chief is watching and waiting while Jonathan continues to assert himself.