The jostling for a new Vice President has come to an end with the nomination of Kaduna State governor, Namadi Sambo. His name was apparently sent to the National Assembly for approval, although no formal announcement was made as at the time of publication. Although he is a Northern Muslim, Sambo is an unknown, and his selection only reinforces that Goodluck Jonathan intends to run for President in the upcoming 2011 elections.
THE POLITICAL MANEUVERING
Even before Yar'Adua's death was announced, the maneuvering for the deputy position had begun. But, with the formal burial on May 6th, various groups aggressively insisted on who they believed should be the Vice President. Initially, rumors swirled that Nuhu Ribadu, the former Chair of the nation's anti-corruption watchdog, was considered for the position. Another individual mentioned was Speaker of the Senate, David Mark. Members of the House of Representatives argued for a candidate from the Northwest of the country, but Dimeji Bankole, head of the House, apparently insisted on a peer, Gombe State representative Bayero Usman Nafada. Sule Lamido, the governor of Jigawa State and the current National Security Adviser Aliyu Gusau were also mentioned as top contenders for the post.
THE POLITICAL COMPROMISE
Of all the lobbying groups, the Governors Forum won with the selection of their member Sambo. The Governors are very powerful group and their support helped Jonathan ascend to the acting President seat when yar'Adua's absence created a leadership vacuum in early 2010. However, the success of the Governor's Forum came at a price. In order to have one of their own selected for the Vice President position, they had to relinquish their support for Vincent Ogbulafor, the Chairman of the ruling party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP). Ogbulafor faces corruption charges that were initiated only after Jonathan gained executive powers. The Governor's Forum stood firmly behind him, despite calls for him to step down in the face of the allegations. However, by May 12th, hours before Sambo's name was sent to the National Assembly, the Governor's Forum publicly asked Ogbulafor to quit. Although he resisted, Ogbulafor quickly realized that he had little choice as he no longer had the protection of the powerful group and announced his resignation on May 13th, 2010.
THE BABANGIDA CONNECTION
According to the BBC, Jonathan's potential Vice President, Namadi Sambo, is "an ally of former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida." Babangida (IBB) announced on April 12th, 2010 that he would run for President and began to canvass support across the country. The nomination of a Vice President that is an ally of IBB's serves to isolate any support he would have received as groups and individuals will have little guilt falling behind 'Babangida's boy' and what could be the winning ticket in 2011 if Jonathan runs for President with Sambo as his running mate. If Sambo were to become Vice President, IBB's Presidential aspirations would be dead before they ever really took flight.
THE NORTH SOUTH DICHOTOMY
The ruling PDP party has an agreement within its ranks that Presidential power will always fluctuate between the nation's Northern and Southern regions. With Yar'Adua's death, the party pledged to field a Northern candidate in 2011. As a result, Jonathan technically had to select a Northerner as his deputy in order for that individual to run as President. Despite this, the fact that Sambo is an unknown suggests that Jonathan will instead run for President in 2011 with Sambo as his running mate. If they were to win the election, Sambo, a Northerner, would be in a position to eventually run for President, campaigning on any successes that he and Jonathan achieved. There is little reason to believe that Jonathan will not contest in the 2011 election and already a Presidential aide revealed that he is likely to run. Jonathan is yet to confirm this, however.
Namadi Sambo is likely to become the next Vice President of Nigeria. His selection was the result of a political compromise that advanced Jonathan's anti-corruption credentials. His position as an unknown ensures that he will play deputy to Jonathan even during the 2011 elections, assuming Jonathan announces his run. And, if they were to win in 2011, Namadi Sambo could be poised to become the most powerful man in Nigeria as he would have been groomed for a future Presidential bid and have the necessary name recognition and support of millions.
UPDATE: President Jonathan formally sent Namadi Sambo's name to the National Assembly on May 14th, 2010. The House of Representatives will consider Sambo's nomination on Tuesday, May, 18th.
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