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GOVERNORS DISAGREE ON CONSENSUS VP

By NBF NEWS
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There were indications on Sunday that the 36 state governors in the country were sharply divided on the appointment of a vice-president by President Goodluck Jonathan.

It was learnt that while some of the governors, especially those from the North, wanted one of them as vice-president, their colleagues from the South, canvassed that Jonathan should be allowed to freely make his choice.

Our correspondents learnt of this just as feelers from Abuja on Sunday showed that the 26 Peoples Democratic Party governors and the Senate might also clash over who becomes the vice-president.

The PDP caucus is,however, expected to meet in Abuja on Tuesday to deliberate on the selection of the vice-president. The caucus comprises the President; the governors; the Chairman of the PDP BOT, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; the National Chairnan, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor; the National Secretary, Prof Rufai Alkali; and the Principal Officers of the National Assembly who are PDP members.

A close associate of a governor in the South-South told one of our correspondents on Sunday that the Northern governors canvassed that the Governor's Forum should decide on one of its members that would be presented to Jonathan for approval and the National Assembly for confirmation.

The source said that the Chairman of the forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Thursday made frantic efforts to convince his colleagues, that the name of one of them be unanimously agreed upon and be presented to Jonathan on Monday (today).

He disclosed that Southern governors, particularly those from the oil-rich South-South, insisted that the forum should not be deployed to stampede Jonathan into action on the choice of the vice-president.

According to him, the Southern governors argued that the constitutional provision that the President be allowed to pick his running mate should be respected by the forum.

The source said, 'There is a division among the governors on the choice of the vice-president by the President. The governors of the Northern states are finding it difficult to convince their colleagues from the South that one of them should be expressly presented to the President for appointment as vice-president.

'The governors from the South are saying that it is not proper that a candidate be imposed on the President. The governors are of the opinion that the President should be freely allowed to decide who he can work with without rancour.

'The southern governors said it would not be proper to trample on the rights of the President to appoint and recommend his vice-president to the National Assembly for confirmation.

'There is a stalemate on the decision on the choice of the vice-president in the Governor's Forum but we hope that the controversy will be resolved at the next meeting of the body.'

The governors forum is expected to meet in Abuja on Monday (today) for a final decision on the matter. There were reports on Saturday that Jonathan might name a vice-president on Tuesday.

It was also learnt on Sunday that PDP governors and Senators might clash over who should be presented by Jonathan as vice-president.

As part of strategies to make sure that the President agreed with their choice, our correspondents learnt that the PDP governors, who failed to choose a consensus candidate, met with him on Saturday night.

The meeting was said to have been held between 10.30pm and 1am and was attended by 22 governors of the PDP.

However, the following governors — Alhaji Ibrahim Shema(Katsina); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Martin Elechi (Ebonyi); Ibrahim Idris(Kogi);and Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun) — were said to have been absent from the meeting.

Our correspondents gathered that governors, at the meeting, pledged their loyalty to the President and asked him to chose one of them as vice-president.

A source close to the meeting said that Jonathan did not give his word to the governors but merely thanked them and said he would make sure that he chose someone capable.

One of the governors, who did not want his name in print, said that with the way the President spoke, they (governors) were not sure that the President would accede to their demand.

The governor said, 'If what we observed is anything to go by, then the President may not pick his deputy from among us. The choice of the vice-president will tell Nigerians where President Jonathan will go during the 2011 election.'

Asked what was their reason for wanting one of them to be made a vice-president, the governor, who is from North Central, alluded to 'tradition.'

He said Nigerians should remember that the last two vice- presidents were a governor-elect and a governor.

'It would be better if Jonathan should maintain the tradition,' he argued.

The governor was referring to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who was picked by a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, as his running mate after he (Abubakar) had won the governorship election in Adamawa State; and Jonathan, who became the running mate of the late former President Umaru Yar'Adua after he had won the primary of the PDP to contest the governorship poll in Bayela State.

The governor said he and his colleagues were rooting for a governor from the North-East and another from the North-West. He added that Jonathan would, however, have the last say on who became his deputy.

It was also learnt that the principal officers of the Senate might meet Sunday night to decide on the matter.

A member of the Senate, who spoke with some reporters in Abuja on Sunday, said that it would be wrong if the governors were allowed to have their way every time.

'Everything will not be the PDP governors. There are other constituencies and interests that should be looked upon,' the Senator, who asked not to be named, said.

Our correspondents gathered that those who had been tipped by the governors included the Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Isa Yiguda and his Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Sule Lamido.

Some former ministers, who were members of the late President Umaru Yar'Adua's kitchen cabinet, including the ex-Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Alhaji Adamu Aliero, are said to be pushing for the younger brother of the late president, Alhaji Sulaiman Yar'Adua.

According to a presidential source, the loyalists of the late Yar'Adua told Jonathan that the appointment of a governor as the vice-president might lead to a crisis in the Presidency.

The position of vice-president became vacant on Thursday, when Jonathan emerged as President following the death Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua on Wednesday night.