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VP WAR, WHY THE LOT FELL ON SAMBO

By NBF News
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President Goodluck Jonathan
By next week, when President Goodluck Jonathan finally submits the name of his nominee for the position of vice president to the National Assembly, the period of horse-trading and intense lobby for the choice of Number 2 would end. However, even as governors and other interests have favoured Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Namadi Sambo, to occupy the post, different interests in the North are still kicking to frustrate the submission of his name for approval.

Saturday Sun gathered that some of these interests are intensifying their lobby because of what they consider as Sambo's weakness: They believe that Sambo is not a super performer, not because he is bereft of ideas, but owing to the fact that he surrounded himself with politicians who hijacked him to further their own 'personal interest.'

The governor's emergence as preferred candidate for the post of vice president, therefore, came to residents of Kaduna and most Nigerians as a surprise, the same way his emergence as the Kaduna governorship candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2007, did. In the 2007 contest, he defeated favourites like Senator Isaiah Balat and Suleiman Hunkuyi.

Saturday Sun learnt that those opposed to the choice of Sambo say that he has no political base. The question, therefore, is: Why was he favoured to be Jonathan's deputy?

The factors that favoured Sambo
Sources revealed that four main factors may have worked in Sambo's favour. According to a source, one of the reasons is the governor's perceived 'political naivety.' Also, it was gathered that those who packaged him wanted someone who would not only assertive but also 'ready to carry out directives without asking questions.'

Saturday Sun authoritatively gathered that apart from the two reasons above, lobby teams from Kano, Minna, Zaria and Sokoto had put in a few words for Sambo to be picked as vice president. Besides, his working relationship with President Jonathan, when the latter was still the vice president, also worked in his favour.

'You know, when the president was the vice president, as the chairman of the National Integrated Power Project Committee, Sambo was his deputy. And at that point, the president would have known his capacity. One thing you cannot take from the man is that he is very hard working, so the president may have based his choice of the man on that, irrespective of what others say about his performance at the state level,' one of the sources further said.

How other northern governors lost out
Before the various interests finally settled for Sambo, many people in the North, especially governors had been considered. In first set of candidates were Bauchi State governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda; Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido; Niger State governor, Alhaji Babangida Aliyu; Deputy Governor of Sokoto State and former Minister, Alhaji Muktar Shagari and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SFG), Alhaji Yayale Ahmed.

It was gathered that Yuguda lost out because of the late President Umar Yar'Adua connection. Being a son-in-law of the late president, those who opposed his choice said his emergence would have looked as compensation for the Yar'Adua family. Lamido, Aliyu and Shagari lost out because they were seen to have the clout that could make them run for president in 2011, in the absence of Jonathan doing so.

The second set of candidates, who were considered but also lost out because of next year's election, include former Kaduna State governor, Alhaji Mohammed Markafi and Gombe State governor, Alhaji Danjuma Goje.

Saturday Sun gathered that National Security Adviser, General Aliyu Gusau was not considered because he was seen as a string character and also ambitious. This is moreso since the retired General has not pretended that he wants to be president.

The Southern Kaduna angle
Although PDP is yet to conduct primary elections anywhere in the country to pick its standard bearer for 2011 elections, Sambo was getting the message loud and clear on a daily basis that the Southern Kaduna, who more often than not determine where the pendulum swings during election, was not ready to go with him. In fact, it is common knowledge that one of his challengers in 2007, Hunkuyi, is banking on the support from the southern part of the state to dislodge the governor next year.

Aware of this fact, the governor and his men were recently said to have approached a retired General who, though is not from the state, but who is visible in the Jonathan administration, to assist in re-assuring the Southern Kaduna people that after his tenure in 2015, he would not only hand over to a Southern Kaduna man but a Christian.

'The governor knows that all is not well within the PDP in the state. And he (governor) knows that without the support of the Southern Kaduna people, he can't make the second term. I can confirm to you that the meeting you were referring to actually took place. But what I cannot say is how the thing turned out to be that of the Presidency. Honestly, I don't know. Why don't you try his spokesman,' another source volunteered.

Attempts to get the governor's spokesman, Umar Sani, to state the governor's own side of the story proved abortive, as several calls to his lines were not returned. And even at a point, he completely switched off.

Kaduna after Sambo
Once Sambo is confirmed, the new vice president, his deputy, Patrick Yakowa, automatically becomes governor of Kaduna State, thus becoming the first Southern Kaduna man to be so 'honoured,' since the creation of the state.

And once that happens, the position of the deputy governor becomes vacant. Since Sambo is from Kaduna Central Senatorial District, the new deputy governor is expected to also emerge from the zone.

Saturday Sun 's findings reveal that the contest is likely going to be between two favourites of the governor, who are incidentally members of his kitchen cabinet. These men are Hon. Saidu Adamu, Information Commissioner and Umar Sani, the governor's spokesman. But if the lobby teams from Kano and Minna, which contributed to Sambo's choice as vice president, decide to bring their pressures to bear on Sambo, Adamu, the Information Commissioner, would certainly pick the job, ahead of Sani.

However, if the governor is allowed to choose, and probably wants some level of control over the government from outside, then Sani, his spokesman certainly fits the bill. But only time will tell who, between these two men, will get it in the end. What is, however, certain is that the Southern Kaduna people would forever remain grateful to President Jonathan for this act of benevolence.

After VP, what next for Sambo?
If Jonathan decides to run in 2011, certainly, he will be running with Sambo. However, if the pendulum swings away from them, it means Sambo would have ended his political journey on that note, as he may no longer have the opportunity to run for another term as governor, in 2011, and would certainly not run for the Presidency.