Nigerian leader picks Kaduna governor for deputy

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has nominated Kaduna state governor Namadi Sambo to be vice president of Africa’s most populous nation, a presidency source said on Thursday.

Jonathan, who was sworn in last week after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, surprised many by choosing a relative newcomer to national politics to be his deputy.

“It is true. Sambo has been chosen by the president to be the vice president,” the source said.

A spokesman for the 58-year-old governor declined to comment.

Analysts said it was too early to know whether Sambo, a northerner who was elected governor in 2007, would now be considered a contender for presidential elections to be held by next April.

“Sambo has not been in politics for a long time so he is not your characteristic Nigerian politician,” said Mansur Ahmed, senior member of the think-tank Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

“It is difficult to say who the PDP will choose. The decision on who will be their presidential candidate depends on many factors,” he added.

Under the power-sharing agreement within the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the presidency should rotate every two terms between the Muslim north and Christian south to avoid an imbalance of power.

Yar’Adua, a northerner, died during his first term and many expected Jonathan to appoint a powerful northern vice president after he took over as head of state who would then go on to be the ruling party nominee in the next presidential race.

“The selection of vice president is not simply a question of who is best equipped for the job, but who will not upset the most number of factions,” said Antony Goldman, head of London-based PM Consulting.

Jonathan himself has not ruled out running for president although he said in April he wanted at least three months to see how reforms enacted so far took hold.

An aide to Jonathan said on Wednesday there was general consensus in support of his seeking re-election and that he would likely do so with the PDP.

Cairo Ojuogboh, Jonathan’s assistant on National Assembly matters, said he personally believed Jonathan would stand in presidential polls next year.

But Jonathan’s spokesman, Ima Niboro, said Ojuogboh was in no position to make any declaration on the president’s plans.

A bid by Jonathan could be controversial because he is from the south of the country and would be seen as upsetting the balance of power.



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