Nigeria's Vice President Slot:Push for a Vice President intensifies

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Following the death of President Musa Yar’Adua on Wednesday night and subsequent swearing in of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the substantive president, moves to get a deputy for him had taken a high gear in the last 24 hours with meetings in Yola and Abuja.

The meeting in Yola, which was under the auspices of the Northern Elders Forum(NEM) was planned to quickly take the wind off the sail of the protracted struggle for the position, given the limited time ahead of elections in 2011. It had the backing of influential northern leaders including the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council(PAC), Gen. T.Y.Danjuma, and Business whiz-kid, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who was however not at the meeting for undisclosed reasons.

There were clear indications of the preference of a technocrat, preferably a man with known pro-northern establishment credentials to fly the northern banner as opposed to the choice of the Abuja meeting.

Three names which stood high on the scale at the Yola meeting were that of ageing former minister and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Mallam Adamu Ciroma(78), Adamawa State governor, Rear Admiral Murtala Nyako(rtd), and Senator Jubril Aminu.

In Abuja, a rump of the late Yar’Adua inner kitchen members “friends of Yar’Adua” met and zeroed in on Senator Adamu Aliero, former minister of the Federal Capital Terrirory (FCT).
Daily Sun’s findings indicated that the group was driven by sheer urgency and expediency in their choice, believing that there is no more time to be bandying names about”.

Before now, they had considered about six people for the job including Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shema, Senate Majority Chief Whip, Senator Mahmud Kanti-Bello, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on defence(Army), Senator Ibrahim Idah, Bauchi State governor, Alhaji Isa Yuguda.

They had reasoned that any further delay in rallying round a single candidate will spell doom for the Yar’Adua political family now and in the future. The group had initially thought that Yar’Adua would not die before the end of this month which they believed would be used for intensive bargaining with Jonathan. Matriarch of the political family and Yar’Adua’s wife, Turai, is said to be aware of the new development as it was conceived “shortly before the man died”.

The chairman of Nigeria’s powerful governors forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki is also in the calculation. His alliances are mainly within the forum as he has embarked on discreet consultations among his colleagues. His attempt to key in to the Obasanjo group a few weeks ago failed as he was said to have received a cold shoulder from the ex-president.

Obasanjo, who has since the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President become a “power house of sorts” is believed to be pushing for Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido. The slightly strained relationship between the duo had been resuscitated and for now, he is Obasanjo’s frontline man for the position. Waiting in the wings for Obasanjo’s endorsement are Nyako, and Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Brig.Gen. Buba Marwa(rtd).Obasanjo is said to be impressed by the latter’s track record of loyalty and hardwork.

The position of the National Security Adviser, Gen. Mohammed Aliyu Gusau(rtd) in the scheme of things is not yet known. Apart from his widely known presidential ambition in next year’s elections, his godfather, ex-president, Ibrahim Babangida has since joined the race.
A source close to him confirmed to Daily Sun, yesterday that his presidential ambition is still intact, but could not give a clear answer to his position in taking up the vice-presidential slot, under Jonathan.

So far, President Jonathan has shown indifference to the various jostlings for the position of vice-president which has fuelled speculations that he may vote to complete the remaining tenure of 11 months without a deputy; especially in view of his unexpressed interest in gunning for the presidency in the next round of elections. Several amorphous groups have been mounting pressure on him to run. In an interview on the Cable National Network(CNN) during his visit to the United States of America(USA), last month, he said he had not yet thought about it. Section 146(3) of the 1999 Constitution says “where the office of vice-president becomes vacant –(a) by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal in accordance with Section 143 or 144 of this Constitution.(b) By his assumption of the office of president in accordance with sub-section(i) of this section; or (c) For any other reason, the President shall nominate and, with the approval of each House of the National Assembly appoint a new vice president.”

In spite of the scheming and posturing the cold calculation in the seat of power, discussed widely is that if Jonathan does not succumb to the pressure from Obasanjo to pick his candidate, he may likely opt for the secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Yayale. Yayale, who also served under Jonathan, even before the power equation changed. Unlike most principal officers of the presidency who have the inclination to carry on as if the vice president does not exist, Yayale since assuming the position had always accorded Jonathan his due, which has sustained their private and official relationship.


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