Vice President Slot: Ahmed Yayale, eight others in the race for VP’s slot

Thursday, May 6, 2010

By Yusuf Alli

No fewer than nine persons are in the race for the job of vice president, it emerged yesterday.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who was until February 9 the vice president, may fill the vacancy within a week, sources told The Nation.

Jonathan was sworn in as president yesterday, following the death of former President Umaru Yar’Adua on Wednesday night.

Among those believed to be under consideration for the job are Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum and National Assembly members. The governors and lawmakers want one of them to get the job.

With Jonathan’s emergence as President, the office of the vice president has to be filled – in line with Section 146 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.

The section reads: "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 subsection(1) of this section; or(c) for any other reason."

The Nation

learnt that nine names have been on the card in the last 24 hours.

They are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed; the National Security Adviser, Gen. Aliyu Gusau; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari; former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai; Katsina State Governor Ibrahim Shema; Minister of State (Defence) Murtala Yar’Adua; former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State; and Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State.

Of the nine, the odds seem to be in the favour of Ahmed (who was described last night as a leading and experienced contender); Gen. Gusau; el-Rufai (a tested technocrat) and Ribadu.

It was gathered that experience in public service and maturity may count for Yayale.

Findings revealed that in anticipation of this development, some political forces and Western powers a few weeks ago prevailed on Gusau to stay off the job.

It was also learnt that since Gusau may declare his interest in the presidential race in two months’, some power brokers behind the Jonathan presidency feel there is no point giving the new leader a deputy whose ambition will be a distraction.

A highly-placed source said: "Jonathan has a challenge to choose his Vice-President from the core North of Hausa-Fulani to give his administration a footing and ethnic leverage.

"There are four contenders from the North-East; four from the North-West and one from the North-Central."

"There is also pressure on Jonathan to do away with some loyalists or associates of the former President. They are saying that he needs a clean break from the past without hurting anyone or group.

"I think the odds favour one of the candidates from the North-East. Yayale seems to be a consensus candidate and the President does not hide the fact that he is pleased with the SGF."

Jonathan has been consulting with some leaders, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo and members of the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC), especially the Chairman, Gen. Theophillus Danjuma.

"I can assure you that consultations have started but Jonathan and all the leaders in the search team are weighing options.

"Some have even suggested that one of the Ministers from the North should be made the Vice-President.

"The PDP Governors are also agitating that one of them should be made the VP. The challenge at hand is that the nation needs a loyal and committed Vice-President. We cannot afford to go through any crisis again in The Presidency."

The source confirmed that another round of consultative session was expected to begin last night after the return of the delegations from Yar’Adua’s burial in Katsina.

It was also learnt that some Senators and members of the House of Representatives, who considered loyal to Jonathan, are pushing for the choice of the VP from them.


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