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Death of Yar’Adua, the Making of Jonathan

North, Jonathan jostle for VP

By Chioma GABRIEL, Deputy Editor, Uduma Kalu & Henry Umoru

The demise of late president Umaru Yar’Adua   should under normal circumstances spark off a period of uncertainty that could threaten the unity of the country.  

Although it could yet threaten it, but the signs are that the prolonged illness of the late President has given his erstwhile  Vice the elbow room to set his stall and chat his own course.

The disquiet over the manner the late Presidents ill health was handled seemed to have played into the hands of Jonathan who quietly steadied himself in power. Since the demise of the former President all manner of questions have arisen over the future of President Jonathan in the seat of power, who is likely to be his Vice etc. Another growing concern is the ambition of the President.

Is he going to run as the President next year? Already opinions are divided on that with almost all sides of the clutching at strong points to justify their position. While the President has developed a band of followers that are determined to defend his case others also give reasons for opposing him.

The debate will intensify as the days go by. But what is not in dispute is that the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua will surely be the making or other wise of Jonathan.
In this edition Saturday Vanguard went to town to just to give esteemed readers all sides of the argument. Enjoy it

North, Jonathan jostle for VP

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has adopted two approaches on how to pick his vice president, Saturday Vanguard can authoritatively reveal.

The approaches, said to be governed by generational factors, are poised towards: retaining power in the North or adopting the South African option.

The first approach, it is gathered, picks the zones’ heavyweights to become Jonathan’s VP. The heavyweights are said to be sponsored by powerful Northerners to become Jonathan’s VP with the hope that in 2011, any of them that becomes the VP would take over from Jonathan as President.

Saturday Vanguard gathered that the old generation lobbying for the VP slot include   Bamanga Tukur, Jubril Aminu, Mohammed Gusau and Mohammed Yayale.

But this group has its own problem as it does not think that President Jonathan might want to contest in 2011 and so would not like to have a VP that would be more powerful than him. In fact, a source said that if he picks any of the old and influential politicians, the presidency would be divided between North and South. In this situation, the Presidential Advisory Committee is likely to play a role.

President Jonathan may therefore decide to take the South African option. This option has gained support having worked when ex South African President, Thabo Mbeki, along with his deputy resigned in 2008, and  the ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, became Acting President. He conducted the elections as acting president and is today, South Africa’s Deputy President under President Jacob Zuma.

But the first option may rock the boat, especially for the President and Obasanjo.

This is where the generational matter comes in.  And this is where ex President Olusegun Obasanjo is said to be affecting the Jonathan presidency. In fact, a source said that the ex president wants the President to pick a VP who is younger and would not scuttle his presidential ambition.

So, as at today, the generational question decide who becomes Nigeria’s next Vice President. The battle is now between the old generation represented by people like Bamanga Tukur, Jubril Aminu, Mohammed Gusau and Mohammed Yayale and some young Turks represented by the likes of Nuhu Ribadu, El Rufai and Sule Lamido.

The thinking of the old generation is that any of them that is appointed as vice president will eventually run as the Presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party, PDP, in next months election while the current President may be persuaded to run as the Vice Presidential candidate.

This proposal,  it was gathered,  may not sell with the President whom sources say has started raising a team that will conduct the electoral battle for him.

A source told Saturday Vanguard that a former a President has sold the current Jigawa State governor Sule Lamido to the President as a reliable ally that the President can go to war with.
The source said that the President is also working on the theory that running with the likes of Sule Lamido, Nuhu Ribadu and El-Rufai may be the way to go for him.

Strengths, weaknesses of the candidates

Bamanga Tukur- (born 1935), an ex governor, is a prominent businessman and politician who was a Minister for Industries during the administration of General Sani Abacha. He was one of the high profile civil servants and military officers who acquired large areas of farmland along the various River Basin authorities. He is currently the president of the Africa Business Roundtable. He was also a former member of the board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

He came to national attention in the mid 1970’s, as the general manager of the Nigerian Ports Authority.

Jubril Aminu: (born 1939) A serial former Minister and senator. He is cerebral and currently heads the Foreign affairs Committee of the Senate. He is also a technocrat whose biggest strength is his experience in government having traversed various ministries. His  weakness is his age which is President’s biggest consideration.

Mohammed Gusau: (born 1943) A retired general and intelligence officer. He is currently the National Security Adviser who is rumoured to have an eye on the Presidential seat . If he is appointed the Vice President,  it could be the shortest route to achieving his rumoured Presidential ambition. But would the President be comfortable with a man with so much clout who has worked with several leaders both military and civilian? His could be a case of having too much experience for the job.

The Turks:
El-Rufai: He is the modern day enfant terrible of Nigerian politics. He served in various capacities during the reign of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Controversial and highly cerebral, his strength could be both his education and experience in government.

He could also be useful in taking on the old order which feel that they are untouchables. During his reign as FCT minister,  he demystified several politicians hitherto thought to be untouchables. Recently, he along with several young politicians of the Northern extraction, met in Dubai and agreed on a working document on how to forge ahead and bring out young Northern elements into the mainstream of Nigerian politics.

His utterances since he came back have all been along that line. There is no doubt that he has a role to play in the shape of things to come. His meeting with officials of the EFCC to resolve some of his pending cases is seen as a way of clearing the coast for him. His biggest weakness could be the slew of cases against him and sources said that they may just be too many for his own good.

Sule Lamido: His is rumoured to be the candidate of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Eminently qualified to be a vice president, he also boasts a rich pro democracy credential having worked for the actualisation of annulled 1993 presidential election. His weakness could be the sponsor. The President might not want to pander too much to the former President. He might just want to be his own man.

Nuhu Ribadu: Of the Turks, Ribadu seems to have the brightest chance of being the Vice President. Already, the President has reportedly established contact with him and the relationship was reportedly cemented when the President visited the United States of America recently.

Ribadu’s international connection as a former anti corruption czar whose tenure at the EFCC made the international community  take Nigeria seriously as a country fighting corruption puts him ahead of the other candidates. His appointment will automatically endear Nigeria to the international community. His persecution immediately he was hounded out of the country and the way he was embraced outside the country is something the President might want to  tap from. Ribadu is reportedly putting finishing touches to his plan to return to the country.

There is no doubt that Ribadu will have a role to play even if he does not make it as Vice President     Ahmed Yayale: (1952) His strength could also be his weakness. He was rumoured to have canvassed the invocation of Section 144 to declare late President Umaru Yar’Adua incapable of continuing in office. Much as the call could have endeared him to the President, the President could be aware that such fate could also befall him.


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