By Dayo Benson, Political Editor, Daniel Idonor, Emeka Mamah, BenÂ Agande & Tordue Salem
LAGOSâ€” A MAJOR confrontation is brewing between the Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) led Presidential Advisory Committee, PAC and former President Olusegun Obasanjo over what is considered as the latterâ€™s undue pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan on who becomes the nationâ€™s Vice President.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is said to be pilling pressure on President Jonathan to look in the direction of Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State and Alhaji Muktar Shagari, the Deputy governor of Sokoto State.
This move, according to impeccable sources is seen by Danjuma and others like the former Chairman of Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party, Chief Audu Ogbe as distracting the President from concentrating on his national assignment.
Meantime, a Presidency source who preferred anonymity said President Jonathan would not want the period of mourning to be affected by whatever political activity or consideration as he was yet to recover from the shock that he would not see the late President Yarâ€™Adua again.
Investigation by Vanguard revealed that the name of the new VP which is still under consultations will be sent to the National Assembly for confirmation after the mourning period.
â€œSo, having announced seven day mourning for his late boss, which began last Thursday to end next Wednesday, there will be nothing serious or too active in the direction of choosing a new VP until after the solemn period, this I can tell you.â€
As the search for who emerged as the Vice president intensified, the leadership of the Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party and state governors elected on the platform of the Party are also working hard to ensure that whoever emerges is endorsed by them in order to have a firm grip of the Jonathan presidency.
Abdulmutallab Yarâ€™Adua on the card
Despite the heightened political moves, indication in Abuja is that contraryÂ to the names being peddled asÂ vice presidential candidates, president Goodluck Jonathan may shock Nigerians with the submission of the name of the Minister of State for Defence, Abdulmutallab Yarâ€™Adua as his vice.
Nevertheless, Vanguard gathered in Abuja at the weekend thatÂ the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party is set to explore a provision in the constitution of the party which states that in a scenario as the extant case, the president is obliged to consult the party before submitting the name of his Vice to the National Assembly for confirmation.
A member of the Partyâ€™s National Working Committee told Vanguard: â€œSome of our colleagues believe that since the president is a product of the party, he should take the party into confidence by consulting with the party before forwarding the name of his vice to the national assembly.
â€œIt is just a matter of courtesy that he should do that and we will point out the provision of our constitution on that to him.”
This notwithstanding, Vanguard, however, gathered that the PDP governors are also bent on making input into who becomes the vice president since they are major stakeholders in the party and leaders at the grassroots. They particularly want Kwara State governor, Bukola Saraki or any other governor nominated by them to be appointed the vice president.
One source told Vanguard that the insistence by the governors is to have somebody who they can access and would be their eyes and ears in the presidency.
â€œIt is highly unlikely that President Goodluck Jonathan would contest for the presidency next year and he is determined to bequeath a clean legacy to Nigerians. If he brings in the younger Yar’Adua they would remain focused and would not be distracted by unnecessary politics. That is the green horn that may take everybody by surpriseâ€ the source who is well informed about the politics around the vice president position told Vanguard.
Obasanjo favours Muktar Shagari, others
Meantime, Danjuma, AuduÂ Ogbe and some members of the PAC, according to our source, may move in this week to checkmate the antics of the former President Obasanjo who they believe is trying to impose his wish on the president.
If eventually President Jonathan submits the name of the younger Yar’Adua as his vice, it will be seen as a way of asserting his authority as President. He is said to have been persuaded by a moral obligation to assuage theÂ erstwhile first family over the death of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua.
Sources said that President Jonathan would be more comfortable with a humble personality like Yarâ€™Adua as his vice rather than having a hawk whose interest may be at variance with his vision for the country.
Apart from former President Obasanjo, a source said that Shagari had the backing of his uncle, whose voice is respected in the Presidency.
Middle Belt interested too
Meanwhile, the Middle Belt Dialogue Forum, MBDF, said in a statement signed by its President, Mr. Rima Shawulu Kwewum in Kaduna, yesterday, that the appointment of a new vice president from the area would correct years of politically motivated neglect of the people.
Kwewum said: â€œWhen power moves to the west, it is presumed to have gone to the Yoruba; the south-south refers to the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta while south east obviously refers to the Igbo. The impression should not be made that there are no people in the Middle Belt. We are calling the attention of the President to the fact that since Nigeria became independent, the Middle Belt, which spread across Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue,Â Plateau, Taraba, Gombe, Kaduna, Niger, Kogi and Kwara states, have been neglected politically.
â€œApart from the notable exception of Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) who had leadership thrust upon him and worked arduously to keep Nigeria one, our people have been neglected, and glossed over when it comes to the sharing of political positions.
N-West lawmaker kicks
Meanwhile, Deputy Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Muhammadu Bello Mutawalle, ANPP, Zamfara, has advised President Goodluck Jonathan to pick his Vice from the North-West geo-political zone or risk being abandoned by the zone.
Addressing newsmen, weekend in Abuja, Mutawalle, said with the death of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua and the ascension to that office by Jonathan, and the North-West being the largest among the six zones in the North should get the VP slot.
He said: â€œThere was no time when somebody was brought to replace another office holder from a different zone. Even this one, we have to abide by it because the constitution is clear on who will be the President after the death of Yarâ€™Adua, so it is only fair to give us the Vice President.â€