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El-Rufai, Goje, Lamido, Shema, Yayale, Ribadu, Tukur, Namadi, Saraki top the list

By Chioma GABRIEL, Deputy Editor, Uduma Kalu &   Henry Umoru
Following the formal  taking over of  leadership as President and Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces byPresident Jonathan, the battle of who becomes the Vice President has thickened , just as scheming, permutations, politicking  have begun.

Though the leadership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has not made any categorical statement on this, thinking it may be too early, other politicians are not seeing it as too early because President Goodluck Jonathan must have a Vice President who must assist in the administration of the affairs of the country.

The death of Yar’Adua, and Jonathan becoming the President open up new wounds: the question of who becomes the Vice president of Nigeria from the North since the President comes from the South South geo-political zone of the country.

The dynamics of the day may be shifting the zoning system of the PDP, though it may not affect the entire system now, maybe as the nation approaches 2011 general elections. At present, only the positions of the President and his vice would change, but the North Central still retains the position of the Senate President, Deputy Senate President from the South East, Speaker, House of Representatives from the West and Deputy Speaker from the North East.

The contest in the  North over the zone that will produce the Vice President is between the North East and North West, against the backdrop that the late President Yar’Adua who hailed from Katsina was from the North West. What may work against the North East is that the Deputy Speaker hails from the zone.

The North West, especially Katsina, is of the view that the polity must be fair to it as it must produce the Vice President to compensate the late Yar’Adua. The governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema, is said to have been  penciled down for the position of Vice President to Jonathan by his people, at least to compensate the people of Katsina State.

As gathered, the people of the state may be asking for his appearance for the position. But what may work for him this time is that the Katsina Abuja boys who were Yar’Adua’s men from the State in the likes of former Minister of Agriculture, Sayyadi Abba Ruma and the President’s Economic Adviser, Tanimu Yakubu are becoming powerless.

They may not have the political strength to fight Shema and the governor may also have the support of Murtala Shehu Yar’Adua, the Minister of State, Defence to realise his dream.

Other states in the North West like Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa are said to be interested in the position. The most visible states from the zone in this contest are Jigawa and Kaduna with Sule Lamido and Namadi Sambo said to have been    penciled down for the position.

But it was also gathered that the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai who returned to the country in the early hours of last Saturday having spent 23 months in exile is being rumoured as a favoured person for the position. What may work in his favour is his  relationship   with the President and against the backdrop that he may not require the Senate to clear him.

El-Rufai is also “a political son” of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the ex-president who doubles as the Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP is still very powerful in this administration and his influence cannot be ignored

Baring any last minute change, Jonathan, as gathered, will be more comfortable to work with El-Rufai as gathered, even though the likes of Adamu Aliero, the immediate past Minister of the FCTA from Kebbi is also interested , but his problem could that he irritated most people in showing that he was close to the Late President.

But the position of other part of the North as gathered is that if the Vice President’s slot moves to North West, it may risk the chance of clinching PDP’s 2011 arrangement of producing the President if the President fails to make himself available since it would then be assumed that they have had their share in the presidency, having done three good years under Yar’Adua and Vice President under Jonathan.

It was  gathered that the Security Adviser to the President, General Mohammadu Gusua who hails from the North West, is eyeing the presidential slot come 2011, in fact his posters are already on the streets of Kaduna and some other parts of the North.

Another factor that could heat the polity in the next few days is that the North East, comprising Taraba, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa is also prepared to fight it out with the North West for the position of Vice President. In this fight, the present Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed, a very loyal and painstaking worker  is being rumoured as a candidate for the position, at least as former Head of Service to his present position, the President sees him as one he might work with.

He stands a better chance in this zone because he is already in the system and he understands the game. He may also scale through ahead of Adamawa because Adamawa state had produced a Vice President in the person of Atiku Abubakar.

North Central, comprising Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue, Plateau and the FCT is also said to be interested in the present arrangement of producing the Vice President to Jonathan but what may be working against the Zone is that the number three citizen of the country, Senate President David Mark comes from there. The name of Benue state governor, Gabriel Suswan has been  mentioned for the position.

The argument is that he is a Christian and Christian-Christian President and Vice President may not be favourable to the country.

Another key man  from the North Central is the present governor of Kwara State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki. What  other parts of the north may use against him is still that of David Mark who is also from the zone and he may also be very powerful using his connection as NGF’s Chairman to scheme out the President when 2011 comes on board.

As gathered, one of the very strong contenders to the position ahead of the PDP arrangement is governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje from the North East who is on his last lap as governor of the state. He is from a zone that has not produced a President, unlike North West which has produced former President Shehu Shagari, Gen. Buhari and the present Yar’Adua. So if Goje comes out as Vice President, it may not be too bad for them.

Former governor of Bauchi state, Adamu Mauzu also from the zone is said to be contesting  for the Vice President position. What may work against him is his successor, son in-law of Yar’Adua, Mallam Isa Yuguda who does not see eye to eye with him

As we await the realisation of PDP’s arrangement to produce the vice president from the North, time shall tell how the self acclaimed largest party in Africa would manage the situation.


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