By Emeka Mamah & AbdulSalam Muhammad
KADUNAâ€”THE choice of Kaduna State Governor, Architect Mohammed Namadi Sambo as Vice President designate by President Goodluck Jonathan, Thursday, jolted political pundits in the state.
This was because several political watchers were looking in the direction of Samboâ€™s predecessor, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, an astute politician who never left anyone in doubt that he wanted to provide service at the national level.
Makarfi had earlier indicated his interest in the Presidency during the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
As at Wednesday evening, a group of politicians in Kaduna State, led by General Thaddeus Ashie, former Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, were still mobilizing support for Senator Makarfiâ€™s candidature as Vice President.
Sambo, therefore, emerged as a dark horse, just like his appearance during the governorship race in 2006.
He assumed office as Governor at the Kashim Ibrahim House, the official seat of government, on May 29, 2007, after a fierce battle for the ruling Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, PDP, ticket with a political war horse, Senator Isaiah Balat.
Sambo is an easy going personality who is fondly called by his admirers as an â€œarchitect of peace and development.â€ This apparently flowed from his 11-point development agenda for Kaduna.
He is not new in partisan politics having tried to run for election as Governor of the state during the late General Sani Abacha days. Though said to be generous, Sambo had before now, always told anybody who cared to listen that he was not interested in vying for the Presidency.
Following controversy generated when some newspapers published that Sambo wanted to be President about six months ago, when the former occupier of the position, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua was incapacitated, he told some newspaper reporters in Abuja, that he was not even qualified to be the president then.
Sources, however, said that the new Vice President designate went that far to convince the Yarâ€™Adua handlers because of his belief that the story was â€œplantedâ€ in the media to scuttle his second term bid as governor.
Two things had happened before the news of his purported ambition then for Sambo to be agitated. A local newspaper in the state had published a story to that Sambo was getting set to marry one of the late Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s daughters which he did not find funny.
Sambo who has only one wife, Amina, with six children and did not want to marry again, was apparently placed between the devil and the deep blue sea. If he denied the story, it would be taken at the level of the Yarâ€™Aduas that Sambo hated them to the extent of saying so publicly, and if he kept quiet, it would be interpreted that the story was true, meaning that there would be trouble at the home front.
Apart from the marriage issue, it was also said that an alleged visit of one of Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s daughter to the state was a source of concern. The woman, who is said to be one of the first ladies in the North reportedly visited Kaduna en-route Abuja one evening only to discover that the accommodation was not befitting of her status and left in the middle of the night to Abuja in anger.
It was in the heat of these issues that the report of Samboâ€™s alleged ambition was reported, thus throwing him into further trouble then.
Arc Mohammed Sambo was born on August 2, 1954 in Zaria, Kaduna State. He started his educational career between 1959 and 1967 at Baptist Primary School, Kakuri, Kaduna, Kobi Primary School in Bauchi and Towns School, Zaria.
Between 1967 and 1971, he attended Government Secondary School now Alhuda-Huda College in Zaria. He attended the School of Basic Studies at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1972, after which he gained admission into the Department of Architecture, Ahmadu Bello University in 1973 and graduated in 1976 with Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture. He holds a Masters degree in Architecture, 1978, and served with the Oyo State Ministry of Works and Housing for his National Youth Service Corps up to August1979.