Nigeria’s unlikely new Vice-President

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Nigerian political scene continues to witness significant events as newly sworn-in president Mr. Goodluck Jonathan appoints a less-known politician as his vice president, a move some analysts have described to have long term benefit for President Jonathan.

“The president nominated governor Namadi Sambo on Wednesday night. His name will now go forward to the National Assembly for ratification,” Kaduna state spokesman Saidu Adamu told reporters.

Mr. Namadi Sambo’s appointment is seen as being in defiance of pundits’ claims, following Mr. Goodluck Jonathan’s swearing-in, that whoever was named as vice-president would be a strong contender for the 2011 presidential elections in Nigeria.

But with the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) insisting that its candidate for next year’s presidential elections will be a northerner, some analysts still believe that a northern vice president remains a strong contender for the PDP flag. The PDP traditionally alternates power between north and south.

But according to BBC’s Caroline Duffield, special correspondent in Nigeria, having no significant political base, Mr. Sambo is not thought to be ambitious, and is unlikely to overshadow President Goodluck Jonathan.

“Mr. Sambo is a safe choice. No way will he rock the political boat. Is this the man who will lead the ruling People’s Democratic Part into the elections? Or will he become a supporting act in a presidential run by Goodluck Jonathan?” she quoted a government source in Abuja.

Fairly new on the political scene and without a solid base, by Nigerian standards, Mr. Sambo is neither a likely contender nor one to overshadow President Goodluck Jonathan. Nonetheless, the soft-spoken former architect was close to late President Umaru Yar’Adua, and is also an ally of former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, who recently announced he would seek to contest the elections

It is yet to be confirmed whether President Jonathan, who is a southerner, will seek to contest the elections on behalf of the PDP. Nonetheless, there have been strong suggestions that Mr. Jonathan may try to overturn the PDP tradition, and some analysts say Mr. Sambo has been chosen because he would not pose any threat to President Jonathan.

Having served as Governor in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna from 2007, where he ably tackled ethnic and religious unrest and yet failed to deliver on infrastructure and social development promises, Mr. Sambo has been described as a political novice with little to no campaigning background. Some have claimed that he was hand-picked by the outgoing governor. Only a hand-full of people in Kaduna had ever heard of him [Namadi Sambo] when he emerged to become governor.

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