Barely 72 hours after the death of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and the swearing in of his successor, President Goodluck Jonathan, there is palpable tension over who becomes the Vice President.
It was learnt that four different groups are said to be interested in determining who becomes the second-in-command, with speculations that the new Vice President might be the one to step up should Jonathan decide against running for the Presidency in 2011.
The groups are the Governors’ Forum, Northern Senators, retired military officers and former President Olusegun Obasanjo. President Jonathan is also said to be keen on having the final say on the matter.
But Sunday Sun gathered that while the Governors’ Forum is insisting that one of their own should be appointed, President Jonathan thinks that he is now fully in charge and should determine who to work with.
The development came even as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) denied speculation of consultation by the president over his choice for the office.
Since the death of Yar’Adua, the presidency has been enmeshed in a battle for the Vice Presidential seat with many names from the northern zone of the country being touted as possible candidates for the plum position.
According to our source, while Jonathan is working on a list of three including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen Aliyu Gusau and former Minister of Agriculture and Resources, Muktar Shagari, the Governors’ Forum is insisting that he must pick from Governors Isa Yuguda, Sule Lamido and Babangida Aliyu.
The governors are of Bauchi, Jigawa and Niger states respectively. Interestingly, Gusau, Yayale, Shema, Yuguda are all from the Northeast geopolitical zone that produced the late President while Shagari is from the northwest.
But a source close to the Presidency told Sunday Sun that President Jonathan has put his feet down that he decides who to work with.
It was gathered that he is likely to appoint the Secretary to the Government of the Federation because of his loyalty throughout the six months crisis over the health of late President Yar’Adua and his absence from duty.
Ahmed, a Fulani from Bauchi is said to be more acceptable nationwide and has advantages over others because of his background as a technocrat whose wealth of experience would help to stabilize Jonathan’s administration.
It was gathered that part of the reasons why the President is more favourably disposed toward him is because of the perception that he is not a politician and may not yield to the ambition of contesting the next Presidential election.
But sources said governors are pushing the names of Ibrahim Shema and Isa Yuguda of Katsina and Bauchi states respectively. Yuguda is however said to be having more sympathy as an in-law to the departed President.
It was also gathered that Obasanjo, who is regarded as Jonathan’s godfather is said to be rooting for either former FCT minister, Nasir El-Rufai or former Agriculture Minister, Mukhtar Shehu Shagari. Senators and retired officers are however said to be rooting for NSA who they believe could assist Jonathan to break any resistance in the north.
Meanwhile, speaking with newsmen at the weekend, the national publicity secretary of the PDP, Professor Ahmed Rufai Alkali denied that the National Working Committee had been consulted.
Alkali denied that Friday’s visit to the president was to confer with him on the party’s choice for the office of the Vice President.
``Early in the morning, on Thursday, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the former Acting President was formally inaugurated as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.
“So, the entire NWC took time to visit the president. One, to condole with him on the death of President Umaru Musa Yar`Adua, the man who was very close to him, the man he had worked with for a very long time and the national chairman, also on our behalf and on behalf of the party also congratulated him on his assumption of office as the president of this country.
“The party also pledged its full support to him, to do everything for him to ensure that he succeeds. So, all other maters now will have to wait”, he said .
Asked on the criteria he expects the president to take in appointing his deputy, hecalled for caution. ``Goodluck Jonathan has been sworn in, just Thursday. So you have to give him time, because he has to make a lot of consultations and I am sure that by the time he does that, Nigerians will know, of course it has a process, it has to also go through the national assembly. So, please I want you to exercise patience. First, join us to pray for the departed soul of Yar`Adua and also join us to pray for president Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that he succeeds in the challenges that lie ahead``
Prodded on the rationale behind the governors choice, Sunday source cited precedence saying`` The former president, Olusegun Obasanjo picked former vice president, Atiku Abubakar when he was serving governor in Adamawa”.
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