President Goodluck Jonathan is under intense pressure to drop Vice-President Namadi Sambo as his running mate for the 2015 elections. Sambo is considered a “political lightweight”who cannot deliver the needed northern votes in the election.
A presidential aide told TheCable that Jonathan has no intention of dropping the architect as his vice-president. “It is true that the president has been under pressure from various interests in the north that he should not retain Sambo, but I can confidently tell you that as at today (Sunday), the president has no plans to drop him. I don’t know about tomorrow,” he said. It was initially thought that Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State was playing hardball with Jonathan as a negotiation bargain to be picked as vice-president in place of Sambo, but Lamido has now fully endorsed Jonathan for a second term without any conditions.
Those mooted as possible replacement for Sambo includes governor of Niger State, Dr Babangida Aliyu, Katsina Governor, Ibrahim Shema and former governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, has also featured prominently. Makarfi and his successor as governor, Sambo, had not been on good terms long before the latter was made vice-president on May 19, 2010. Makarfi was one of those considered for the position then before Sambo was eventually picked by the president.
A PDP leader from the north-west, who declined to be named, said Sambo is not politically strong to counter the growing strength of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the north-west. “Out of the seven states in the zone, APC controls only three, but things could get worse if General Muhammadu Buhari picks the ticket of APC. He is very popular in the north-west. Sambo will be no match for him,” he said, trying to justify why Sambo needed to be dropped. “Don’t forget that Sambo could not even deliver his ward to the PDP in the 2011 elections. If Jonathan really wants to make an impact, he needs a very strong character to be his running mate.” The vice-president is said to be calm over the unfolding scenario and there are indications that he might have been assured by the president’s men that his position remains secure. “Sambo is in a very difficult situation because as VP, what can he do? The anti-PDP sentiments in some parts of the north are not his fault. It is an emotional issue that a northerner must be president, so there is nothing he can do that will please those who have this strong sentiment,” the presidential aide said. The president “is highly unlikely” to pick Lamido as his vice-president “or any overtly ambitious person for that matter”, the aide said.