Indications emerged at the weekend that no fewer than three political camps are at present arrayed against Vice President Namadi Sambo, moving to replace him as veepee, in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
In the first group, according to THISDAY checks, are two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, Ibrahim Shema (Katsina) and Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), who believe that in the event President Goodluck Jonathan picks the party’s ticket, he should anoint one of them as running mate for the election.
Some senior officials in the presidency are also said to have promised either of the two governors the veepee job in a bid to shore up support for President Jonathan in the North.
As a first step to bagging the plum job, Shema and Yuguda are said to have embarked on underground campaigns to emerge as the new chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, to replace NGF Chairman and Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi in the election slated for May.
But their colleagues from the North are said to be blocking the move at present, as a majority of the Northern governors are solidly backing Amaechi to retain the position.
Both Shema and Yuguda are allegedly presenting Sambo as weak and incapable of pulling the North behind President Jonathan in the 2015 election.
One of the governors is alleged to have engaged in sponsoring surveys to portray Sambo as a featherweight politician in the North.
One of the surveys allegedly conducted under the aegis of a group known as Institute of Democracy and Good Governance was said to have arrived at a conclusion that the North would not support Jonathan, if he would use Sambo as his running mate in the election.
In the second group, however, are governors who see themselves as potential presidential contenders from the North.
In this group are Governors Sule Lamido (Jigawa State) and Babangida Aliyu (Niger State).
The calculation of this group also is that in the event that their presidential aspirations fail, they will still command huge status in the North for the running mate slot.
The third group, according to THISDAY findings, comprises prominent politicians from the North who believe that equity demands that Jonathan should not seek another term and who do not reckon with the VP.
However, what this group holds against Sambo, according to a politician close to the VP, is that he refused to bow to the pressure to allow the PDP present a Muslim candidate, rather than the late Patrick Yakowa (a Christian), for the 2011 gubernatorial election in Kaduna State.
According to a PDP topnotch from the North, it is the third group “that has started a malicious campaign which runs against evidence,” that Sambo does not have sufficient clout to represent the North.
“What they are saying is that Namadi doesn’t command the kind of status that Vice President Atiku Abubakar had under President Olusegun Obasanjo but the question they have failed to answer is where did Atiku end up?”
The politician claimed Sambo had done far more for the North than any of politicians in the current dispensation.
According to him, “President Goodluck Jonathan has done much more for the North than any president but, unfortunately, because of politics, he is not being given due credit and it’s not fair. The fact of the matter is that there are more developmental projects in the North today than at any time in the last 14 years of our democracy and it’s all because the VP has been working quietly on some of the issues with the president”.
He mentioned the multi-billion dollars Mambilla and Zungeru hydro projects as well as the several irrigation schemes that are targeted at boosting agriculture in the North; the recently initiated Green Wall project to combat desertification; the reactivation of the Chad basin and the current railway projects, which have reconnected the North with the South, aside revitalising the transport sector.
“I bet that these people who are talking about the influence of the VP know all these things but they would rather prefer Namadi to be at loggerheads with his principal just to be seen as a political force even when such attitude may contribute nothing to the development of his geo-political zone”.
Meanwhile, the National President of the Arewa Youth Forum, Alhaji Gambo Gujungu, apparently reacting to moves by some of the governors to replace Sambo as veepee, said the youths were aware of the subterranean moves by some well-placed politicians to ridicule Sambo, and warned that they would not allow any individual or group to disgrace him.
Gujungu pointed out that although the youths were not politicians, they would, want politicians to respect the office of the VP and accord him the due respect and support.
The AYF leader said: "Sambo is the Northern political leader for now and we expect all Nigerians to respect him and his office as such."