Nigerian surprise

ABUJA - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has nominated Kaduna state governor Namadi Sambo as vice-president of Africa's most populous nation, a presidency source said yesterday.

ABUJA - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has nominated Kaduna state governor Namadi Sambo as vice-president of Africa's most populous nation, a presidency source said yesterday.

As a relative newcomer to national politics Sambo is not seen as an obvious contender for next year's presidential elections and his appointment could clear the way for a run by Jonathan himself.

Jonathan, who was sworn in last week after the death of president Umaru Yar'Adua, surprised many by not choosing as his deputy a political heavyweight who would be well positioned to go on and contest the presidency next year.

"It is true. Sambo has been chosen by the president to be the vice-president," the source said.

The 58-year-old northern governor, elected to his first term in 2007, must now be approved by both houses of parliament. A spokesperson for Sambo declined to comment.

"Sambo is a dark horse and relatively unknown figure in politics," said Ayodele Thompson, director of the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis.

"He was not so active in politics before he became governor in 2007."

Under a power-sharing agreement within the ruling People's Democratic Party, the presidency should rotate every two terms between the Muslim north and Christian south to avoid an imbalance of power.

Yar'Adua, a northerner, died during his first term and many expected Jonathan to appoint a powerful northern vice-president, who would then become the ruling party's presidential nominee.

"The selection of vice-president is not simply a question of who is best equipped for the job, but who will not upset the most number of factions," said Antony Goldman, head of London-based PM Consulting.

Jonathan himself has not ruled out running for president, though he said in April he wanted at least three months to see how reforms enacted so far took hold. - Reuters

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