Ahead of the 2015 presidential contest, Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo and Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema, are now locked in a battle to contest as President Goodluck Jonathan’s running mate, even as their aspirations have sharply divided a section of northern leaders.
There have been speculations about the quest of some northern politicians, especially two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina and Isa Yuguda of Bauchi to replace Vice President Sambo as Jonathan’s running mate should the president decide to run in the 2015 race.
To achieve this, the duo, though in their separate secret moves, were said to have begun subtle campaigns to portray Sambo as lacking in electoral value that can swing North’s support for Jonathan in the 2015 election. Though Yuguda has come out twice recently to deny his involvement in any of such plot, the development has divided a section of northern leaders who both parties have been wooing to support their aspiration.
Governor Yuguda had, in a recent interview, declared that he intends to return to his farm once he leaves the state Government House in 2015. “I will not let anyone shift my focus from the task at hand, which is to improve the lives of the people of the state, which is the mandate the people of my state gave to me when they re-elected me,” he stated.
A top figure in northern politics, who will not want to be named because one of the parties in the power struggle had contacted him, said: “It is not in doubt that Namadi wants to keep his job beyond 2015 and it is certain that Shema is gunning for the same seat and this has led to some kind of building contacts and reaching out to prominent and influential traditional and religious leaders as well as notable groups and elders in our region by both parties.
Opinions of various leaders and elders are already divided over their moves but the North is yet to decide which direction to go in the election year because a lot of things will still come into place between now and then.”
Another northern leader and National Vice Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Senator JKN Waku, who spoke to Saturday Sun on the issue, said eventhough the region has not taken a decision on which political party or candidate to support in 2015, his interaction with other northern leaders so far shows: “They will rather stand with a Sambo they know than a Shema they don’t know.
“In my opinion and from my interaction with some of my colleagues since this report on the power struggle became public knowledge, the North will prefer Namadi to Shema as a running mate if Jonathan is to run and I will tell you why. “This is because the VP has entrenched himself in northern politics more than Shema.
The VP also recognises the leadership of ACF, participates in our activities and interacts with the body as a whole. So, if Jonathan must run, it has to be with Sambo and this is without prejudice to what is to be the position of the region when the time comes to take a decision on the 2015 election.”
The controversial politician, however, declined to confirm or deny whether Vice President Sambo is reaching out to northern leaders and groups, including the ACF to counter the move by Governor Shema of Katsina. He merely said: “Consultations and interactions are vital ingredients of politics and survival, so anybody can do that publicly or secretly.”