Lagos — THE 36 State Governors, after a marathon meeting, Sunday night, reached a consensus over whom to support for the post of Vice President.
Vanguard can authoritatively reveal that the meeting in Abuja, said to have been characterized by fierce horse trading and political calculations, saw the governors going for Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Danjuma Goje, as the candidate of their choice.
Impeccable sources told Vanguard that the governors met under the auspices of Governors’ Forum to assess all the options before arriving at the two-term Governor of Gombe State.
Going by antecedents, the governors might have their way as they did when they determined to keep Prince Vincent Ogbulafor as Chairman of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party’s despite calls for his removal.
Also, they opposed the removal of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua from office which would have allowed Goodluck Jonathan, then the Vice President, to become a substantive President before the demise of his boss.
Vanguard can also reveal that the governors will present their choice to the President anytime from now with a promise to give him all the backing necessary if President Jonathan wished to contest the 2011 polls.
The Sunday meeting, according to a competent source who attended, saw some governors being technically knocked out of the race for the nation’s number two citizen.
For example, Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State was dumped because he was from the same North Central zone with the Senate President, Senator David Mark.
Meaning if he is made the Vice President, Mark will have to relinquish the Senate leadership position.
Also, the former Governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Markarfi, was considered, but had to be dumped after heated arguments in favour and against his candidacy.
VP appointment Jonathan’s prerogative–Babangida
Meantime, former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, said, yesterday, it was purely the prerogative of President Goodluck Jonathan to appoint a Vice-President he understood and could work with to achieve his programmes.
Babangida said the controversy trailing the appointment of a Vice President, was unnecessarily heating up the polity when the country was still mourning the death of former President, Yar’Adua.
He said: “It is important to allow President Jonathan to conclude the mourning period as a mark of respect for his predecessor before making his own choice of a Vice President and not anybody’s choice. The right person for the job is a man or woman who will respect the person and office of the President, and not one who will defer to lobbyists.”
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Prince Kazeem Afegbua, the retired General who recently indicated interest to run for 2011 Presidential election said: “It is not unusual to observe the frenzy which the lobby for Vice President has generated in the last few days across the country.
“It is part of democracy and leadership recruitment. As we mourn the passing on of our beloved former President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, it is our responsibility to give the necessary support to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and his cabinet members at this period of mourning rather than overheating the polity with the quest of who becomes the Vice President. The choice and or selection of a Vice President should be and is the prerogative of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“He needs to select a Vice President who can defer to him and who will respect the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Such a Vice President will work for Nigeria through the President. The President, therefore, must know the elements and mind-set of his Vice President, and must be able to establish the fact that such individual will buy into his agenda of providing sound leadership for the country.
The President does not need to choose somebody whom he will have to understudy before getting to know him or her. The right person for the job is a man or woman who will respect the person and office of the President, and not one who will defer to lobbyists.
“It is important, therefore, to allow the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to conclude the mourning period as a mark of respect for his predecessor before making his own choice of a Vice President and not anybody’s choice. He has the prerogative and he should be allowed to exercise it without equivocation or undue pressures from certain quarters.
“His choice should be informed by the understanding that he can work with such an individual, he knows the individual’s priorities, potentials, qualities and attributes as well as patriotism and loyalty. Nobody should impose any candidate on the President on account of what is often called “political balancing and expediency.”
“Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces has a responsibility to the nation hence he should be allowed to carry out his prerogative powers without undue interference and imposition.”