Vice President Namadi Sambo who is seen as political godfather of the new Kaduna State governor yesterday said he will not interfere in the selection of a deputy governor for the state.
This came as a group called Concerned Southern Kaduna Professionals accused the vice president of meddling in the process of choosing a deputy for new Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero.
Yero had worked as an accountant in a company run by Sambo and also served as Finance commissioner when Sambo was governor of Kaduna State. His appointment as deputy governor in May 2010 was believed to be influenced by the vice president.
Since Yero became governor on Sunday following the death of Mr. Patrick Yakowa, pundits have said Sambo will play a crucial role in determining who becomes a deputy governor.
But speaking to Daily Trust in Kaduna yesterday, spokesman for the vice president Umar Sani said Sambo has allowed a freehand for Yero to choose his deputy.
“You know, the Vice President understands the complexities of Kaduna and he has said that he will not interfere,” Sambo’s spokesman said.
The Southern Kaduna zone is expected to produce the deputy governor, given that the new governor is from the northern part of the state.
“The governor should select someone from Southern Kaduna that he feels they can work together. And that is the beauty of democracy for a wider consultation with the stakeholders from Southern Kaduna, the party and all stakeholders. The person that will be selected will be acceptable by everybody,” Sani added.
A report yesterday said already the southern zone has decided to promote the candidacy of Yakowa’s widow Amina, and that elders from the area met Sambo to push for that.
But the vice president’s spokesman said this was not true. “No, the elders did not make a case for Yakowa’s wife to be deputy. They came on a condolence visit,” he said.
“They told the Vice President that they want the governor to make his own choice but that wider consultation should be done. They did not represent anybody,” he added.
But the group of professionals from Southern Kaduna yesterday accused the vice president of masterminding the “secrecy” with which the selection process is being executed.
“We are worried with the way and manner the selection of deputy governor is shrouded in secrecy at the instance of Vice President Namadi Sambo, without involving people of Southern Kaduna extraction. It is a complete denigration of our sensibilities and political rights,” the group said in a statement by its leaders Dr. Kyari Yates and Dr. John Danfulani.
“(A) precedence (is) being set now for the selection of the deputy governor as one that is calamitous and detrimental to the development of the state as a whole and its peace loving people. The future of Southern Kaduna should not be enslaved in individual interests but to the development and peace of the larger Kaduna State.”
Also yesterday, former Military governor of Rivers State Gen. Zamani Lekwot said no elder from Southern Kaduna endorsed Yakowa’s widow for the position of deputy governor as speculated.
“It’s irresponsible for someone to start discussing about who gets the deputy governor when the corpse of the governor has not been buried,” he said.
“The story linking Southern Kaduna elders that we have endorsed the wife of the late governor is false. It’s a lie. Look, the late governor’s corpse has not even arrived Kaduna. So, it will be improper for anybody to start making statements that I led a delegation to lobby for the post of the deputy governor for the wife of late Yakowa.”
On their visit which was interpreted to mean lobbying for Mrs. Yakowa, Lekwot said, “We went to pay a condolence visit to the wife of the late governor, the present governor and the Vice President Namadi Sambo. It’s out of decorum for anybody to link us in that issue. The elders are more responsible than that.”
On his part, the chairman of the ruling PDP in the state, Ambassador Nuhu Bajoga, said he was not aware if some people have started talking to the wife of the late governor concerning the position of the deputy.
“Whatever the governor decides as the party chairman, I will abide by it. The party cannot take a decision but can only contribute. As a party, we are meeting tonight (yesterday). Southern Kaduna Elders Forum can do their meetings ours as a party will be different. But after our meeting, we are going to meet the governor to agree on some terms,” he said.
“I am hearing that some people are saying I should be deputy governor. But at my age, if people said I should become the deputy governor let it be but I will respect the peoples view. What I must tell you is that, all these things are just coming up to bring confusion. We are mourning and it’s not time for us to be discussing that issue. Everyone has to wait until we concluded our meeting,” Bajoga added.
Questions on helicopter crash
In their statement, the Concerned Southern Kaduna Professionals also raised questions on the circumstances surrounding the helicopter crash that killed Yakowa, along with former National Security Adviser Andrew Azazi and four others in Bayelsa State on Saturday.
“We wonder how Yakowa boarded the crashed helicopter without two other aides with whom they had travelled together from Kaduna to Bayelsa. Based on eye witness reports, the chopper took off, steadied then started wobbling until it made impact on the ground. To think that this also happened in a tight and secured area with armed police and security operatives is nothing but mysterious and demands serious consideration,” the statement said.
The Navy authorities have ruled out sabotage in the helicopter crash but raised an investigation committee to determine the cause of the accident.