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Nigeria president 'chooses Namadi Sambo as deputy'

Namadi Sambo
Namadi Sambo worked as an architect until he became a governor in 2007

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has named Kaduna state governor Namadi Sambo as his new vice-president, an official has told the BBC.

Mr Sambo, 57, must now be approved by both houses of parliament.

The move follows the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua and the swearing-in of his successor Mr Jonathan last week.

Whoever is named as vice-president is seen as a strong contender for the 2011 presidential elections in Africa's most populous nation, analysts say.

NAMADI SAMBO
Born: 1952
Married with six children
Elected Kaduna governor in 2007
Qualified architect
No personal power base
Ally of former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida

It remains unclear whether Mr Jonathan will seek to contest the elections on behalf of the governing People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Mr Jonathan is a southerner and the PDP has said its candidate will be a northerner - continuing its practice of alternating power between north and south.

Mr Sambo is from the north but there have been strong suggestions that Mr Jonathan may try to overturn the PDP tradition.

"The president nominated governor Namadi Sambo last [Wednesday] night,'' Kaduna state spokesman Saidu Adamu told the BBC, confirming reports in local newspapers.

''His name will now go forward to the National Assembly for ratification."

ANALYSIS
Caroline Duffield
By Caroline Duffield, BBC News, Abuja

Few people in Kaduna had ever heard of Namadi Sambo when he emerged to become governor in 2007. Barely even campaigning, he seemed anointed by the outgoing governor.

A softly-spoken moderate, and a practising Muslim, Mr Sambo was close to President Yar'Adua.

As governor, he has taken security seriously - Kaduna has a history of deadly ethnic and religious riots. But other promises - to build roads and improve services - have not been realised.

With no significant political base, Mr Sambo is not thought to be ambitious, and is unlikely to overshadow President Goodluck Jonathan. "A safe choice," said one Abuja insider. "No way will he rock the political boat." Is this the man who will lead the PDP into elections next year? Or will he become a supporting act in a presidential run by Goodluck Jonathan?

However, the president's office has not yet officially confirmed these reports.

The BBC's Caroline Duffield in Lagos says Mr Sambo is not a prominent politician, does not have a big power base and his name did not figure in public speculation about likely vice-presidents.

But she says he is likely to be confirmed by the Senate, which is expected to meet later on Thursday.

Married with six children, he is a qualified architect who became governor in 2007.

He is an ally of former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, who recently said he would seek to contest the elections, our correspondent says.

She says he has taken security very seriously since becoming Kaduna governor.

Some analysts say he may have been chosen because he would not pose a threat to President Jonathan.



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