Vice-President Namadi Sambo
•Vice-president denies influencing selection
John Shiklam in Kaduna
Following intense lobbying and politicking, Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero of Kaduna State has picked the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Ambassador Nuhu Bajoga, as his deputy.
But his nomination has caused some disquiet in the state, as a group known as Concerned Southern Kaduna Professionals has kicked against Bajoga as the choice for deputy governor.
The group, in a statement, said that the nomination of the PDP chairman in the state was a betrayal of the people of Southern Kaduna.
Bajoga's nomination was announced yesterday by the Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Saidu Adamu, at a briefing with the Government House press crew.
Saidu said Bajoga's name had been forwarded to the Kaduna State House of Assembly for screening.
Bajoga, 63, emerged the frontline contender for the post barely two days after he appealed to party stakeholders to assist him in the selection process. At least seven people were said to be vying for the position.
Born on July 4, 1949 in Kwoi, Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Bajoga attended SIM Primary School, Baptist Primary School, Keffi, SIM Secondary School, Kagoro and St. Paul's College, Zaria.
He also attended Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna, and Slough College England for his tertiary education.
After his education, Bajoga worked as an accountant in the state civil service before moving to Ashaka Cement as internal audit manager and later General Manager, Services, until he left the company to join politics.
He was Nigeria’s ambassador to Poland from 2004 to 2007 and was elected chairman of the PDP in Kaduna State in March 2011.
Bajoga almost lost his life during the April 2011 election in Zaria when he was attacked by angry thugs.
He is believed to be a close ally of Vice-President Namadi Sambo, which might have worked in his favour during the search for Yero’s deputy.
However, some party stakeholders were said to have favoured Hon. Jonathan Asake, one of the contenders for the position.
The vice-president, nonetheless, has denied influencing the choice of Bajoga as deputy governor.
Sambo's spokesman, Mallam Umar Sani, said Bajoga’s selection was made solely by the governor.
“Did the governor deny selecting him?” he demanded to know when contacted by THISDAY.
Following the demise in a helicopter crash penultimate weekend of the late Patrick Yakowa, who was governor of the state, the Southern Senatorial Zone in Kadua, especially the youths, had agitated for a younger, agile and experienced politician to deputise for Yero.
As such, there was disquiet among political elite and interest groups in the zone when news of Bajoga's nomination filtered in.
The Concerned Southern Kaduna Professionals accused the vice-president of influencing the nomination, saying that it was a plot to short change the Southern Kaduna people politically.
But the Chairman of the Southern Kaduna Elders Forum, Gen. Zamini Lekwot, said as a people, “we are duty bound to support whoever God has chosen”.
He described Bajoga as a prominent son of Southern Kaduna, who as PDP chairman in the state, had proven that he could be trusted.
Lekwot, in a phone conversation with THISDAY, said he had not heard about the nomination, but maintained that Bajoga is a proud son of the soil and of the community, adding that as a community leader, whoever God has chosen “we are duty bound to support him”.
He said as the chairman of the PDP in Kaduna State, Bojoga ensured the peaceful conduct of the local government elections, noting that the polls stood him out as a competent leader.
He expressed hope that the governor and his deputy will work hard to develop the state.
However, the Secretary General of the Southern Kaduna People's Union (SOKAPU), an umbrella body for the Southern Kaduna people, Mr. Adamu Marshall, told THISDAY on the phone that the body would not make any comment on the nomination for now.
Other politicians in the state also declined comment, preferring to wait until Bajoga is cleared by the state House of Assembly.
The state assembly is on recess, but may convene an emergency session to consider the nomination.