Namadi Sambo Sworn In as Nigeria’s Vice President

Namadi Sambo was sworn in as Nigeria’s vice president following the approval of his nomination by parliament yesterday.

The office became vacant after Goodluck Jonathan took over as head of state on May 6 following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua a day earlier after a prolonged illness.

Jonathan said at the ceremony that Nigeria’s democracy had “stabilized” after the political crisis triggered by his predecessor’s departure from the country for medical treatment in November. Sambo, 55, is a Muslim from the same northwestern section of the country as Yar’Adua. He gave up the post of governor of the state of Kaduna to become vice president of Africa’s most populous nation.

Sambo’s appointment is a sign that Jonathan may run for the presidency in next year’s election, said analysts including Yvonne Mhango of Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest lender. Such a move would run counter to the ruling party’s policy of rotating candidates between the mainly Muslim north and the Christian south for two four-year terms. Jonathan, a southern Christian from the oil-producing Bayelsa state, hasn’t ruled himself out of the race.

“I’ve always been of the view that Jonathan would like to put his hat forward for next year’s election and I think the appointment of an unknown candidate, in my view, reinforces that,” Mhango, a Johannesburg based economist, said on May 13.

Sectarian tensions have worsened this year, with clashes between Muslims and Christians around the central city of Jos claiming hundreds of lives since January. Army officers have seized power six times since Nigeria’s independence from the U.K. in 1960, once sparking a civil war from 1967 to 1970.

Sambo was elected governor of Kaduna in 2007 as the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. He holds a master of science degree in architecture from Ahmadu Bello University in the northern city of Zaria.

The PDP has provided the president since the West African nation emerged from military rule in 1999.

Nigeria vies with Angola to be the continent’s top oil producer.

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