By Bashir Adigun
ABUJA, Nigeria–Nigerian lawmakers approved a Muslim politician as the new vice president of Africa’s most populous nationlast Tuesday, despite the legislative session descending into screaming chaos at several points.
The Senate quickly confirmed Namadi Sambo by a voice vote, installing the Kaduna state governor as President Goodluck Jonathan’s deputy. However, members of the House of Representatives began screaming into microphones to delay Sambo’s confirmation.
At one point, those supporting the governor began singing, “Give us Sambo,” as someone repeatedly yelled for order across the melee.
“I am pleading with colleagues to please to take their seats and take this matter with all sense of patriotism,” House speaker Dimeji Bankole begged at one point.
Some lawmakers are upset as making Sambo vice president will mean his Christian deputy will take over as governor in the northern state dominated by Muslims. Others remain concerned that Jonathan, a Christian from the country’s south, has taken over after the May 5 death of elected President Umaru Yar’Adua, a Muslim from the north.
An unwritten power-sharing agreement in the nation’s ruling party called for the Muslim north to hold the presidency for two, four-year terms. Yar’Adua died before ending his first term and Jonathan could run in the oil-rich nation’s 2011 presidential election.
Jonathan nominated Sambo last week as his vice presidential pick, though his office never issued any public statements about the governor.
By picking Sambo, a little known political figure in the country of 150 million people, Jonathan avoided naming any of a number of powerful Muslim politicians. Analysts say this may signal that Jonathan is consolidating his political power as a possible candidate.