Daniel Howden: Choice of deputy will reveal Jonathan's gameplan

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The Independent Online

Despite the reverence for the dead that saw even the Niger Delta militants Mend pay their respects to Umaru Yar'Adua, few observers in Nigeria are wasting any more time on a president who was at death's door for much of his time in office.

All eyes are instead on two appointments – one inevitable and one possible – that could go a long way to deciding what happens next in Nigeria.

The newly sworn-in Goodluck Jonathan must name a vice president. The strength of that appointment will reveal whether he intends to try to run in presidential elections in April next year or merely act as a caretaker leader until then. If he appoints a powerful vice president that will be a clear indication that he intends to give in to those inside the ruling party who want him to step aside in favour of a Muslim candidate from the north of the country. A more junior appointment will show that he plans to hold on.

A more intriguing sign of intent would be to recall the highly respected Nuhu Ribadu as a mooted special adviser on corruption.

The former head of the financial crimes unit provoked a storm when he revealed that $380bn in public money had been stolen since independence in 1960.

His outspoken attempts to tackle corruption saw him chased out of the country in 2008. If the new President persuades him to make a comeback there will be renewed hope that Nigeria's worst blight could be addressed.

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