* Parliament approves Sambo with little debate
* As a Muslim northerner, VP maintains political balance
By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA, May 18 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s parliament on Tuesday confirmed a Muslim northerner Namadi Sambo as vice president of Africa’s most populous country, maintaining the regional balance of power in the OPEC member’s ruling party.
As expected, both the Senate and House of Representatives approved Sambo with little debate since President Goodluck Jonathan’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) dominates both chambers.
“The Senate hereby confirms the nomination of architect Namadi Sambo as the Vice President of the Government of the Federation,” Senate President David Mark said.
Under a power-sharing agreement within the PDP, the two top political offices are held by representatives from the Muslim north and Christian south with the presidency rotating every two terms between the two regions.
Jonathan, a Christian southerner, was sworn in this month after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Yar’Adua, a northerner, died during his first term and many expected Jonathan to appoint a powerful northern vice president, who would then become the ruling party’s presidential nominee.
As a relative newcomer to national politics, Sambo is not seen as an obvious contender for next year’s presidential elections and his appointment could clear the way for a run by Jonathan himself. [ID:nLDE64C0EU]
Jonathan has not ruled out running for president although he said in April he wanted at least three months to see how reforms enacted so far took hold.
Sambo, who was Kaduna’s state governor before Jonathan’s appointment, is expected to be formally sworn in as vice president on Wednesday.
(For a factbox on Sambo, click [ID:nLDE64H12G]
For a snap analysis, click [ID:nLDE64C0EU]
Additional reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Louise Ireland