Mohammed Namadi Sambo was born on 2 August 1954 in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. He attended Baptist Primary School in Kakuri, Kaduna before attending Kobi Primary School in Bauchi and Towns School No. 1 in Zaria. From 1967 until 1971, he attended Government Secondary School, now Alhuda-Huda College, in Zaria. He attended the School of Basic Studies at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1972, after which he gained admission into the Department of Architecture, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he graduated in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours BSc (Hons). He also holds a Masters degree (MSc) in Architecture.
Sambo served with the Oyo State Ministry of Works and Housing for the National Youth Service Corps up to August 1979. In 1988 he was appointed Commissioner for Works, Transport and Housing, Kaduna. In 1990, Namadi Sambo left the service of Kaduna State Government and went back to private practice.
In May 2007, Mohammed Namadi Sambo assumed office of the Governor of Kaduna State, Nigeria. His term ended on 18 May 2010. Sambo had an 11-point agenda as Governor of Kaduna State that was to focus on empowering the youth and women of the community and to address security for the state. While still serving as governor, he was picked by the president of Nigeria to become his deputy.
Following the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua, Goodluck Jonathan became the President. Jonathan nominated Sambo as Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his official correspondence conveying the nomination of Sambo for the VP position was received by the National Assembly on Friday 15 May 2010. On 18 May 2010, the National Assembly approved President Goodluck Jonathan's nomination of former Kaduna State governor, Namadi Sambo, an architect, for the position of Vice President.
On 19 May 2010, Namadi Sambo was formally sworn in as the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.