Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has declared that no matter the number of times the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducts governorship election in the state, he will win.
Lalong said he is not afraid of the commission’s decision to conduct supplementary elections in his state.
INEC had fixed March 23 for supplementary elections, after declaring the governorship elections in six states inconclusive.
The states are Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Sokoto, Adamawa and Plateau.
Speaking to State House Correspondents, yesterday, after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the current security situation as well as the preparation for the supplementary elections, Lalong said there is no way, as the sitting governor he will not be able to garner 3,000 votes to make up the 49,000 required by INEC to declare him the winner.
The governor said: “My meeting with the president is the usual briefing. I call it usual because of my passion for peace in the state. It is not about the election, it is about the peace, to ensure we have a very peaceful election. So far, so good, we have had very good and peaceful elections. We are coming back for a supplementary election, and I would like INEC to conduct a peaceful election. So, we want the security apparatus to be on ground in the state. That was my briefing to Mr. President.”
Asked if he was panicky about the supplementary elections, Lalong said: “How can I be, when all the votes that were cancelled were my votes? These were areas I won. There was no need for cancellation, but, then, as a lawyer, I still want to comply with the rules, I don’t want to be talking about infringing on the rules when the election’s result is very clear. They said registered voters were 49,000, but the votes were not up to 20,000. But people were still saying we need 49,000 and I was already on top with 45,000 votes. So, we are going to get the 49,000. How can you imagine that a sitting governor can not get 3,000 votes out of 39,000 in an area that I have well dominated for a very long time. So, for me, election is as good as concluded in Plateau State.
“I see it as an opportunity for people whose votes were cancelled to vote. People came and said their votes were cancelled, it is for them to go back and vote, and ensure their votes count this time around. That is why I support that we go back and conduct the elections. If they (INEC) like, let them conduct the elections more than once, we will soon win.”
The governor insisted that the recent attack and cattle rustling has political undertone.
“That was why I said I’m concerned about security. Usually, it starts like that, they start rustling and killing cattle and the next thing you will hear is that it is farmers and herders crisis. I know I’ve addressed that issue for a very long time, and the police is handling the security. So, I informed Mr. President that we are on top of the situation because we wouldn’t want that to escalate into farmers versus herdsmen’s crisis. It is not farmers, herdsmen crisis but criminals trying to foment trouble after losing elections.”
Asked if he suspects the attack has political undertone, he replied: “Very well. I always say it has political undertone; why is it happening immediately after elections? It usually happens either before or immediately after elections, why is it like that? It has some political connotation.”