Gov elections: I am not afraid of rerun ― Lalong
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has said he is not jittery over the March 23 Governorship Election Re-run in the state.
Lalong expressed this view while speaking with State House correspondents after a private meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The March 9 governorship election in the state was declared inconclusive as the margin between the votes polled by Lalong and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’ s candidate was less than the number of votes cancelled.
The governor said he was confident of victory as the units where votes were cancelled were his strongholds
“How can I be afraid when all the votes that were cancelled were my votes? These were areas that 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 elections 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 cannot get 3,000 votes out of 39,000 in an area that I have dominated for a very long time. So for me, the election is as good as concluded in Plateau State.
“I see it as an opportunity for people whose votes were cancelled for them to vote. People came and said their votes were cancelled; it is for them to go back and vote and ensure their vote counts 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 still win.’’
Lalong, said, however, that his meeting with the president was the usual briefing borne out of his passion for security and peace in the state.
He said that the last election in the state as peaceful and he would want INEC to also conduct peaceful supplementary elections; hence his briefing with the president on the need for adequate security.
On the recent attack in the state in which cattle were rustled, he said it had a political undertone but was under control.
“That was why I said I am 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 the farmers-herders crisis.
“I know that I have addressed that issue for a very long time and the police are handling the issue.
“So I informed the president that we are on top of the situation because we wouldn’t want that to escalate into a farmers-herdsmen crisis.
“It is not a farmers-herdsmen crisis; it is criminals trying to foment trouble after losing elections.
“I always say it has political undertone; why is it happening immediately after elections. It usually happens immediately before or after elections; why is it like that? It has some political connotation.’’
He said that getting reelected would mean continuation and completion of projects and initiation of new projects.
Lalong said that civil servants had been worried that they would go back to the era of being owed salaries again if he lost the election.
“So we want to continue with payment of salaries, gratuities, completion of projects that were started before I came and the ones I have initiated. That is the Next Level in Plateau,’’ he said.