Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, yesterday said the forthcoming March 23 supplementary governorship election in the state would be a walkover for him because the number of votes he needs to win are very meagre.
Answering questions from journalists after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the State House, Lalong who dismissed insinuations that he was panicking, said such insinuations were unnecessary because he was already ahead with 45,000.
Lalong who is one the five governors that will be standing for supplementary elections on March 23, faulted cancellation of votes during the election which resulted in the declaration of March 9 governorship election inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
However, he said he had decided to accept the declaration in conformity with laid down rules.
According to him, being ahead of the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Jerry Useni, with 45,000 votes had already given him a competitive edge over his closest rival, adding that the rerun will provide the opportunity for those who had earlier been disenfranchised to cast their votes.
“How can I be (panicking) 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 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 cannot get 3,000 votes out of 39,000 in an area that I have well 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,” he boasted.
On the recent violence in the state by cattle rustlers, Lalong said the violence was politically motivated, alleging that it was perpetrated by aggrieved persons who had lost elections.
“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 farmers-herders crisis. I know that I have 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 -herdsmen crisis. It is not 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 insisted.