Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong says he places more premium on the security of lives and property of citizens of the state, more than the forthcoming supplementary gubernatorial election.
He made the remark on Monday, while speaking to State House Correspondents, soon after he met behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari.
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 very peaceful elections. So far so good, we have had very good peaceful elections. We are coming back for supplementary elections, I will like INEC to conduct a peaceful election and so we will like the security apparatus to be on ground in the state. That was my briefing to Mr. President.”
The Governor, who said he was not afraid of the election, expressed optimism that he will win no matter the number of times the election is conducted.
“How can I be afraid of a supplementary election 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 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 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 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 still win,” he said.
On a recent attack in the state, where some cows were rustled, the Governor said the right measures are being taken to arrest the culprits and prevent further occurrence.
He stressed that such incidences have political undertones and are usually aimed at disrupting the political process.
“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 are handling the security aspect. 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 ferment 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,” Lalong stressed.
The Governor pledged that if elected for a second term of office, his administration will ensure it completes ongoing projects, introduce new ones and also sustain the payment of salaries.
“Well, the next level I have preached severally is that people are very happy that there will be continuation of completion of projects and initiation of new projects. The civil servants have been crying that if I loss elections that means they will be owed salaries again. 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 State,” he pledged.