Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State on Monday had a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The meeting deliberated on the supplementary governorship elections to be held in Plateau State on Saturday.
Mr Lalong’s visit to the Presidential Villa occurred hours after his counterpart from Bauchi, Mohammed Abubakar, also visited the president. Both governors are members of Mr Buhari’s party, APC.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the electoral commission, INEC, fixed Saturday for supplementary governorship elections in Bauchi, Plateau, Adamawa, Benue, Kano and Sokoto states.
In Plateau, Mr Lalong leads his main challenger, Jerry Useni of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the results announced so far. But the election was declared inconclusive because the margin of cancelled votes is higher than the difference between the two leading candidates.
President Buhari had on Sunday evening said he will not interfere with the supplementary elections.
Speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with Mr Buhari Monday, Mr Lalong said his visit to the villa was the “usual briefing” because of his passion for peace in Plateau State.
“It is not about the election, it is about the peace, to ensure we have a very peaceful election,” he said.
“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 the ground in the state. That was my briefing to Mr President,” he said.
On whether he and his colleagues in the APC were meeting with Mr Buhari because they fear his non-intervention could lead to their electoral defeat, Mr Lalong said that is not the case.
“How can I be panicky 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,” he said.
Mr Lalong said as far as he is concerned, Plateau election is as good as concluded.
He said the supplementary election is just an opportunity for people whose votes were cancelled to be able 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 said.
The governor also spoke about the recent resurgence of violence in Plateau State with reports saying many cattle were rustled over the weekend.
“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 ferment trouble after losing elections,” he said.
He also said he believes the recent attacks are politically motivated because of the timing.
“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.