Nigeria: Lalong Secures Re-Election - Useni Heads for Tribunal

25 March 2019

Governor Simon Lalong had been dubbed Governor Alert on the claim that his main achievement on the plateau was the payment of salaries.

Upon that claim, his critics had also upon misgivings about his handling of the repeated herdsmen attacks on the plateau also dubbed him as Governor One Tenure.

Lalong became governor of Plateau State in 2015 mainly on account of the popular uprising against the decision of Governor Jonah Jang to foist a kinsman in the person of the late Senator GyangPwjok as his successor.

That the goodwill which brought Lalong to office was manifested by the fact that he was forced to a rerun in his bid for a second term during the March 9, 2019 governorship election.

The governor was also gifted the advantage of having a rudderless opposition which only rallied together at the last minute by which time the opportunity for a robust attack on the governor's agenda had been virtually removed.

The PDP's decision to present the septuagenarian retired general, Senator Jerry Useni as its candidate was reasoned on the need to have someone from Lalong's Southern Senatorial District who was willing to serve only one term.

No jihad in Plateau--Police

However, the PDP's decision to go for a running mate who was virtually unknown and who did not bring any value to the ticket in the midst of vibrant political actors was undoubtedly one of its costliest mistakes.

So, in the end Governor Lalong who had been dubbed as a one-term governor got the fighting chance to push for a second term.

He openly apologized to the people to forgive him whatever wrong he did the people and give him another chance to complete the projects which he had started. He took advantage of any public platform he got to highlight his achievements, promising to do more if allowed to get back to the Little Rayfield Government House. He also massively engaged in youth entrepreneurial programmes, upgraded the traditional stools of the traditional rulers and intensified efforts at addressing the welfare needs of civil servants.

Having tried to endear himself to the people once again, the October, 2018 local government election conducted in the State brought a temporary setback as the people again accused him of colluding with the State Independent Electoral Commission to short-change the people of their preferred candidates in the local government election and called for his being voted out of office.

Somehow, the series of protests was a minus to the Governor as he, unlike the 2015 goodwill, had to struggle to get re-election for a second term in office. Many pundits believe not having an outright win in the initial exercise was a slap; an indication that all is not well between the leader and the led.

At the first exercise, Lalong polled 583,255; the PDP's Senator Jeremiah Useni polled 538,326 with a margin of 44,929 votes and 49,377 cancelled votes, necessitating a rerun.

The results of the runoff declared yesterday showed that Lalong got 595,582 votes while Useni got 546,813 votes with a difference of 48,769 votes.

The result indicates that the APC is yet to get a complete grip on the Plateau. Though its structure emerged from the PDP, it is not convincing that the APC has what it takes to cripple its major opposition, the PDP in the 2023 elections.

The major factors which ensured it won the just concluded exercise could be said to be the power of incumbency and the resolve of his people not to let him down as anything short of those would have given his opponent victory over him.

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