February 4, 2023

Plateau officials rate weekend’s loosely competed LG polls “free and fair”

Election Officials at polling station on Saturday

Local Government elections held in Plateau State last Saturday were “free and fair”, Officials say, despite near zero opposition. 

Electoral Officials have announced the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party as the sole winner of the elections in all Local Government Councils and wards in the State. 

The APC contested against some eight unpopular political parties which only fielded candidates for Councillor positions after election Officials disqualified leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the polls. 

The PDP was disqualified for not establishing democratic leadership structures prior to the election. A High Court and an Appeal Court endorsed its disqualification before the polls held.

Officials dispatched election materials across the State early Saturday morning with voting set to end by 3pm local time. Most polling stations were however loosely populated. Photographs of some polling stations shared on social media show election Officials sleeping from idleness due to low turnout of voters.

In Governor Simon Lalong’s home LGA – Shendam, less than ten voters were seen in more than 15 polling stations visited.

Many people of voting age were seen working on their farms. Some voted and went to farm, said Rep member Alphonsus Komsol, while others went to farm before going to vote, Komsol told Journalists.

“You know it is farming season and people mostly voted and went back to their farms that is why you see few people at the polling stations but if you check the voters register you will be amazed at the number of people that have voted,” said the member representing Shendam/Quaanpan/Mikang constituency in the House of Reps.

The APC despite having weak opposition carried out mass “mobilization” for voters to turn out, said Director General, Industrial Training Fund, Joseph Ari. “In the morning there was voter apathy but as time went by, people trouped in due to mobilization by the party,” Ari told Journalists during the polls.

Most citizens were “happy” at the polls, said Mr. Lalong on Saturday. “To prepare for election for a whole year and come and stop it on the eve of the election, that would have been unfair,” Lalong told Journalists in his home village – Ajikamai.

A Court of Appeal on Friday night struck out a suit by PDP seeking to stop the elections for having excluded it.
Mr. Lalong said he had long planned to conduct elections against the odds, due to suits compelling such, including one from the opposition PDP. 

“You know what is happening in our country. Each time you move to the end of the tenure of Local Government councils, people are anxious about caretaker committees. In our own case we already promised that we will not be moving to another caretaker committee.

“In view of the Supreme Court judgement, the caretaker committee is null and void of course two days ago, there was a [court] case in Kwara. They nullified caretaker committees and that was what motivated me and I said we must transit from a democratic regime to another democratic regime.

“Here on the Plateau we have opportunity the same PDP took me to court. They said I was just crying foul that I didn’t want to conduct electionThey said Plateau is safe but I didn’t want to conduct elections. I have the case there it’s still in the High CourtThey said if I didn’t conduct elections there will be crisis,” Lalong said, feeling fulfilled about the polls. “It is the consolidation of the peace in Plateau,” he said.

The noninclusion of opposition PDP was “victory” to APC said Shendam LG Chairman-elect, Mr. Alex Miskoom, “APC lost in same way in Rivers and Zamfara State,” he said. 

The results released on Sunday by Mr. Fabian Ntung, the Chairman of the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) showed the APC winning all elective positions in the State.  The State Governor is expected to inaugurate the elected officials on Monday.