Why I dumped FEC for Senate – Lalong

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  • Explains Tinubu’s connection
  • Akpabio declares two senatorial districts’ seats vacant

A former governor of Plateau State and immediate Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Simon Lalong, said on Wednesday that he actually wanted to be a senator after he served his tenure out as a governor in May 2023.

“This was my first choice, to be candid. This was my first choice, to be candid,” he stated shortly after his inauguration by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, during plenary on Wednesday.

According to him, he opted to hold the position of a minister in the interim and on the invitation of Tinubu because he had a case he was pursuing at the courts.

Lalong promised to do his best to serve his constituents to his human abilities.

Akpabio, during plenary on Wednesday, also declared vacant the seats of Ebonyi South and Yobe East Senatorial Districts.

The seats became vacant following the appointments of David Umahi and Ibrahim Geidam as Ministers of Work and Police Affairs respectively.

Since their appointments as ministers, the two senatorial districts have been left unrepresented at the upper chamber.

Akpabio, during plenary, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct bye-elections in the two senatorial districts for representation at the upper chamber.

“INEC may therefore wish to commence the process of conducting bye-elections to fill the vacancies immediately,” the Senate president said.

The former governor of Plateau State took the oath of office about 11.57am on the floor of the Senate.

Akpabio immediately congratulated Lalong, a former Governor of Plateau State, and the Director-General of the All Progressives Congress Campaigns during the 2023 presidential poll that produced President Bola Tinubu.

Lalong will represent Plateau-South on the platform of the APC.

Lalong, a former Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, had tendered his resignation to President Tinubu on Tuesday.

Also reacting to the inauguration, the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Ganduje, described it as a moment of happiness.

“This is a moment of happiness. We are so happy that he won at the Court of Appeal.

“What Nigerians will expect is good legislation. As we know, the APC has the majority and will work for the prosperity of all Nigerians,” Ganduje added.

The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, had on November 7, 2023 upheld the judgment of the lower tribunal, which declared Lalong the winner of the Plateau-South Senatorial District election.

INEC initially declared the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Napoleon Bali, as the winner of the polls.

Bali had scored 148,844 votes, while Lalong recorded 91,674, according to INEC.

Lalong challenged the result on the grounds that the PDP had no proper structures in the state on which a candidate could contest for an election.

Lalong officially tendered his resignation to President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday to enable him to take his seat at the Senate as lawmaker representing Plateau South Senatorial District.

His Special Adviser on Media, Simon Macham, said in a statement on Tuesday that the former governor of Plateau State submitted his letter of resignation to Tinubu in Abuja.

Macham said while submitting his resignation letter to the President on Tuesday, the minister reminded Tinubu that after exhaustive legal processes, the Court of Appeal declared him as the duly elected Senator representing Plateau South and directed the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue him a Certificate of Return.

“Lalong said the decision for his resignation was not made lightly because of the trust and confidence that President Bola Tinubu placed in him as a minister in his cabinet, having served as the Director-General of the Tinubu/Shettima Campaign Council, which delivered victory for the APC,” the statement read.

The statement further quoted the former governor as telling Tinubu that after extensive consultations with critical stakeholders and his constituents, it becomes expedient for him to proceed and take his seat at the Red Chamber to continue to contribute to the Renewed Hope agenda of his government and the growth of democracy at large.

“Lalong expressed deep gratitude to Mr. President for the honour and privilege of serving in his cabinet and for the personal support and guidance he gave him during his assignment as minister.

“The outgoing minister promised that while at the Senate, he will continue to give Mr President his loyalty, support and cooperation towards the success of the Renewed Hope Agenda and the success of the APC in the relentless pursuit of a stronger, united and more prosperous Nigeria.

“The Senator-elect was at the National Assembly to submit his Certificate of Return and relevant documents to the Clerk of the Senate. He met with the Deputy Senate President, Sen. Barau Jibrin, former Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the Senator representing Plateau Central District, Diket Plang, and some Senators.

“The outgoing minister will be sworn in as Senator representing Plateau South Senatorial District on Wednesday December 20, 2023,” Macham said.