The presidency has declared that it regrets the ‘unavoidable postponement’ of a scheduled meeting with governors, traditional rulers, and other stakeholders from the south-south region on Tuesday.
Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu in a statement on Wednesday, explained that the federal government delegation could not appear at the meeting due to the emergency security meeting summoned by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The statement added that the absence is not due to disrespect on the part of the presidency, adding that the regret and the explanation have been conveyed to the hosts through the right channels.
Governors who had gathered at the meeting which failed to hold were Nyesom Wike of Rivers; Ben Ayade of Cross River; Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom; Douye Diri of Bayelsa, and Godwin Obaseki of Edo state.
The statement from the presidency reads:
“The Presidency wishes to explain that the absence of the federal government delegation at the planned meeting with governors and stakeholders of the South-South region was necessitated by an emergency security meeting summoned by the President, certainly not out of disrespect.”
“The delegation to the meeting, under the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, ministers and heads of security and intelligence agencies were in full readiness to proceed to Port Harcourt until they were directed to stay back for the emergency security meeting.”
“This information and regret for the inconvenience caused were conveyed to the hosts of the meeting through what we believed were the right channels.”
“As may have been gleaned from the statement read by the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, the extraordinary National Security Council meeting, under the President, was called in view of the gravity of the security situation affecting all parts of the country,including the South-South in the aftermath of the ENDSARS protests, and the need to rise to protect our national security and territorial integrity.”
“The President is strongly and resolutely committed to hearing from leaders, stakeholders and our youth on burning issues affecting all parts of the federation and to this effect, a new date for the meeting with the South-South will be agreed after due consultations with the parties concerned.”
“Once again, the unavoidable postponement of the meeting is regretted.”
The south-south governors and leaders had earlier expressed anger and demanded an apology from the presidency for cancelling the meeting scheduled to take place in Port Harcourt, Rivers state on Tuesday.
The meeting was reportedly moved twice from 11am to 1pm, before Ibrahim Gambari, chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari was said to have called Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, chairman of the South-south Governors Forum, and cancelled the meeting.
Okowa while speaking on Tuesday at the banquet hall of the government house in Port Harcourt said the people, leaders and stakeholders of the region have been “disrespected and embarrassed” by the incident