Governors from the Six South-south geopolitical zone and other important personalities from the Niger Delta region who have gathered for a meeting with the presidency, have expressed their displeasure over the excuse given by the Presidency for failing to attend a major stakeholders’ meeting scheduled to hold at the banquet hall of Government House,Port Harcourt. Rivers State, on Tuesday.
Delegates to the South South Governors meeting arrived in Rivers state early and were seated accordingly some exchanged pleasantries
Already some traditional rulers and youth leaders were also seated for the meeting, where the Chief of Staff to the President Prof IBRAHIM GAMBARI was expected to make a brief stop over to address the south South Leaders on the aftermath effects of the EndSARS protest, with focus on resources control and also to discuss the emerging threats to the peace in the Niger Delta region.
A source and aide to one of the governors said the meeting was arranged days before Tuesday and wondered why the Presidency chose to treat such crucial gathering with levity.
The Federal Government delegation was supposed to include all the Ministers from the geopolitical zone and other persons, to be led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Agboola Ibrahim Gambari But at 3:00 pm, news filtered in that the delegation from the presidency would not make it. The development caused anger and uproar was described by thee leaders as another show of neglect.
Speaking to the South-South leaders at the hall amidst the panic, the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, expressed sadness that the meeting was called off, noting that the meeting called at the instance of the presidency, in the first place, he explained that the meeting time was earlier adjusted twice from 11 am to 1 pm on the same day on the excuse that the President Mohammed Buhari was meeting with the Director of Department of State Services (DSS) and the Inspector General of Police, who was supposed to be part of the presidential delegation for the meeting. Governor Okowa, who is also the chairman of South-South Governors Forum, said he later got a call from the Chief of Staff to the President on Tuesday afternoon, announcing the eventual cancellation of the meeting. He said he felt disappointed that the region could be treated in such disdain. ”the people of the region have been embarrassed, disgraced, and disrespected, stating that the South-South geopolitical zone was a very important part of the nation and the governors feel insulted because of the traditional rulers who had gathered for the meeting, deserved to be revered”. He said “As governors, we feel very touched and very sad about what has happened. And having also listened to our youths, we can feel the anger. As a mark of respect for our people, because you are the stakeholders of our region, we felt it was necessary for us to consult with you before taking any decision, if we take our decision without consulting with you, then we would have added to the disrespect that has just been meted on you. “We call for a public apology, not for the governors alone. We call for a public apology because this meeting was not called at our instance.
It was called at the instance of the Presidency. The time was changed last night. We understood and we talked to our people. Some of us did not sleep in trying to put things together. We have gotten to a very bad start. So we are going to convey this message to the chief of staff to the president. “We deserve as a region unreserved public apology to the region, particularly to our traditional rulers and the leaders in this zone, which include our Christian leaders, opinion leaders, our women, and our youths, and also the governors of the zone who were voted into office and that is the least that we expect for us to accept the reconvene of this meeting.”