The Presidency has boycotted a meeting with the six governors from the south-south geopolitical zone, traditional rulers, youth leaders, women groups and other major stakeholders scheduled to hold on Tuesday at the Banquet Hall of the government house in Port Harcourt.
The meeting which was to be presided by the President’s Chief of Staff and serving Ministers from the Niger Delta region took another turn when none of the representatives of the Federal government showed up.
In a twist of events, the scheduled meeting was abruptly cancelled when the Chairman of South South Governors Forum, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, who is also governor of Delta state, announced to the gathered stakeholders that the federal government’s delegation will not be represented in the meeting due to a security meeting with the President.
Okowa said he got a call from the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari who noted that they were at the Airport but could not proceed further for the meeting due to an emergency security meeting at the Presidential Villa which had the security chiefs in attendance with the president.
The announcement was received with rage and frustration from the leaders who had gathered for hours waiting for the meeting. They were not economical with their expressions of how they felt about the development while demanding for an unreserved apology from the presidency.
Peter Igbifa, the Ijaw Youth Council while speaking angrily said that he knew the meeting was not going to hold. He advised the South-South governors to decline a phone calls from the Presidency to show their dissatisfaction with the manner the presidency had treated leaders of the region.
A foremost Niger Delta Activist, Annkio Briggs, who was also present at the meeting while addressing the governors said there was nothing happening in Nigeria that will warrant the cancellation of this all important meeting giving the excuse provided by the delegation of the Federal Government.
Governor Okowa further expressed the position of the regional leadership on the issue of the cancelled meeting.
Traditional rulers, youth groups and activists were among those who demanded an unreserved apology from the presidency before any consideration for further dialogue
“We deserve as a region, an unreserved public apology to the region particularly to our traditional rulers and the leaders in this zone.”Youth activist
Some angered traditional rulers speaking to the press expressed their displeasure at the Federal Government’s absence.
His Royal Majesty, Etim Okon, the paramount ruler of Bakassi, said: “There is no single minister here, from here there is nobody representing anybody. Six of you are here and all of us are here. We must take a decisive decision”.
His Royal Majesty, Dandeson Douglas Jaja, who is the Chairman of Rivers State Traditional Rulers also spoke newsmen saying, “This is a total disregard for the traditional rulers and the region”
According to a statement from the Rivers State government the meeting was already scheduled for the leaders to discuss pressing national issues, the #EndSARS protest Aftermath as well as other the issues in the region.
However, after adjustment of the meeting time, the president’s Chief of Staff still called the cancel the meeting.