By Francisca Preye
South-South leaders on Tuesday demanded an unreserved apology from the presidency for abruptly canceling a stakeholders meeting scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt.
According to a statement from the Rivers State Government made available to our correspondent, the presidency had fixed a meeting for Tuesday with the Governors and other leaders of the region to discuss burning national issues, including the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest.
The federal government delegation was supposed to include all the Ministers from the geopolitical zone.
However, after the meeting was adjusted twice from 11am to 1pm, Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, put a call through to the Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, Ifeanyi Okowa and cancelled the meeting.
Okowa said the people of the region have been embarrassed, disgraced and disrespected.
He stated that the South-South geopolitical zone is a very important component part of the nation and the governors feel insulted because the traditional rulers who had gathered for the meeting, deserved to be revered.
“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 actually 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.
He added: “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.”
Present for the cancelled meeting were Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River; Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom; Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State; and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and other stakeholders of the region.
Meanwhile,the minister of the Niger-Delta Affairs,Chief Godswill Akpabio who gate crashed shortly after the botched meting conveyed the presidency apology by reshedulling the meeting for next Tuesday.