GOVERNORS and leaders of the South-South region have demanded an unreserved apology from the Presidency for abruptly aborting a crucial stakeholders’ meeting scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
The Presidency had fixed a meeting for Tuesday with the governors and other leaders of the region to discuss burning national issues affecting the region and the aftermath of the EndSARS protests.
A statement issued by the Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, indicated that the Federal Government delegation was supposed to include the ministers from the geopolitical zone and other persons.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, and Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, were all conspicuously absent at the meeting, while the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio walked in when the meeting had ended.
Addressing South-South leaders at the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Port Harcourt, the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, who presided over the session, decried the botched meeting, which was called at the instance of the Presidency.
Okowa, who is also the Chairman of the 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.
The Delta State governor said he felt really disappointed that the region could be treated with such disdain and maintained that the people of the region were embarrassed, disgraced and disrespected.
“As governors, we feel very touched and very sad about what has happened. 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.”
Speaking, former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, Ledum Mitee, said he was concerned about the abrupt cancellation of the meeting, not only as an insult but an affront on the people of the South-South zone.
Similarly, a member of the 2014 national political reform conference and Niger Delta activist, Ms. Ann-Kio Briggs, said the Federal Government on Tuesday demonstrated the value it actually placed on the South-South geopolitical zone.
Those present at the meeting included governors Ben Ayade (Cross River State), Udom Emmanuel (Akw Ibom); Governor Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Douye Diri (Bayelsa) and Godwin Obaseki (Edo State).