The Presidency on Wednesday said it regretted the absence of its representatives from a meeting of South-South stakeholders fixed for Tuesday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State
While attributing the development to an emergency meeting of the National Security Council held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on the same day, it said a new date for the meeting would be fixed after dues consultations.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed these in a statement titled “South-South assembly disrupted by emergency security meeting -Presidency.”
Governors and leaders of the South-South region had demanded an unreserved apology from the Presidency for abruptly aborting the meeting.
But Shehu explained that members of the Presidency’s delegation to the meeting were set to proceed to Port Harcourt for the meeting until they were directed to stay back and attend the emergency security meeting presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
He said the President was still committed to hearing from leaders and youths from the region.
The statement read, “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 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.”