The Nigerian presidency has expressed regret over the absence of its delegation from a meeting of South-South stakeholders that was fixed for Tuesday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, stating its absence wasn’t a result of disrespect.
A presidential aide Garba Shehu had attributed the development to an emergency meeting of the National Security Council held at the Presidential Villa on the same day and said a new date for the meeting would be fixed after due consultations.
Governors and leaders of the South-South region of the country had demanded an unreserved apology from the Presidency for abruptly aborting the meeting.
Shehu, a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity in a statement 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 Nigerian President.
“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 statement read.
Shehu in the statement said “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.”
By Abel Ejikeme