South-South leaders on Tuesday demanded an apology from the presidency for abruptly calling off a stakeholders’ meeting meant to hold in Port Harcourt.
In a statement from the Rivers State Government, the presidency had scheduled a meeting for Tuesday with South-South Governors and other leaders of the region to discuss burning national issues, including the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest.
The Ministers from the geopolitical zone were to make up the federal government delegation.
After the meeting was adjusted twice from 11am to 1pm, Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, contacted the Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, Ifeanyi Okowa and cancelled the meeting.
Okowa said the governors and traditional rulers who were supposed to be revered have been embarrassed, disgraced and disrespected.
“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.
“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.”
Those present for the meeting include: Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River; Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom; Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State; and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.
Others were the National Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga; former President, Nigerian Bar Association, Onueze Okocha (SAN), among others.