The Presidency has said it regretted that its representatives were absent at the meeting of South-South stakeholders slated for Tuesday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The Presidency stated this on Wednesday in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, attributing the development to an emergency meeting of the National Security Council held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on the same day. It also added that a new date for the meeting would be fixed after due consultations.Wotzup Nigeria had reported that Governors of the geopolitical zone had demanded the Presidency offer the region an unreserved apology for abruptly aborting the meeting.
Shehu however explained that members of the Presidency’s delegation to the meeting were set to proceed to Port Harcourt for the meeting before they recieved instructions to stay back and attend the emergency security meeting presided over the President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that 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.”