The South-South leaders on Tuesday asked the office of the president to tender an unreserved apology for the abrupt cancellation of a stakeholders meeting called at the instance of the presidency.
According to a statement from the Rivers State Government, the host of the botched forum, the presidency had fixed a meeting for Tuesday with the Governors and other leaders of the region to discuss burning national issues, including the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest.
The federal government delegation was supposed to include all the Ministers from the geopolitical zone.
The convocation was adjusted twice from 11am to 1pm before the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, put a call through to the Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, Ifeanyi Okowa cancelling the meeting.
Okowa said the people of the region have been embarrassed, disgraced and disrespected. He stated that the South-South geopolitical zone is a very important component part of the nation and the governors feel insulted because the traditional rulers who had gathered for the meeting, deserved to be revered.
“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.
And doubling down, he said, “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.”
“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.”
Governors Ben Ayade of Cross River, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, Douye Diri of Bayelsa, Godwin Obaseki of Edo and Nyesom Wike of Rivers were present as well as Rtd. Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, the National Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, among others.