By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Presidency on Wednesday said 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 and not out of disrespect.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government delegation through the Office of Chief of Staff to the President had scheduled to meet with the governors and stakeholders of the South-South geopolitical zones on the ongoing dialogue with leaders of various geopolitical zones at the wake of the nationwide protests by youth tagged, #EndSARS Protests.
But the government delegation could not attend despite the fact that the leaders, including royal fathers all assembled in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital for the meeting.
Irked by the absence of the Federal Government delegation, the governors and stakeholders felt it was a slight on their zone for government not to attend a meeting it organized by itself and demanded an apology.
In reaction to the demand for apology, the Presidency through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu explained that the emergency security meeting summoned by President Muhammadu Buhari over the worsening security situation in some parts of the country was responsible for the absence of government delegation.
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.
READ ALSO: Fuel: FG, Labour have failed Nigerians
“The delegation to the meeting, under the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor 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 Maigari 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.”