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Published November 18, 2020
Dennis Naku , Port Harcourt
GOVERNORS and leaders of the South -South region have demanded an unreserved apology from the Presidency for abruptly aborting a crucial stakeholders ’ meeting scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on Tuesday .
The Presidency had fixed a meeting for Tuesday with the governors and other leaders of the region to discuss burning national issues affecting the region and the aftermath of the EndSARS protests .
A statement issued by the Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Media, Kelvin Ebiri , indicated that the Federal Government delegation was supposed to include the ministers from the geopolitical zone and other persons.
Minister of Transportation , Rotimi Amaechi ; Minister of State for Petroleum , Timipre Sylva , and Minister of State for Labour and Employment , Festus Keyamo , were all conspicuously absent at the meeting , while the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio walked in when the meeting had ended .
Addressing South – South leaders at the Banquet Hall of the Government House , Port Harcourt , the Delta State Governor , Ifeanyi Okowa , who presided over the session , decried the botched meeting , which was called at the instance of the Presidency .
Okowa , who is also the Chairman of the South -South Governors Forum, said he later got a call from the Chief of Staff to the President on Tuesday afternoon , announcing the eventual cancellation of the meeting .
The Delta State governor said he felt really disappointed that the region could be treated with such disdain and maintained that the people of the region were embarrassed , disgraced and disrespected .
“ As governors , we feel very touched and very sad about what has happened . 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 .”
Speaking , former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People , Ledum Mitee , said he was concerned about the abrupt cancellation of the meeting , not only as an insult but an affront on the people of the South – South zone .
Similarly , a member of the 2014 national political reform conference and Niger Delta activist , Ms. Ann -Kio Briggs , said the Federal Government on Tuesday demonstrated the value it actually placed on the South -South geopolitical zone .
Those present at the meeting included governors Ben Ayade ( Cross River State ) , Udom Emmanuel ( Akw Ibom); Governor Nyesom Wike ( Rivers ) , Douye Diri ( Bayelsa) and Godwin Obaseki ( Edo State ) .