Presidency Replies S’South Govs, Says Emergency Security Meeting Stalled Presidential Presence at Zonal Parley

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By Omololu Ogunmade

The presidency explained Wednesday that the planned federal government delegation’s meeting with South-south governors and leaders was stalled by security council meeting which held in the State House on Tuesday.

South-south Governors’ Forum, chaired by Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, which was angered by non-appearance of the presidency which called the meeting, had demanded an unreserved apology from the latter for allegedly treating them with contempt.

But in its defence Wednesday, the presidency, in a statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said the presidential team to be led by Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, was already prepared to leave for the meeting when they were instructed to suspend the move and attend the national security council meeting.

Shehu said information conveying presidency’s regret for inconveniences caused by the development had already been transmitted to the hosts of the meeting.

According to him, the team’s absence was caused by the gravity of security situation in the country as well as events which accompanied #EndSARS’ protests.

Submitting that President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to hearing from leaders of various regions of the country, including the South-south, Shehu who reiterated that inconveniences caused by the development were regretted, added that a new date for the meeting would be communicated to them.

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, 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.”