The Presidency has cleared the air on the absence of representatives of the Federal Government at a scheduled meeting with South South stakeholders on Tuesday.
It said the team, led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, had to change its plans at the last minute, owing to an emergency National Security Council meeting, convened by President Muhammadu Buhari.
A statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, however, said the team communicated to the South South stakeholders its inability to attend and reasons behind it when it was clear that the representatives could not make the meeting.
The Presidency stressed that the development was not out of disrespect, adding, “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.”
A statement by Shehu further added, “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.”
According to Shehu, 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.”