President Muhammdu Buhari’s failure to show up at a meeting with South-South political leaders was not out of slight, the prwsidency says.
Ahead of the meeting, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had openly questioned why Zamfara State in northern Nigeria was being allowed to sell its gold while the South-South is forced to share its oil wealth with the rest of the country.
Observers speculated that Buhari snubbed the meeting because of that open criticism.
But Buhari’s media aide Garba Shehu offered the following explanation.
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.
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
November 18, 2020