▪︎ Zamfara gold, Niger Delta oil queried for anger
Governors from the South South geopolitical zone are angry, very angry; and have demanded a public apology from the Presidency for cancelling a stakeholders meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday.
The anger, a manifestation of bristling disquiet in the Niger Delta over the federal government’s decision to buy gold, a mineral resource got in Zamfara from the state government, while oil is mined in the Delta region by the government and proceeds paid into the Federation Account and shared by all the states.
And when the presidency called for a stakeholders meeting in Port Harcourt to deal with the anger across the country after the youth-inspired #EndSARS protest, the Governors of the South South led by its Chairman and Governor of Delta, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, came; traditional rulers, religious leaders, opinion leaders, youths and women from the zone also came, but presidency officials were nowhere to be found.
After five hours, anger took over. Some stakeholders berated the presidency for what they termed as an insult and disrespect, according to Ms Ankio Briggs, to the zone that feeds other zones.
Okowa pleaded for calm in the face of the embarrassment caused by the cancellation of the meeting.
“We understand the anger in you, and on our own part as governors, we are also angry because the South-South zone is a very important part of this nation.
“There is no doubt that we the governors also feel insulted and we feel very sad and touched at what has happened.
“We felt it was necessary to consult with you as critical stakeholders because if we had acted on the information without consulting you, that would have added to the insult already meted to us.
“Together we call for a public apology because the meeting was not called at our instance; it was called at the instance of the Presidency.
“Some of us didn’t sleep trying to put things in order to make this meeting a reality.
“We will convey this message to the Chief of Staff to the President that as a region we deserve public apology, particularly to our traditional rulers and opinion leaders and also to the Governors that you voted into office.
“This is the least we expect before this meeting can be reconvened”.
After the governors, traditional rulers, and stakeholders departed the venue after hours of waiting for the presidency delegation that did not show up, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, himself a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State showed up full of apologies.
He said that he would liaise with host Governor Nyesom Wike for the meeting to hold next Tuesday.
It was gathered that the meeting of the National Security Council in Abuja was responsible for the unceremonious cancellation of the Port Harcourt meeting.