The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has condemned the failure of the federal government delegation to attend the meeting scheduled with key stakeholders of the South-South geopolitical zone in Porth-Harcourt, Rivers State describing it as a clear demonstration of contempt and disdain for the zone.
PANDEF in a statement signed by its National Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga demanded a public apology as the reason given by the presidency was ‘untenable and unacceptable.’
Nkanga noted that President Muhammadu Buhari wouldn’t treat a district head in his area the way he treated the traditional rulers, governors and elders who attended the meeting.
He added that it’s either the presidency apologized publicly or forgot any further thought of rescheduling the meeting.
“How else can anyone explain what happened if not a disrespect, disregard, and contempt to the entire South-south zone. They went to the north, south-west and south-east, met with the people, no emergency security meeting was summoned to stop them from attending those meetings. But when it was for the south-south zone, an emergency arose to scuttle the meeting. We have cross-checked and are yet to ascertain that there was any national security threatening situation to warrant their staying away,” he said.
“What they have told us, in essence, is that we do not matter but the truth is that We Do Matter. It is awful and preposterous for anyone to delude that we do not matter. That they can treat the region that has sustained the country for decades, in this way and manner, only speaks to the kind “upside-down thinking that kept the country in this way.”
He said PANDEF was not surprised at the occurrences due to persistent inconsistencies, discrimination and injustice against the Niger Delta region by this administration for the past five years.
“That is why Zamfara gold is for Zamfara people while Niger Delta crude oil is for the whole of Nigeria. And why they have not added an inch of construction to the critical East-West road in the over five years of the administration.
“Let it be known to them that whether they desire to meet with us or not, the people of the South-South Geopolitical Zone have taken a firm stand on the issue of restructuring of Nigeria. We are the biggest victims of Nigeria’s flawed federal system. All we want is true federalism!”
It will be recalled that a delegation of the Federal Government had scheduled a meeting with stakeholders from the region on Tuesday in Rivers State to discuss critical national issues but failed to show up after traditional rulers, governors, Clergymen, elders, leaders, women and youths had gathered at the venue.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu in a statement on Wednesday explained that President Muhammadu Buhari summoned an emergency security meeting which prevented the top government officials from making it to the meeting.