The President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Peter Igbifa, has called on the governors and other leaders of the South-south to take strong actions against President Muhammadu Buhari over the botched meeting between Nigeria’s presidency and the leaders of the region.
He said the governors of the region should reject the statutory 13 per cent derivation fund and the monthly revenue allocation from the federation account, to express their grievances against Mr Buhari and the federal government.
The presidency apologised a day after the botched meeting.
A statement from a presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said a delegation from the presidency could not proceed to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, because of an emergency security meeting that was called by President Buhari.
Mr Igbifa addressed the region’s leaders in Port Harcourt, on Tuesday, after they waited for hours in vain for a delegation from the presidency. A video of him addressing the region’s leaders was posted on YouTube.
Among those in attendance were Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Governor Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom State; Governor Ben Ayade, Cross River State; Governor Godwin Obaseki, Edo State; and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, who is the chairman of the South-south governors.
The meeting, called by the presidency, was meant to discuss some issues affecting the nation.
Mr Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, was expected to lead the delegation.
Mr Igbifa, who spoke in pidgin English, raised his voice throughout his address to the governors and other leaders of the region.
“Dem dey dash us money wey dem dey call 13 per cent derivation, una dey take. E don reach after this meeting, make una reject all those offers, even allocation self, make una no collect,” the Ijaw youth leader said.
“We need to inconvenience ourselves to get results. Make una no collect anything from them again.”
Mr Igbifa accused the governors of being weak and advised them to stop taking President Buhari’s call, “for, at least, within the next 24 hours”.
He lashed out on federal appointees from the region who were not present in Port Harcourt for the botched meeting and said the appointees were only after their 2023 political interests than the collective interest of the region.
“Everything about Niger Delta na joke. We cannot be taken for granted all the time. See East-West Road, dey rotten dey go, people dey die every day,” Mr Igbifa said.
Mr Igbifa said a message should be sent to Mr Buhari and his chief of staff, Mr Gambari, that the Niger Delta youth would “rumble” Nigeria’s economy “in just a few days”.
“Enough of the insult,” he added.
The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) said the cancellation of the Port Harcourt meeting was “one insult too many” for the people of the South-south.
“They won’t treat a district head in their areas the way and manner they treated our traditional rulers, elders and our governors,” said Idongesit Nkanga, a retired air commodore, who is the leader of the forum.
Mr Buhari’s aide on Niger Delta Affairs, Ita Enang, told PREMIUM TIMES he was at the airport in Port Harcourt, waiting for the arrival of other members of the delegation when he learnt that the meeting had been “rescheduled”.
Mr Enang, a former senator from Akwa Ibom State, said a new date for the meeting would be communicated to the South South leaders.
He said the apology from the presidency shows “great respect” for the leaders and the people of the South-south.
“All Nigerians matter and we respect every person,” he added.