Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State denied yesterday that he fixed a meeting with traditional rulers in the state in Awka to stop them from meeting with the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi at the palace of the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe.
Although there was what the state government termed emergency meeting with the royal fathers to tackle the menace of cattle herders and the destruction of crops in Anambra North senatorial zone of the state, government said it was not meant to stop them from going to Onitsha to meet with Atiku.
At press time, however, the Awka meeting had ended and most of the traditional rulers were seen at the palace of the Obi of Onitsha waiting for the arrival of the PDP presidential candidate.
Chief of staff to the governor, Mr. Primus Odili, who represented Obiano at the meeting with the monarchs and presidents general of various communities in Awka said it was not true that they were invited to Awka to sabotage an earlier arrangement for them to see Atiku.
The Awka meeting, it was gathered, was scheduled for 10 am, while the meeting with the PDP candidate and his running mate was scheduled for 1 pm in Onitsha. However, when the Awka meeting could not start at the scheduled time, some of the royal fathers became worried and one of them had to complain to the chief of staff about the undue delay.
Odili said: “The governor called the meeting, without any inkling that the royal fathers were billed to meet with Atiku. It has just come to my notice that there is fear that we brought you here to cage you and stop you from meeting some people who were supposed to meet with you in Onitsha.
“I want to use this opportunity to say that it is not true. Governor Obiano did not know that you had something else to do today. He asked me to call this emergency meeting for us to tackle problems we have in some parts of Anambra between herdsmen and farmers.
“One traditional ruler just came to me to express the fear, but I want to allay your fears. It is not true. The governor did not call you here so that you will stay away from Onitsha. The governor did not abandon you too, if you know him well, you will know he is not one to disrespect people.
“Let me tell you that as we speak, the governor is in Abuja for an emergency meeting of governors. He left very early this morning and called me too when he arrived Abuja. He is not in Anambra and that is the truth.
“I think the leadership of the traditional rulers would have passed a message to the governor if he knew that there was another meeting with other people in Onitsha. I tell you in all sincerity that the governor is not aware of your other meeting and he did not bring you here to cage you.”