By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—The National Contractors Association of Nigeria (NCAN) has condemned what it termed the total neglect of indigenous contractors by government’s Ministries, Department and Agencies, MDAs.
In a press conference in Abuja yesterday, NCAN President, Mr Onuche Okoh said the non-payment of contractors by government for projects already executed has brought untold hardship on his colleagues, adding that in the past few years, some of them died while waiting payment.
“In the past seven years, 572 members died of heart failure and other related diseases nationwide. We borrowed money to execute these contracts but getting paid has become a huge challenge,” Okoh said, adding that in addition to a backlog of unpaid debts, consultants are now cornering jobs meant for them to foreign companies.
The association also expressed worry over the poor quality of materials used in the execution of projects, noting that “the standards are no longer what they used to be even though the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) is doing a good job.”
Asked how much the indigenous contractors are being owed, Okoh said the total debt stock owed to its members at the federal, state and local governments in the 774 local council areas amounted to N2.4 trillion in 2016 alone.
Although, Okoh lauded the intervention fund released by the current government in the early days of the administration; he called on the Bureau of Public Procurement to furnish the association with the list of contractors doing business with government in the interest of openness and transparency.
Corroborating the NCAN boss, President, Association of Police Contractors, Mr Ugboma Stephen urged the President Muhammadu government to quickly step in to restore sanity in the procurement process, noting that genuine contractors are struggling to survive due to sharp practices in high places.
“Government should step in because our members are dying. Some of them cannot even pay their house rents anymore.
“The Association of Police Contractors is being owed about N7 billion and although the former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase tried while he was in office, we don’t know what is going on now, yet they keep awarding contracts every day,” Ugbomah said.
The 11, 802-member association, according to Ugbomah said it is open to dialogue with government, stating that though the times are tough; it would not resort to violence to press home its demands.