By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- OVER 50 enraged contractors stormed headquarters of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Wednesday, to demand payment of their money owed them since 2018 after executing contracts running into millions of Naira.
The aggrieved contractors who penetrated and blocked the main entrance to the Minister’s office despite the presence of security personnel chanted different words including ‘The Minister must go! The Permanent Secretary must go! Pay us our money!’
They alleged that the Ministry has failed to pay them their money after completing various projects since 2018.
According to them they took loans from different banks to execute the contracts and they are being troubled by the banks to repay the loans, and also added that some of their fellow contractors who execute the contracts have died due to thinking and other complications as they were not paid the monies owed them by the Ministry.
In a reaction, according to one of the protesting contractors, Ms Ada Nwahiri, who claimed that N23 million was borrowed from a bank to execute two borehole projects in Akwa Ibom State and she had already obtained certification from the Ministry, but nothing has been paid to her despite promises made by the Ministry.
According to Nwahiri she has sleepless nights and worries because the bank is on her back for payment of the loan.
“I executed two borehole projects for the Ministry in Akwa Ibom since 2018. My own money they are owing me is about N23 million. Since the new Permanent Secretary came, he has been promising to pay us for the past seven months but has not fulfilled his promise.
“I borrowed money from the bank to execute the contract, and I have pulled up bills to pay, but the Ministry has refused to pay us”, she alleged.
One of the aggrieved contractors, simply called Comrade Lucky also alleged that the Ministry did selective payments leaving some of them out, which they complained and were promised to be paid, but nothing was done to that effect.
He said: “We are here to take our destiny in our own hands because since 2018 we were given the contracts we bidded for, which we also executed.
“We have been coming here for payment with the certificate of completion issued to us by the same Ministry.
“The Ministry based on whatever consideration has done selective payment leaving some of us out. We have met with both the Minister and the Permanent Secretary, and nothing has been done. At a point, the Permanent Secretary promised to pay us, but later refused to pay.”
He further alleged that “I have also heard that some of the Ministry officials have been demanding for per cent from some of our colleagues, but as for me, nobody has asked me.”