Okwe Obi, Abuja
Contractors under the aegis of Concerned Unpaid 2018 Contractors have staged a protest at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development over unpaid liabilities by the ministry valued at N17 billion.
They blocked the main entrance, carried placards with various inscriptions like: ‘PMB sack Sabo Nanono’; ‘Agric Ministry pay us now’; ‘PMB, our legacy projects helped your election victory.’
The Coordinator, Chidi Kanu and Onwuora Cyril, addressing reporters, claimed that the ministry had refused to pay them because they refused to give out 10 to 15 percentage to key officers of the ministry.
He also alleged that the minister, Sabo Nanono and the Permanent Secretary, Abdulkadir Mu’azu, have connived to divert the money earmarked for them to pay illegal contractors who executed projects without due process.
According to him: ‘The Permanent Secretary decided to institute a racket of his own in a bid to make the most of a seemingly bad situation since he was going to retire soon. The racketeers were, therefore, to collect between 10% and 15% from willing contractors who are desirous of getting their payments.’
Meanwhile, the Director of Information, Theodore Ogaziechi, had earlier issued a statement, appealing to the contractors to exercise patience.
Ogaziechi said: ‘On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, I would like to state that the Ministry is not unmindful of the outstanding liabilities owed to contractors and to also affirm that the Honourable Ministers, the Permanent Secretary and the management team share in the agony of the contractors which has informed their agitations.
‘The Ministers and Permanent Secretary inherited these liabilities and is in the process of compiling and verifying all outstanding contract liabilities.
‘While this process is on-going, the Ministry is appealing for the patience, understanding and cooperation of the contractors to enable her complete this process and forward the outcome to Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning for further action.’