From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Niger Delta Indigenous Contractors Association (NDICA) and Contractors Association of NDDC have called on International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the Niger Delta region to release all unpaid funds accruing to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) since its inception in 2000.
The indigenous contractors of NDDC made the call in a joint statement after their review meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on their visit to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Umana, in Abuja recently.
It was learnt that the commission is entitled to a statutory three per cent fund from IOCs’ annual profits for the operations of the agency in the region.
Earlier, Secretary General of the NDICA, Prince Sodinie, recalled that the group was founded in 2000 with the objective of proper coordination and monitoring of contracts and execution by indigenous contractors for quality delivery in accordance with the contract specification.
In a resolution signed by the acting National President, Dressman Darlington, the contractors called on the multinational oil companies to remit the funds to the federal government interventionist agency to enable it to carry out its statutory responsibilities in the region.
The groups expressed confidence in the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to address the lingering issues affecting the oil-rich region.
“We are calling on the IOCs to, as a matter of urgency, release monies due for the NDDC to enable the agency to live up to its responsibilities to her contractors.”
Meanwhile, the groups have alleged that the commission has been owing the contractors hundreds of billions of naira, spanning a period of over six years.
According to them, efforts to recover the debt under the immediate past minister proved abortive.
The groups during their recent visit to the current minister expressed their ordeal since the debts, which they said included the death of their members, loss of key assets to banks, financial institutions, inability to fund their children’s education and other issues.
They appealed to him (Umana) to look into their plight and save what is left of them and their families.
“We, both associations, had extensive discussions with the Honourable Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Umana Umana, during our visit to Abuja, on August 10, 2022,” the stated.
“The essence of our discussions bordered on the payment of contractors of the NDDC and we wish to state categorically that we are very pleased with the warm embrace to which we were received by the minister.
“The minister’s body language has shown that he is, indeed, a statesman that has the interest of the Niger Delta region and the Niger Delta people at heart.
“It is worthy of note that he showed empathy in the unfortunate situation of the contractors which has led to the death of so many of them and has promised to find a lasting solution to the issues presented before him.
“Based on the foregoing, we wish to call on all contractors, consultants, service providers and pressure groups of the commission to be patient with the administration of Obong Umana Umana.
“We express high optimism in the ability of the minister to return Niger Delta back on the part development and progress.”
Also, the patron of the group and former senator in Bayelsa State, John Brambaifa, has appealed to the aggrieved contractors, consultants and other groups with the agency over the delayed contract payments, to sheathe their swords and give the new minister time to settle all lingering issues amicably.