Wednesday, September 23, 2020

FG contractors start indefinite hunger strike due to late payment

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… Since the Ministry of Finance alleges the insertion of fictitious names in its list of beneficiaries

By Luminous Jannamike – Abuja

At least 5,000 contractors, who executed validly awarded contracts in ministries, departments, and agencies of the Federal Government, began an indefinite hunger strike demanding payment for projects that they had already completed in 2008.

The strike came as the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning blamed the fictitious names discovered on its beneficiary list for the delay in resolving them.

Meanwhile, many of the contractors said they faced criminal charges in various courts for the funds they borrowed to implement the project from the federal government and that they were unable to return them.

The strikers, under the aegis of local Nigerian contractors, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order Finance Minister Hajiya Zainab Ahmed to pay them now or else they would remain in protest in the eyes of the world.

Briefing journalists during his demonstration at the Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja on Monday, the Publicity Secretary of the contractors association, Mr. Dandy Rowland, said: “The Minister of Finance through her media assistant He told us that President Buhari approved the release of N18bn for our payment.

“It also announced on July 8, 2020 that the Ministry would pay local contractors between 7 and 14 days from the date of the announcement.

“This empty and unfulfilled promise increased the pressure from our creditors after the expiration of the stipulated period.
“Nigerians should know that the fund spent on the repetitive verification exercise is almost equal to the amount that they owe us.

“Local contractors borrowed money from the banks with interest and executed these projects.” The Federal Government wasted no time to commission the projects that we execute with borrowed money as its achievements. But now, the government is taking decades to verify our payment.

“So the government must pay us now, because if it had been the other way around, if we had raised money from the government without executing the projects, the government has arrested and jailed us. This is corruption and it is unacceptable. “

Why we haven’t paid them – Perm Sec

But, the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties) of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Ahmed, assured the contractors that the government had money to pay them.

However, Ahmed said that the funds no longer reached the N18bn previously announced by the Ministry.

Then, he attributed the delay in payments to the measures implemented to ensure that the Ministry disbursed the available funds in a judicious manner.

The Permanent Secretary said that the government had discovered many fictitious names inserted into its beneficiary list for contractors by unknown criminal elements. Hence the multiple verification exercises by the Ministry.

Therefore, he urged the contractors to end their protest and give the Finance Ministry 21 days to resolve the issues and pay for them.

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