Indigenous contractors have barricaded the corporate headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, over an alleged failure to pay them.
The contractors, under the auspices of the NDDC Indigenous Contractors Association, converged on the premises of the commission six days ago.
They appealed to President Buhari to direct the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Senator Godswill Akpabio and the NDDC Managing Director, Pastor Effiong Akwa to pay the debts owed them.
They bore placards with inscriptions such as “NDDC pay us our money,’’ “NDDC, Akwa pay contractors please”, ‘’ NDDC Contractors are dying”, amongst others.
President of the association, Andrew Ijegbai, lamented that for over five years, the contractors had not been paid for the services they rendered to the commission, describing it as an act of wickedness.
Ijegbai said they used their money to execute the projects, adding that despite inaugurating them, NDDC had refused to pay them.
He said: “We are here because we have done jobs for NDDC for the past four years we have been waiting for our payment, but they are giving us all kinds of excuses.
“As it stands, we can no longer afford our children schools fees. We collected most of the money from financial institutions and we used our houses as collateral. The banks are now collecting our houses.
“We have pleaded; we have gone to Abuja to no avail. NDDC has not been like this. Before, once you earn your IPC you will be paid but we don’t know what is happening since the inception of this present board.
“They have seized everything; we don’t even know where we are going to and they are not talking to us. Our wives don’t even respect us again in the house.”
He, however, called on President Buhari to intervene and prevail on the NDDC to pay them.
Director of Board of Trustees, Prince Victor Fakar, said they would continue the protest until the commission pays them.
He said: “If these people really want to pay us, we are not supposed to be at this gate, protesting for the past six days now – men with wives and children at home.
“We will continue this protest. He (Akwa) feels he is everything. If he gives his words he should hold on to it. He promised to pay in December but we did not get anything.
“We are still managing. This is February and we are still expecting that a small list we gave to him to pay till now has not been attended to is sad.”
“Akwa said in Abuja, that he is not the one owing us. If a contractor signs an agreement with NDDC, that contract is binding on the next MD or board, they must pay you.”
The protesters were clad in black attires.
Head Corporate Affairs department, Ibitoye Abosede, declined comments. He switched off the phone when one of our correspondents tried to get his comments on the protest.
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