By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Abuja
Indigenous contractors under the aegis of National Contractors Association of Nigeria (NCAN) yesterday disclosed that they are being owed over N2.4 trillion by the federal government, states and local government councils across the nation.
They further lamented that over 572 of their members have died as a result of hypertension and stress caused by the huge debt they are being owed by the government.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, chairman of NCAN, Mr. Onuche Okoh, lamented that despite a circular from the federal ministry of finance in 2016 to all ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) directing for the payment of outstanding debts to be made to the local contractors, the directive has been ignored by the MDAs.
“The circular for payment of all contractors from the Federal Ministry of Finance is being abused by the same government”, he stated.
Okoh who noted that NCAN has over 11, 802 members nationwide, regretted that apart from the huge debts they are being owed, the government no longer award contracts direct to local contractors.
According to him, while permanent secretaries, directors and other civil servants in MDAs award contracts to their private companies through Consultants without going through due process, the registered contractor are compelled to buy the contract papers through third parties.
“Consultants have taken over the job of contractors and contractors are now buying contracts through third parties”, he stated.
To checkmate the award of contracts by government officials to themselves through proxies, the NCAN chairman said they approached the Bureau of Public Procurement to publish list of all registered contractors in the country but the bureau is not forthcoming with the list.
He added that apart from awarding contracts to their private companies through proxies, MDAs patronise foreign contractors because of kickbacks they collect from them.
“They are awarding contracts to them all because of percentages they collect from the foreign companies. There are no more contracts for local contractors and no payment for contracts executed by our members. We are begging the government to give us listening ear”, he added.
NCAN also pleaded with the federal government not to limit payment arrears of contracts executed in 2016 as they borrowed money from different sources to execute the pre-2016 contracts.
Also speaking, the president of Association of Police Contractors, Comrade Ugboma Stephen, said the Nigeria Police alone owe its contractors over N7.7 billion, even as he pointed out that it was only the former Inspector General of Police that paid small fraction of the debts owed contractors.
Ugbomah lamented that one of their members who was being owed N14million died because of a paltry N500,000 he could not raise to take care of himself.