By Our Correspondent
The Association of Contractors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Tuesday grounded activities at the headquarters of the NDDC in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, over the non-payment of monies owed them for contracts executed in the oil-rich region.
The protesting contractors blocked the main gate of the NDDC building early enough to prevent staff from gaining entrance.
They have also threatened to unravel “distilling fraud” going on in the Commission.
The group had last week Thursday staged another protest at the premises of Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Abuja, where they made a demand for their payments, which according to them, is in excess of N2trn.
President of the Association, Sylvester Tonye, speaking at the protest, emphasized that the Federal Government must urgently inaugurate a substantive Board for the NDDC to ensure smooth operations and contractors must be paid.
He reminded that many of their members, especially those who took loan facilities to facilitate the projects, had developed hypertension, while some others have died of heart attack.
“We are not interested in the politics they play, all we want is that they bring a board. You have an Interim Administrator who does not even come to the office in Port Harcourt. For over two months you will never see him. He is always in Abuja. We want a board that will sit and be responsible to the people, not a Sole Administrator.
Chairman of the Contractors, Joe Adia, speaking on abandoned projects in the Niger Delta, said: “there is no way you will give a project to a man, he will go to source for funds on his own, then when he gets to a mile stone, you refuse to pay him for about five years, how does he go back to that project?
“Automatically the project is abandoned because you refused to play your part as the Commission. The Federal Government does not give enough money to the Commission, but the little that comes in is embezzled.”
He further lamented that the Interim Management that exists in the NDDC is not adding value to the Commission, “rather it is returning NDDC far beyond where we are coming from. It is killing NDDC. We are saying bring the board so that there will be equity and even distribution of representation in the region.”
“We are the victims. We are the ones that have been owed for over 10 years “We have nine states in the NDDC, but one man is heading NDDC. It’s an abnormal activity. We have given them enough time to bring the board, but since they have refused, we have come out to say the must bring the board. It’s not a matter of negotiation, they must bring the board as early as yesterday,” he added.