From Iyke Ndumele, Abuja
Some Imo State Registered Contractors have protested in Abuja over the non-payment of over ₦4.2billion owed them by the State Government.
The aggrieved contractors protested in front of Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in Abuja.
According to them, they were awarded contracts by Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha’s administration to execute a number of projects ranging from construction of new schools (primary schools and junior secondary schools), renovation of schools, before Sen. Hope Uzodimma was enthroned as Governor.
They however added that Uzodimma on assumption, pleaded with them to continue their projects, which made most of them to borrow money from their banks to complete the projects.
The Contractors’ placards read: “Save our property from creditors”, “Banks and financial institutions have taken over our property”, “Contractors are dying of starvation”, “Interest on loans are piling”.
Chairman of the Contractors, Hon. Williams Ejiakor, while addressing newsmen, noted that they protested in front of UBEC, because the commission is a major stakeholder and having supervised and released its own counterpart funds, the commission should prevail on the Imo State Government to pay them.
“We renovated schools, built new schools—primary schools and junior secondary schools. We have 261 renovations and new buildings, as well as 23 boreholes and desks. The contract was awarded by the immediate past governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha. We did the jobs on January 14, 2020. When the new governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma came on board, he made a nationwide broadcast on January 16, 2020, and urged us to go back to site and finish our jobs. We obliged him, only to be told in March when some of us had finished our jobs that he was not going to pay.
“The annoying part of it is that the fund for this job is domiciled in Owerri branch of Zenith Bank. Our members are suffering. We can no longer pay our bills. We lost one of our members three week ago, because she could not afford to pay her medical bills.
“So, we have come to Abuja to seek help from UBEC as a senior partner in this matter to prevail on Imo State Government to pay us our money, because a worker deserves his wages. Those jobs followed all known due processes.
“The management of UBEC has advised the state government to pay us. Why he has refused to pay is what I don’t know. Most of us borrowed money from banks, and the interest is piling every day.
We lost a woman three weeks ago. We are appealing to Senator Hope Uzodinma to temper justice with mercy and pay us our money. We did not commit any crime by working for the state. Government is a continuum,” Ejiakor said.