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Agric ministry admits owing contractors amid protests

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The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has admitted owing contractors, urging them to exercise patience, as their money would be paid as soon as possible. 

Aggrieved contractors had been protesting at the ministry’s office demanding the payment of their money as well as the probe and sack of the minister and permanent secretary. 

The contractors carried placards with inscriptions such as “The Permanent Secretary cannot retire with our money”, “Enough is Enough”, “ Ministry of Agriculture pay us our money” and “No payment no new contract”, “We are dying of hunger, pay us our money”. 

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One of the contractors, Ms Ada Nwahiri, told The Guardian that she executed two borehole projects in Akwa Ibom State for the ministry, and had been duly certified by engineers of the ministry.

Nwahiri noted that the bank where she obtained loan to execute the contract had been on her neck for repayment. 

“I executed two boreholes for the ministry in Akwa Ibom since 2018. The money they owe me is about N23 million. Since the new permanent secretary came, he has been promising to pay us for the past seven months, but has not fulfilled his promise. 

“I borrowed money from the bank to execute the contract, and I have pulled up bills to pay, but the ministry has refused to pay us,” she said.

But the Director of Information in the ministry, Theodore Ogaziechi, stated: “On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, I would like to state that the ministry is not unmindful of the outstanding liabilities to contractors and to also affirm that the ministers, the permanent secretary and the management team share in the agony of the contractors which has informed their agitations.

“The ministers and permanent secretary inherited these liabilities and are in the process of compiling and verifying all outstanding contract liabilities.

“While this process is on-going, the ministry is appealing for the patience, understanding and cooperation of the contractors to enable her complete this process and forward the outcome to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning for further action.”

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