Two prominent political office holders in Imo State, on Tuesday would have either been in the hospital receiving medical treatment or in the morgue but for the intervention of security details attached to them.
The affected officials, the Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Local Government, Chief Gerry Okolie and the lawmaker representing Orsu State Constituency, Bro Stan Dara would be thanking their security aides from preventing aggrieved contractors from lynching them.
Trouble started when contractors handling road projects in the state were asked to report to the Ministry for collection of their projects. At the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs, it was discovered that all the listed contractors and those who have recorded appreciable mark in their job specification were not captured. The discovery that they would not be paid by the state government sparked off negative reactions.
Attempts by Commissioner Okolie and the state lawmaker to douse the rising tension and anxiety were returned with skirmish as the embattled contractors attempted to attack them. While Okolie and Dara posited themselves to address the rampaging contractors, the contractors surged forward to lynch them as they surrounded the arena trying to grip the duo. The timely intervention of security aides attached to them saved the situation.
Neither Okolie nor Dara was given the opportunity to utter a word before the ill-tempered contractors surged at them. In the midst of confusion, the security aides cocked their rifles and were ready to gun down any of the aggrieved contractors who wanted to turn the secretariat to a blood bath field. The decision of the security aides to rescue their bosses and quickly whisk Okolie and Dara away from the reach of the maddening crowd saved the day.
Frustrated by the State Government’s indecision over payment of road contract fees, the contractors embarked on street march and proceeded to Ahiajoku Centre in New Owerri to express their grievances to Governor Rochas Okorocha who was at a public function at the venue.
While chanting solidarity songs and offensive tunes against the government “like Rochas pay us our money”, we no go gree o, we no go gree, until our money is paid, the contractors made their way to the Ahiajoku centre but were stopped midway by stern-looking soldiers drafted to check any incursion. The rampaging contractors were kept at bay till the Governor finished the official function at Ahiajoku Centre and passed the protesting contractors without stopping to address their complaints.
Speaking to Imo Trumpeta, some of the contractors complained that the inability of the State Government to pay for jobs executed has landed them in abject poverty. While complaining that banks are not only chasing them to pay for borrowed money used for the execution of the contract given during the era of the Transition Committee Chairmen, most have died in the process while others are suffering from hypertension.
Meanwhile, trouble arising from the problems of contractors has set the stage for high powered meeting between the executive and legislature and another meeting between the Governor and the contractors to resolve the issue. As at press time the meetings were on at Government House, Owerri.
It was learnt that the former TC Chairmen messed up the road contract projects as due process and improper documentation characterized the award of contracts and execution. At the end of the assessment of the Imo State House of Assembly Committee on Joint LG and State project headed by Bro Stan Dara, it was discovered that most of those captured for payment did not do satisfactory jobs against those who did appreciable work but are not included for contract fee. It was however gathered that only those related to high profile persons in the present administration were considered and included for payment voucher.
Another factor believed to be a clog in the wheel of the road project payment is the seeming disagreement between the Deputy Governor and Works Commissioner, Sir Jude Agbaso and the House of Assembly pioneered by Speaker Ben Uwajimogu.
The meeting at Government House intends to resolve the bickering for contractors to get their money.
Meanwhile, the contractors stormed the premises of the Imo State House of Assembly complex where they went to air their displeasure over the unfair treatment meted to them by the State Government. They lamented in strong terms over non payment of fees by the Okorocha Administration.
The protest was so overwhelming, as the contractors in their large numbers sought for Hon. Stan Dara, the Chairman, Joint Committee on Local Government and State Projects.
He was said to have taken to his heels when the contractors came after him. One of the contractors who pleaded anonymity said they have shortchanged by the Committee, nay the State Government. -Trumpeta