By Sadiq Umar – The Senate has refuted media report that it planned to purchase some 2016 CRV model vehicles for its President, Bukola Saraki and other 108 senators, saying the vehicles are for committee assignments.
An online media at the weekend had reported that the Nigerian Senate was on the verge of illegally buying various brands of exotic vehicles for use by its President, Bukola Saraki, and the 108 other senators.
“The cars will cost taxpayers an estimated N4.7billion that could be spent on vaccinating newborns and save them from dying or on providing electricity for remote communities so kids stop doing school assignments using paraffin lamps,” the online media reported.
But the senate in a swift reaction could not deny the report but instead said the vehicles that are to be purchased are meant for the execution of committee assignments.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Senate said the automobiles are part of the necessities which the institution usually provide to committees to enable them function without depending on external bodies for effective performance of oversight functions.
“The vehicles are not meant for individual Senators. They are purchased for the use of the committees.
“For those who may want to find out what happened to the ones bought in the past, we cannot expect that after four years, the vehicles will still be in the condition to effectively serve the present committees. The best practice in government institutions and even private organizations is for official vehicles allocated to top officials after four years of use to be sold at the depreciated value”, Abdullahi stated.
“We have been very frugal, responsive and responsible in our spending. We have also cut down on several expenses. However, there are certain expenses and purchases that are normal in government and any organisation generally. The legislature is not an exception.
“With respect to the official vehicles of the Senate President, it should be noted that majority of the vehicles in his convoy are his personal vehicles while some of the vehicles that he inherited, including his official vehicles and the back up car, are so old that they are already developing faults and not fit for long journey.
“We can recall that on several occasions, his official car broke down. Three instances will suffice here. I remember on a visit to Nasarawa state for a wedding of the daughter of a colleague. Other occasions were at the National Mosque three weeks ago and at the Abuja airport.
“The implication is that the vehicles in his official convoy are so old that they are already causing embarrassment for the Senate. The media should know that a man of his antecedent will not at this point be excited with purchase of new cars. His official cars are really long overdue for replacement.
“The media should avoid deliberately portraying the legislature as irresponsible and inciting the people against it. We seek the understanding of the media to explain issues and situations to the people. Both the media and the legislature have different roles to play in sustaining our democracy and none should be seen to be undermining the other”, Aliyu stated.
The online report had alleged that the senate is planning to buy various exotic cars — 120 Toyota Land Cruiser, 1 Mercedes Benz S550, 4 Toyota Prado, 4 Toyota Hilux SS and 1 Toyota Hiace Bus for the senate president, Bukola Saraki and other senators. The cost of the vehicles, according to the report, is put at about N4.7 billion.