Furore Over N3.6Bn Reps’ Exotic Car Purchase | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Furore Over N3.6Bn Reps’ Exotic Car Purchase

Dogara
Posted: Nov 19, 2016 at 6:49 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

OUR CORRESPONDENTS — In the midst of biting recession, the House of Representatives took delivery of exotic cars worth N3.6billion for its members.

The lawmakers justified this on the ground that they were made by a Nigerian firm. This is amidst negative reactions from Nigerians.

In spite of the dwindling economy caused by the fluctuating price of oil in the international market and the fall of the Naira, the lawmakers do not seem to bother as they are to get their cars. The 360 Peugeot cars have been added to the already fleet of cars at their disposal. The vehicles said to have been personalised and tagged,‘Utility/Committee’ are said to be for oversight duties.

According to a senior official, “The agreed price for each unit is N10million, which will leave the total cost for the 360 units at N3.6billion.”

The payment of the N3.6billion would be spread across two years because the capital vote of the House in the 2016 budget was not enough to cover the cost of the cars.

Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, who spoke on the issue, said: “Peugeot is a local vehicle assembly plant. By patronising them, it is the decision of the House that we will be generating employment and promoting made in Nigeria products. That is the difference.

“Each unit is N10million, which is, again, far cheaper compared to when we have to import the cars. We have resolved to buy the cars and in weeks from today, they will begin to arrive.”

On why the lawmakers were getting the cars in spite of the controversy surrounding the ones bought by the Senate, he said there was never a right time to purchase them. The question is whether members need these cars to perform their duties. Yes.

“There is never going to be a time when it will be right to buy the cars. We will buy and get over the issue once and for all.” Before the House of Representatives’ purchase, the Senate also procured cars for its members, although it denied that it bought 108 cars. Senator Abdullahi Gobir, Chairman of the Committee on Senate Services, said they only bought 36 cars.

The choice of Peugeot cars is not unconnected to the President Buhari’s inspection of the company’s made-in-Nigeria cars which was unveiled in 2015. The president inspected the vehicles following the visit of the executive vice president, Middle East and Africa, Peugeot Citreon, Mr. Jean-Christophe Quemard to the villa. Buhari reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the federal government’s privatisation and commercialisation policy. He stressed, however, that greater consideration would be given to the technical and managerial competence of prospective buyers of government-owned companies.

The question is: Was it wrong for the lawmakers to have purchased the exotic cars considering the poor state of the economy, especially when majority of Nigerians are languishing in poverty?

But, according to feelers, the Peugeot 508 Sedan cars, which were initially valued at N10 million each are now to cost the House additional N3million each bringing the added cost to N1.080 billion to successfully secure N360 Peugeot 508 ordered from Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited (PAN) in April.

With the increase, the initially agreed amount of N3.6billion would now rise up to N4.68billion to bring in the 306 cars out of which 50 have been delivered and distributed to members.

It is, however, not clear whether the recession and paucity of funds would force the leadership to procure just 360 cars as a departure from the usual tradition of buying 400 vehicles out of which principal and presiding officers have more than one car each.

The initial arrangement between the leadership of the House and PAN was for the House to take delivery of the 360 vehicles beginning from July, but didn’t materialise due to technical hitches experienced by the suppliers.

Confirming the development, the House spokesman Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa), said only 28 the 50 which form the first batch had been brought and distributed to female lawmakers and other members who are neither Chairmen nor Deputy Chairmen of any committee, while the remaining 22 would be delivered soon.

 

It Shows Total Disloyalty To Nigerians –Politician

Hon Oke Idawene, Chairman, South South Forum of Registered Political Parties maintained that the issue of exotic cars is a total disloyalty to Nigerians during this recession and a show of wickedness on the part of the lawmakers, who he accused of not having the interest of the people at heart.

He stated that the Social Democratic Party (SDP), of which he is the Chairman in Delta State, condemned the action it its totality. He said: “Even if they had made the request before the recession, with the hardship and abject poverty Nigerians are experiencing, they should have changed to another brand of cars, cheaper cars, or reschedule the purchase.”

 

Nigerian Lawmakers Are Insensitive –Ezeagwu, LP Chief

Chief Tony Ezeagwu is the Chairman, Labour Party (LP), Delta State chapter, maintained that as far as he is concerned, members of the House of Representatives are insensitive. According him, what they did was wrong considering that the masses are dying of hunger and starvation, especially with what is happening in the North Eastern part of Nigeria.

He warned the House to rescind the decision on the cars immediately, stressing that “the idea is total madness and arrant nonsense. The attitude stems from the fact that they were not elected by the people, not representing the people, but themselves since most of the time they were not elected, but find themselves on the position through any means, especially rigging.”

Ezeagwu wondered why the lawmakers could not have bought the cars with their earned money and had to rely on free money which are from the tax payers.

But Chief Ezeagwu’s views seem to contradict those of another top politician, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees (BoT). he asked; “Why should the members of the House of Representatives not have decent strong cars?  Do you want them to operate with Keke NAPEP (tricycles) because of the recession?”

 

In Nigeria, everything goes – Second Republic politician

Chief Josiah Onyemaobi Nduka, a Second Republic politician and ex-Council chairman stated that the attitude of the House of Representatives members is not surprising. Hear him: “This is Nigeria for you where anything goes. Will you be surprised to hear tomorrow that they have purchased jets for themselves?”

Chief Nduka, former chieftain of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD), added: “We are in a country where the man in the street, who voted for somebody into office to alleviate his woes cannot afford a cup of garri a day. Yet his so-called representative lives in incredible affluence, and goes on expensive cars .

“The late Thomas Sankara of Burkino Faso used Renault car as his official car when he was the president of his country. He never even sat at the car owner’s seat till his brutal assassination. Can this happen in Nigeria? Our leaders are really selfish self-centered and insensitive. Do you know what a billion naira is, not to talk of N3.6 billion?”

 

Reps Alien To Goings-on In Nigeria – Educationist

 

Dr. (Mrs.) Evelyn Ngozi Ibedinjo, an Owerri, Imo State-based educationist, maintained that the purchase of expensive state-of-the-art cars, estimated at N3.6 billion by the House of Representatives means that members are alien to what is going on in the country.

She said: “By this, I mean the recession. Let me tell you my brother, whosever goes there is simply going to represent himself and his family. Instead of offering scholarships to bright, but indigent students, provide jobs for the teeming unemployed youths, provide simple basic amenities, shelter for the poor widow in the village, they are busy buying big cars for themselves. I weep for Nigeria.”

 

‘Were The Cars Budgeted For?’

 

Gbubemi Ekengbuda, a Warri-based company worker wondered if the exotic cars were budgeted for.

He stated that if they were, then the lawmakers are entitled to it whether there is a recession or not. He explained further: “First, we find out if these cars were budgeted for and if ‘yes’, then they are entitled to it whether there is recession or not.

“If the Senate and the Presidency can accept what was budgeted for them, then the members of the lower chamber have a right to their own.

“But again, we must ask ourselves if the purchase of these exotic cars is not meant to show the height of disdain our political representatives have for the Nigerians in the face of the biting economic hardship battering the masses today.

“If they truly mean well for the suffering populace, why don’t they shelve the cars and channel the monies into other economically beneficial venture that would ameliorate or is capable of cushioning the effects of the recession on Nigerians as a way of sacrifice?

“As for me, the political class is a bunch of selfish lot as can be seen from the DSS and EFCC operations as it affects recovery of looted funds from all manner of persons that has opportunity to be close to our common wealth.

“Their actions, including those of our supposed respected Justices, leave a sour taste in the mouth. From the politicians to military personnel and then the judge, in fact, the leadership of the country before the current regime is a bunch shameless rogues out to satisfy only themselves and their generations yet unborn.”

Ekengbuda stated that if proper investigation is conducted into how these cars were bought, it would be discovered that highly placed Nigerians from the Presidency to the legislature might have had roles to play in it, hence the cars must be delivered irrespective of what Nigerians think or say.

 

We Need The Cars To Move Around, Says Rep Member, Gaza

Following reports that the House of Representatives has taken delivery of luxury cars worth N3.6 billion despite the crippling recession ravaging the nation’s economy, the House has justified its action.

Reacting to inquiry regarding the necessity of the transaction given the prevailing economic situation, Hon. Jonathan Gaza Gbefwi (PDP, Nasarawa), Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, stated that just like the executive needs mobility to carry out its activities, legislators also require such mobility to oversight the executive with regards to budget implementation.

Gaza said: “Let me ask you one straight forward question. As you come to work every day, do you walk or trek? The answer is ‘no’. So, likewise we legislators, we have to have mobility and other office accessories to function properly.

“So, in order to perform our duties properly, we have to move around and that is why these cars are needed, and whatever it is that will enable us to do our work very well and enhance good governance for the benefit of Nigerians is necessary.

“And you may want to ask: Why this number of vehicles and the amount involved? But, I will tell you that just as the executive requires to move around to implement policies in line with budgetary provisions, so do we need to move around to oversight whatever is being implemented.

“Throughout last week, many of us, including myself, were not around, because we were out on oversight. We were in Enugu, Abia, Anambra and Delta trying to monitor capital projects into which tax payers’ money has been put.

“If paucity of funds cannot allow us to fly around doing this oversight, we should at least have good operational vehicles that would aid our movement in and out of the National Assembly on oversight duties.

“The committee members need mobility for us to conduct oversight. Yes, you may say at this time of recession but you have to think of how to get out of it, and whatever we need to get out of it is necessary. So if we need computers, and other things, we have to get them,” Gbefwi said.

 

APC Change Mantra, Deceptive – Lawyer

Olu Omotayo, a human rights lawyer, in his reaction to the delivery of exotic cars worth N3.6 billion to members of the House of Representatives, maintained that with the coming of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, nothing has really changed, even though Nigerians voted for the party as a result of its ‘Change’ mantra.

Omotayo, the President of Citizens Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN), said the vehicles bought for the federal lawmakers clearly showed that the government is not ready to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians.

“They are not sincere. They used ‘Change’ to deceive Nigerians. There is insecurity, hunger and crisis everywhere. It is clear to everybody that the government is not ready to alleviate the sufferings of people.

“Corruption has continued. Wasteful spending persists. In fact, this government is not better than the last government, which it accused of corruption,” Omotayo said.

He, however, noted that “when a government is not doing well in a democracy, the people have to wait for the next election to vote out that government, although it does not stop them from criticising the failing government.

 

‘The Purchase Cannot Be Unjustifiable’

Mr. Samson Edobor, a Benin-based lawyer, described the action as unjustified, especially when majority of those who voted them into office cannot afford three square meals a day.

According to him, “one would have thought that by now the Presidency will be bold enough to take the first step to solve the problem of the recession by announcing a 50% cut in the salaries and allowances of public office holders, both elected and appointed, as a way to prove to the people that there is recession and that everybody should be ready to make sacrifice to solve the problem.

“For the House of Reps to be taking delivery of N3.6bn exotic cars, they are telling us directly that there is no recession. All they are doing is to starve the masses to have enough to live extravagant lives. They should be reminded that if they allow the present situation to persist for too long, they should expect the worst reaction from the people in no distant time.”