The Nigerian Senate has responded to reports by a news site that it plans to illegally spend an estimated N4.7 billion on exotic cars for its President, Bukola Saraki, and 108 other members.
In a statement signed by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, the senate claimed that the vehicles are to be used for execution of committee assignments, noting that, they are not meant for individual senators.
Premium Times had reported that the purchase of the cars in the guise of buying it for committees is a ploy to circumvent the monetisation policy of government which forbids the purchase of official cars for public officials.
Under the policy, no new vehicles should be purchased by any agency of government for use by public officials.
The Senate spokesperson, however, insisted that the cars in Mr. Saraki’s convoy are so old that they are begging for replacement.
The statement noted that “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.
“We have been very frugal, responsive and responsible in our spendings. 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.”