News Analysis

On the Purchase of Exotic Cars by the House of Representatives

Recently, the House of Representatives placed orders for the supply of four hundred units of Toyota Camry 2020 model.

At an executive closed-door session, the lawmakers rejected Nigerian brands, insisting on foreign ones, preferably imported and not locally assembled.

The four hundred saloon cars will be allocated to each of the three hundred and sixty members and some top members of management staff, chiefs of staff to the two presiding officers as well as some of their special advisers and assistants.

Before now, about fourteen Toyota Land Cruiser Prado were shared to the presiding and principal officers as well as chairmen of select House committees.

The House discovered that the national assembly had been turned into a dumping ground for smuggled and refurbished automobiles.

It is in the light of this that, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, and one hundred and ninety-two concerned Nigerians have filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, and all members of the House from spending an estimated five billion naira to buy cars.

SERAP is also seeking a court order to restrain and stop the National Assembly Service Commission from releasing any public funds to the House of Representatives to buy the vehicles, until an impact assessment of the spending on access to public services and goods like education, security, health and clean water, is carried out.

SERAP argued that lawmakers make up a small fraction of the country’s population and their needs should not be placed above the welfare of two hundred million Nigerians.

In the statistics of the World Poverty Clock, the number of extremely poor Nigerians has risen to over ninety-one million as at February last year.

The plan by the National Assembly to spend over five billion naira to buy vehicles for principal members of the Senate is a conflict of their personal interests with national interest of financial competence.

The nation’s lawmakers earn about thirteen point five million naira monthly which is one of the highest in the world.

For instance, in America, a senator earns one hundred and seventy-four thousand dollars and in the United Kingdom, a member of parliament earns about sixty-four thousand dollars a year.

It is unbelievable that the House of Representatives could shun indigenous auto assembly plant, in order to buy the 2020 edition of Toyota SUVs.

This is coming at a time when the government is asking Nigerians to tighten their belts by patronising made-in-Nigeria goods.

Government officials should also be seen as doing so.

It is not right for customs officials to impound imported rice, turkey and toothpicks while government officials are seen to be doing otherwise.

If the nation must be on par with developed countries of the world, the government needs to use the resources at its disposal for the development of the country.

It is therefore imperative that the idea of the National Assembly in purchasing imported cars should be discarded forthwith.

Fawzeeyah Kasheem

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