The House of Representatives has purchased a brand new Prado SUV worth N130 million for each of the over 360 lawmakers in the Green Chamber.
With the house comprising 360 members representing each of the Federal Constituencies of the country, that means no fewer than N46.8bn has been incurred on the vehicles.
In a statement at the weekend, Chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Akin Rotimi confirmed that the National Assembly bureaucracy is in the phased process of procuring and distributing operational vehicles to members in the coming weeks.
Rotimi argued that the development was in accordance with extant procurement laws and has been the practice in previous assemblies.
While justifying the purchase of the vehicles, Rotimi said the decision is also not peculiar to the legislature, as unelected government officials in the executive arm of government from Director level and above, in most cases, have official vehicles attached to their offices.
He said: “It is important to make a few clarifications. The vehicles to be allocated to the offices of honourable members are utility operational vehicles tied to their oversight functions in the discharge of their duties in the standing committees. They are not personal vehicles gifted to honourable members.
“For the duration of the 10th assembly (2023 – 2027), the vehicles shall remain the property of the National Assembly. At the expiration of the tenure of the 10th Assembly in 2027, should the extant assets deboarding policy of government still be in place, members may have the option of making payment for the outstanding value of the vehicles to government coffers before they can become theirs, otherwise it remains property of the National Assembly.
“As part of the 10th Assembly’s objective to ensure our integrity and independence, lawmakers have resolved to maintain a respectable distance from the Executive, especially on issues relating to logistical aspects of oversight functions, including reaching difficult terrains.
“No matter how remote the location is, as long as there are Nigerian citizens living there, they deserve highly mobile representatives who can see first-hand what they are going through, and ensure government interventions, programmes and policies are carried out effectively. This can only be possible with functional and reliable off-road vehicles.”
While assuring that the House was committed to reducing the cost of governance in line with present realities, he said Nigerians willing to research further would find a significant body of work with evidence that the percentage of the component of the legislature’s budget as part of the national budget has been on a downward trend over the past decade.
According to him, this is despite inflation and the expanding role and relevance of honourable members in the lives of citizens.
He said legislative budget currently stands at 0.5 per cent of the Federal budget.
“Accordingly, as all stakeholders continue to advance the conversation about reducing the cost of governance, we encourage looking in the right direction, and not cause disaffection for honourable members who want to discharge their duties effectively and above board, without being susceptible to inducement when the enablement to function is impaired.
“The vehicles are work tools, and not status symbols – Honourable Members are diligent and patriotic elected representatives and not entitled. The anticipated allocation of vehicles will contribute to improved representation, constituency outreach and oversight functions”, he added.