The chairman of the Senate Committee on Services, Ibrahim Gobir, has defended the Senate’s decision to pay N36.5 million for each of dozens of Toyota Land Cruisers recently acquired for senators.
The senate has come under fire for apparently spending far more than the open market cost of each of the vehicles, and more importantly for spending the huge amount at a time of national economic crisis.
Mr. Gobir told journalists on Tuesday in Abuja that the specification of the acquired vehicles were higher than those reported in the media.
According to him, the specification of Land Cruisers was VXR V8 not V6.
“The car we bought is Land Cruiser VXR V8, not V6,” said Mr. Gobir.
“The showroom price is about N31 million minimum and then when you add 10 per cent tax it becomes 36.5 million.
“In fact you can go to the internet and download it; it is very simple, we can give you the website, and you can see them.
“So, I think what we have purchased the car for is very reasonable”.
He also said that the Senate purchased only 36 vehicles, contrary to media reports that it procured 108 cars.
“A lot has been happening within the last two days concerning the issue of cars, car loan, appropriation and cost of the cars and we feel it necessary to come out and inform the public about it.
“This is so, so that people can have a better understanding of the whole thing to avoid wrong perception as being created among Nigerians.
“That we bought 108 cars is totally wrong; it is not correct. We bought 36 cars.
“These 36 cars, each senator in each state is either a chairman or a vice chairman and we gave one car to each state to share as utility car. So, we don’t have money to buy 108 cars.
“We had a closed session and they agreed that we should give one car per state; we sat down and agreed who needs the car most and that was what happened,” he said.
Mr. Gobir also denied allegations that the senate purchased the cars without appropriation.
According to him, on the issue of buying cars without appropriation, it is totally wrong because this has been appropriated in the 2015 budget.
“So, we used what we have in the 2015 budget to buy the 36 cars so that it can go round to each state,” he stated.
On reports that the lawmakers earlier accessed loans for the purchase of cars, Mr. Gobir said no lawmaker got any form of loan for the purchase of car.
He responded to massive criticisms from Nigerians about the Senate’s insensitivity in spending such money on cars given Nigeria’s present economic challenge, saying purchase of 36 cars as against 109 was informed by senate’s concern for state of the economy.
“We are supposed to buy 109 cars but because of the paucity of funds, because of our sensitivity and concern for lack of funds, we bought only 36 to go round per state,” Mr. Gobir said.
He decried the level of criticism on the National Assembly in spite of efforts to cut down cost to meet present economic reality.
“Come to think of it, there is no minister that hasn’t got about three, four cars – one Land Cruiser, maybe a back-up and two Hilux cars.
“There is no director in the civil service that hasn’t got a car. There is no permanent secretary that hasn’t got a Land Cruiser.[Premium Times]