The Nigerian Senate has defended itself against public outrage over its plan to spend N5.5 billion on new cars for its members.
Top line quote: Spokesperson of the Senate, Senator Dayo Adeyeye told Channels Television’s Sunday Politics via telephone that the purchase was legal. According to him, every new administration budgets to procure vehicles for public officeholders.
- “It is an exercise in futility; a complete exercise in futility. Even I as a Senator have not heard anything about that… So why will people be relying on rumour and newspaper reports? I wouldn’t know and in any case, if the Senate is going to spend that (amount); if it is budgeted for, then it means it is purely legal.”
Backdrop: Sen. Adeyeye’s quote follows popular outrage over the budgeted amount — a significant sum given Nigeria’s fiscal situation. Already, a number of Civil Society Organisations and about 6,721 Nigerians filed a class action at a Federal High Court against the planned spending.
Why it matters
According to a report quoting the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), aside other allowances for the lawmakers, each of the senators is entitled to N8, 105,600 as motor vehicle allowance. In essence, the total allocation for 109 senators will amount to about N883 million, a far cry from the over five billion proposed.
Senator Adeyeye said that it is an entitlement of the Senators. “Why are they focusing on the National Assembly and not looking at the Executive, Judiciary arms of government? All of these people are entitled to official cars and do use official cars,” he said.
Bottomline: The lawsuit is important as a test of our democratic practices, although it is unlikely to scale on the basis of legality. However, this will definitely put a spotlight on the National Assembly and its procurement practices which is quite costly to Nigerian taxpayers.
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