The House of Representatives has offered explanations in defense of its decision to buy exotic cars for its 360 members.
This happened on Thursday following public outcry over the decision in the face of the country’s economic recession.
The statement stated that lawmakers must have a means of mobility while carrying out oversight duties over Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government.
The House will spend at least N3.6bn across 24 months to complete payment for the exotic vehicles supplied by the Kaduna-based Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited.
Reps Defend Car Purchase, Cite Mobility As Necessity
According to reports, as of Monday, the house had already taken delivery of 28 units of Peugeot 508 series from the firm in the first batch of 50 cars.
By January 2017, a total of 360 units of the exotic automobile would have been delivered by the company.
Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Jonathan Gaza, while defending the procurement of the cars on Thursday, stated that recession would not stop lawmakers from performing their legislative duties.
He argued that in a recession, both the executive and legislative arms of government were expected to work even harder to find urgent solutions to challenges facing the country.
Gaza noted that while working during recession, members were not expected to trek to the premises of the MDAs for oversight duties.
“In a recession, we will all put on our thinking caps.
“We are working; these are committees’ cars and they are not the personal property of members.
“When you came here today, how did you come? Did you walk down to this place (National Assembly) from your house?
“If a member is going to visit an agency, will he trek there?
“We need materials, computers, stationery, cars; these are all for work.”
Reps Defend Exotic Cars Purchased
When asked whether the National Assembly would approve Buhari’s $29.96bn loan request, Gaza responded that discussions were ongoing between the two sides.
The lawmaker, however, stated no conclusions had yet been reached.
Hon. Gaza also declined to comment on whether the government had begun disbursement of funds for the constituency projects of lawmakers.
In the N6.06trn 2016 budget, constituency projects of senators and reps members are worth N100bn.
Reports say the refusal of the government to fund the projects is reported to be one of the major reasons behind the poor relationship between Buhari and the National Assembly.
Hon Gaza, when pressed for a response on the issue said:
“We don’t release money for constituency projects. Our work is to pass the budget and we passed the 2016 budget.
“It is the responsibility of the executive to release funds for projects.
“Also, the money is not paid into our pockets, we don’t touch it.”