The Reps spokesperson explained that the 360 exotic vehicles are not personal gifts to the lawmakers but utility operational vehicles for their oversight functions.
The House of Representatives has confirmed reports that the National Assembly management is in the process of purchasing 360 exotic vehicles for its members, which will be distributed to its members in the coming weeks.
Recall that unverified reports on the purchase of exotic vehicles for members of the National Assembly had hit the internet resulting in social media outbursts.
However, the spokesperson of the House, Rep. Akin Rotimi (APC, Ekiti), in a statement issued Sunday night, confirmed the report adding that the purchase of vehicles for legislators is in accordance with extant procurement laws, and has been the practice in previous Assemblies.
Rep. Rotimi asserted that the purchase was also not peculiar to the Legislature, officials in the Executive arm of government have official vehicles attached to their offices.
The statement reads, “While many versions of this story carry varying exaggerations, we can confirm that the National Assembly bureaucracy is in the phased process of procuring and distributing operational vehicles to honorable members over the coming weeks and months.
“This development is in accordance with extant procurement laws and has been the practice in previous assemblies. It 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 reiterated that the cars allocated to the lawmakers are to aid them in discharging their functions, adding that the 360 exotic vehicles remain the property of the National Assembly for the duration of the 10th Assembly.
“It is important to make a few clarifications. The vehicles to be allocated to the offices of honorable 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 honorable 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, honorable 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 the property of the National Assembly.
“The public is invited to note that as part of the 10th Assembly’s objective to ensure our integrity and independence, honorable members of the Green Chamber have resolved to maintain a respectable distance from the Executive arm of government, especially in issues relating to logistical aspects of oversight functions, including reaching difficult terrains in the country.
“No matter how remote the location is, as long as Nigerian citizens live 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.”
Further, the lawmaker noted that the budget of the National Assembly has been downward and should be reviewed considering the present realities on the ground.
“Also, the House would like to inform the public that we remain committed to reducing the cost of governance in line with present realities. Those 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 our national budget has been on a downward trend over the past decade despite inflation, and the expanding role and relevance of honorable members in the lives of citizens. It currently stands at 0.5% 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”, Rotimi stated.