Lawmakers purchasing cars at billions of Naira during a recession have finally severed non-existent ties with the Nigerian people
A story in The Punch newspaper details that 28 units of the Peugeot 508 series have been delivered to lawmakers in Abuja.
In the words of the newspaper, “The House allocated a princely N3.6B for the cars in the 2016 budget at a unit price of N10m.
“Fifty cars will be supplied in the first batch; 28 have already been delivered. That was last week.
“Twenty-two more in the first batch are expected to be delivered this week.”
The Senate has since acquired its own exotic cars at a cumulative cost of N4.7B.
The lawmakers say these cars will aid their work. The cars have been called ‘utility’ or ‘committee’ vehicles.
Nigerians have long deemed the lifestyle choices of their parliamentarians as mindlessly obscene.
When the legislators aren’t receiving bumper packages to upgrade their wardrobes and purchase new furniture, they are acquiring luxury cars.
Abdulrazak Namdas, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, says Nigerians should cut the lawmakers some slack in this instance.
“This issue of cars is long overdue. They are not for luxury but for committee and oversight duties. The 8th Assembly is nearing two years, yet members have no cars to carry out their duties.
“Ministers and other officials in the executive have long bought vehicles for official duties.
“At the state level, members of House of Assembly have cars to carry out basic functions. I think it is only fair that members of the National Assembly will have utility vehicles for their assignments.”
There is a conversation to be had about whether, like the rest of the country, our lawmakers should have their budgets for items like car purchases, slashed.
At a time when State Governors say they can’t afford to pay salaries of civil servants, when majority of Nigerians are just managing to get by, when more than 80 percent of Nigerians survive on less than a dollar a day and when millions of Nigerians live in extreme poverty...at a period when the price of oil in the international market has continued to plunge and when the value of the Naira is eroding faster than President Buhari’s goodwill, is it really okay for lawmakers to go on with this exotic car purchases?
Is it okay to keep buying new cars for each class of legislators every four years? Can we really keep up with this level of splurge in our democracy?
Is it okay for us to continue to run a most expensive democracy with the nation’s economy in tatters and with its treasury empty?
If government officials still ride around town in exotic cars, what moral right do they have to ask the citizenry to tighten their belts?
It has to be said that our lawmakers live in an alternate universe and that government officials exist in a bubble.
If there’s still some conscience left in the world, some of these exotic cars will be auctioned and the monies returned to the treasury. If the lawmakers really need these cars, they can actually purchase cheaper cars at a price lower than N10M for each car.
But who are we kidding?
In the words of singer Omawumi: "Do these guys mean us well?"