…Says We are ready to defend our spendings
…Money for it part of the 2019 N125bn NASS budget
.Says Senators work more than Ministers who move in convoy of 4 SUVs, No noise from the Public
…A serving Senator, House of Representatives member deserves a functional Utility Vehicle or Jeep.
By Henry Umoru
THE Senate, Wednesday lampooned those criticising the plan of the 9th National Assembly to purchase Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) for each of the 469 federal lawmakers at a total cost of N5.5 billion, saying that is nonsensical and the critics were simply ignorant.
According to the Senate, it was highly insulting that some public commentators are criticising and kicking against the move, stressing that Ministers go around in convoy of four SUVs, yet no noise from the public, but moves to purchase one of such for a law maker is creating tension in the public.
Speaking with Journalists yesterday in Abuja, Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, All Progressives Congress, Kebbi North stressed that there was nothing for anybody to cry over as far as the plan was concerned against the backdrop that a serving Senator and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, deserved to have an official vehicle in the mode of a functional utility vehicle or Jeep.
It would be recalled that public outcry over the move by management of the National Assembly had last month led to litigation against it in the court of law by some concerned citizens and social crusaders led by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project ( SERAP).
The Senate Leader said: “To say that a Senator of the Federal Republic cannot ride a jeep in Nigeria is an insult.
“The N5.5b is from the national Assembly fund and not money being sought from any other source . Besides , the schene as it has always been with previous Assemblies, is a monetised one, requiring each of the lawmakers to pay back the cost of whatever vehicle given to them.
“The outcry over it is very unnecessary and insulting to the Institution of the National Assembly and status of the federal lawmakers.
“When I was a Permanent Secretary, I know what ministers get, we cannot even compare ourselves with ministers because we are higher than the ministers.
“Go and tell the people that the work that we do, is more than the work of ministers and as representatives of the people , the money will spend on a daily basis to all forms of indigent people, far outweighs whatever they as Ministers or executive officers spend.”
Senator Abdullahi, however, vowed that both Chambers of the National Assembly are ready at anytime to engage any group of people in the polity on its operations and spendings in line with the principles of accountability and transparency the 9th National Assembly stands for.
He said, “Each of the Ministers move in convoy of three to four Utility Vehicles without anybody raising any eyebrow while some people who either as a result of ignorance or mischief, always cry to high heavens anytime, management of the National Assembly wants to buy just one Utility vehicle for a lawmaker on the template of monetisation.”
The Senate Leader however commended the executive for rolling out the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework ( MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper ( FSP) the basis upon which the 2020 budget proposals will be presented next month by President Muhammadu Buhari in moving the yearly budgetary cycle from May/ June as it is presently to January to December every year.