By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—IN response to the public outcry that greeted the planned expenditure of N5.04bn on “exotic” cars for members of the National Assembly, members of the House of Representatives have said they deserved to drive jeeps otherwise called Sports Utility Vehicle (SUVs) and not Toyota Camrys.
It will be recalled that a civil society group, SERAP is threatening legal action against the House and the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila over the matter.
According to SERAP, it is outrageous that 469 members of both the Senate and the House will opt for “exotic” vehicle, gulping humongous sum for official use at a time the economy of the country is in dire straits.
Reacting to the reported impending suit, the Spokesman of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu in a rebuttal he sent to Vanguard said that it was against the spirit of moral and natural justice for some sections of the public to isolate the lawmakers for possible “crucifixion”, and leave the Executive and Judiciary free.
He said the two arms of government hardly even use the Camrys but SUVs and other cars of choice in the execution of their assignments.
The spokesman said the lawmakers, considering the state of the roads which the Executive has refused to fix, should also be given SUVs for their oversight functions.
“Of all three arms of government, the legislature does not necessarily fare well when it comes to approval ratings. This image problem is not peculiar to Nigeria. There are so few countries in the world where the legislature as an institution enjoys good popularity; including the United States of America which we often hail as the most ideal democracy.
“While it is understandable that the legislature, being the closest arm of government to the people has to bear the brunt of their frustrations at the executive arm of government. We must take care that our bias against the legislature does not become a grand act of self-sabotage. ”
“The fulcrum of any democratic government is the legislature- the assembly of the elected representatives of the people. Its presence is the key identifier of a democracy. Such an institution where representatives from all parts of Nigeria sit on a daily basis to deliberate on the affairs of the nation and make laws for the ben