The Senate yesterday debunked a statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari that the upper chamber of the National Assembly was planning to purchase cars worth N4.5bn for its members.
While admitting that plans were on for the purchase of cars, it clarified that the cost will not be anything close to the various figures of N4.5bn, N6bn or N50bn that is being bandied about.
Buhari had during his first presidential media chat condemned the alleged plan by the National Assembly to purchase cars for lawmakers worth an estimated N47bn, saying he would revisit the issue and exploit all avenues to stop them from proceeding on such a wasteful venture.
The President, who was responding to a question by one of the panellists, said: “I turned down a huge bill for vehicles, but I know we need some vehicles for foreign visitors. If I refuse to agree for my own presidency I will not agree for NASS. I cannot see NASS spending N45billion to buy cars on top of the transport allowance they collect. I hope the cars have not been bought.”
But the Senate in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, denied plans to purchase cars at the said exorbitant rates and said the rumour was the handiwork of some contractors who felt their bid for the supply of the cars would fail.
Abdullahi explained that shortly after getting the management team and the Senate Services Committee to commence the due process mechanism for the purchase, certain contractors who bided for the supply of the vehicles but felt their bid would not scale through began sponsoring media propaganda against the project and even leaked the recommendations of the body working on the proposed project.
According to the statement: “Since the claim in an online medium that we are planning to purchase vehicles, we have not taken any further action on the issue. We are surprised that a proposed purchase became a subject of controversy and several figures that are far from our projections have been bandied about.
“While an online medium put the figure at N4.5 billion, another one said N6 billion and now the president on national television was talking about N50 billion. These are outrageous figures. Once the debate on the 2016 budget begins, Nigerians will have the opportunity of knowing how much we voted for purchase of cars and how we intend spending the vote.
“This is a responsible and responsive National Assembly. We really need project vehicles to facilitate our work. We will, however, follow due process when we choose to take decisions on the purchase. We will also take into consideration the views, feelings and mood of the nation in taking the decisions. We will not be profligate or extravagant when what is apparently needed in our country is moderate and frugal spending.
“We however call on all Nigerians to be patient with us, and not jump the gun or rush into conclusions, particularly when no decision has been taken. The way the issue is being presented is as if we have ordered the car or have paid for it,” Abdullahi added.