Senate President Bukola Saraki has acquired official cars worth N330 million, Nigerian Insight gathered.
Saraki acquired the cars despite reservations expressed by Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Buhari had in his maiden media chat expressed reservation about the purchase of cars by the legislators. The lawmakers had after collecting car loans in August last year, insisted on buying cars for oversight functions.
Our correspondent recalled that Obasanjo, in January wrote a letter to Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, advising them to suspend the purchase of the cars in the face of the economic situation in the country.
Our source on Sunday learnt yesterday that Saraki has taken delivery of the cars. In all, the cars for Saraki and the remaining 108 senators will gulp N4.7 billion. Efforts to get the reaction of the Chairman, Senate Services Committee, Senator Ibrahim Gobir, yielded no result as he didn’t pick his call. His committee is responsible for the purchase of the cars.
But in a statement posted online, the media aide to Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu said only Saraki’s official vehicle, a Mercedez Benz, was changed and that the spare car in the convoy was the old one he inherited.
He said it was wrong for the press to classify vehicles provided for security agencies like the police and State Security Service by the National Assembly management for their operations as vehicles bought for the Senate president.
“It is an obvious fact that the official and spare cars that the Senate President inherited and has been using are old and have been malfunctioning. There are instances like the day Dr. Saraki visited Keffi for the marriage of the daughter of Senator Abdullahi Adamu and another day at the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport that the spare vehicle broke down. In both instances, the spare vehicle did not return home with the convoy’’, he said.
He added: “The same vehicle had malfunctioned at the Presidential Villa and national mosque on different occasions. It is for this reason that the Senate President approved that instead of providing two vehicles for him as he is entitled, only one should be bought to replace the official vehicle while the old official car should be converted to a spare car.
“Just last week, Dr. Saraki was informed that the Ministry of FCT in its 2016 budget proposed a N6 billion estimate for the construction of the official residence of the Senate President. He outrightly rejected the proposal and directed Senator Dino Melaye, Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT to bring down the cost to N1 billion.”