The Senate has said that the N5.5 billion allocated for the purchase of vehicles for lawmakers is not mischievous but part of the N125 billion appropriation of the National Assembly for 2019.
The clarification over the exorbitant sum comes after several criticisms by Nigerians who expressed their concerns over the decision of the 9th National Assembly to purchase Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for each of the 469 federal lawmakers.
Due to the outcry of the masses, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), filed for legal action.
In supporting the actions of the Senate, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi said that it is disrespectful to see public commentators condemning the move.
Abdullahi held that the positions of serving senators and members of the House of Representatives warrants official vehicles in the mode of a functional utility vehicle or Jeep.
He said: “To say that a senator of the Federal Republic cannot ride a jeep in Nigeria is an insult.
“The N5.5 billion is from the National Assembly funds and not money being sought from any other source. Besides, the scheme 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 is 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, l know what ministers get; we cannot even compare ourselves with ministers because we are higher than the ministers.
According to him, the work senators perform weighs more than the work of ministers and “as representatives of the people, the money we spend on a daily basis on all forms of indigent people, far outweighs whatever they as ministers or executive officers spend.”
He added that both chambers of the National Assembly are ready at any time to engage any group of people in the polity on its operations and spending in line with the principles of accountability and transparency the 9th National Assembly stands for.
“Each of the ministers move in convoy of three to four utility vehicles without anybody raising an eyebrow while some people who either as a result of ignorance or mischief, always cry to high heavens anytime the management of the National Assembly wants to buy just one utility vehicle for a lawmaker on the template of monetisation,” he lamented.