There are indications that the Nigerian senate purchased 108 Toyota Land Cruiser Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) at a price that double the initial price of each vehicle in the country’s showroom.
While the senate commenced the delivery of the 108 SUVs to members at the cost of N3.8 billion, Daily Trust gathered that the first set of the cars, numbering 36, was delivered last Tuesday and distributed to senators last Wednesday.
It was also gathered that the lawmakers purchased each for N35.1 million, while showroom price shows that a Toyota Land Cruiser SUV V6 2016 model cost about N17 million.
The vehicles, it was learnt, were still delivered despite the controversy surrounding its purchase.
The cars were distributed the same day some senators told the Senate President Bukola Saraki that standing committees could no longer perform their statutory functions as a result of paucity of funds.
Speaking on the matter, a source close to the polity said that one senator had been given from each of the 36 states of the federation.
“Since only 36 were delivered at a meeting on Tuesday, it was agreed that one senator should be given from each of the 36 states of the federation. They were given the cars on Wednesday,” the source said.
In a related development, a senator said:
“The cars were initially pegged at N35 million but now it has been reviewed upward to N55 million. They will soon bring the remaining cars but most of the senators close to Saraki have been given. My friend started driving his own on Thursday.
“Nigerians should watch out. Our colleagues have started receiving the cars but some have decided to sell theirs because they don’t want their people to know about them.
“If you collect the cars and you think you are doing the right thing, why won’t you drive it? Are they [Senators] not the ones who insisted on buying the cars? If it is legal and right, let them drive the cars to their constituencies.”
Reacting to the matter, when contacted, the spokesperson of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the cars were a necessity, and not luxury.
He said: “Let us face the reality, if Special Advisers can use cars like this as official cars, then why the noise about ours? A senator is representing a constituency, a district. Do you expect him to be trekking to discharge his duties? These cars are not a luxury, the cars are a practical and absolute necessity.”
“It is not far from the problem everybody knows. It is not that the committees are not working; it is the quantum of the work; because one committee could organize five public hearings. So it is the quantum of work and limited resources.
“The cars are capital projects, while the public hearings are not. There is a difference between capital and recurrent expenditure,”