Purchase of 108 SUVs for senators, criminal – NLC

By The Citizen

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday accused the Senate of inflating the unit cost of the Toyota Land Cruiser Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) it procured for senators by over 100 per cent.

It demanded that the cars be returned to the suppliers.

The congress accused the Senate of spending money without appropriation when it admitted that its standing committees could not carry out their functions due to paucity of funds.

In a statement in Abuja by its President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, the congress said while the Senate bought each of the cars for N35.1 million, the actual market price stands at N17 million.

The NLC said the Senate should be prepared for a showdown with workers, civil society, women groups and students, if they failed to return the vehicles to the supplier.

The statement reads: 'We consider appalling, insensitive and greedy the decision of the Senate to acquire 108  Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs (one for each member less the Senate president) after collecting car 'loans' last August for the same purpose.

'It is equally morally despicable and shameful that they are doing this after publicly admitting that the standing committees of the Senate were unable to perform their statutory functions due to paucity of funds.

'We, at the NLC, equally consider it a wilful and grievous criminal act, the inflation of the unit cost of each of the cars by over a 100 per cent, as each car supposedly cost N35.1 million, instead of N17 million.

'Aside from this, Nigerians are keen to know from where they got money for the purchase of these cars without appropriation.'

It added: 'The defence offered by the Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, is laughable and childish.

'According to him, special advisers use SUVs, why not senators or do Nigerians expect them to trek to work? And in any case, cars are capital projects!

'Couldn't this have been put to better uses such as the constituency projects of these same senators?  At a time with severe economic challenges and deepening poverty in the land, can the Senate afford this level of reckless luxury and arrogance?

'The answer is, 'no'.
'Their multiple acts of criminality, ranging from acquiring these cars after previously taking loans for the same purpose; spending money without appropriation and over-inflating costs constitute not just corruption, but a crime against the people whom they claim to represent.

'Accordingly, we demand they return those cars to whoever supplied them or the appropriate agencies prosecute them for corruption.

'In the event none of this happens, they should be prepared to keep a date with workers and their civil society allies, including market women and students. No one is above the law.' The Nation