Amidst criticisms against the purchase of very expensive 2023 model of the Toyota Landcruiser and Toyota Prado being procured for the use of the 469 members of the National Assembly, the Senate on Tuesday justified its own purchase of the Toyota Landcruiser for 107 of its members at the contract price of about N160 million each.
This is in addition to the bullet proof vehicles being purchased for Senate President Godswill Akpabio and his deputy, Barau Jibrin.
The leadership of the Senate and that of the House of Representatives, in active collaboration with the management of the National Assembly have already given out seperate contracts for the vehicles .
The move had drawn the ire of Nigerians who have been calling out the lawmakers for being insensitive to the plight of Nigerians amid high cost of living.
The Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) said procuring SUVs for federal lawmakers was provocative at a time that most families can barely feed their members three square meals per day, and hospitals and roads are collapsing rapidly all across the country.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to stop the National Assembly from procuring and taking delivery of exotic and bulletproof cars for members and principal officials pending the hearing and determination of the applications for injunction filed by the organization.
But the Red Chamber defended the purchase of the SUVs, saying lawmakers needed the vehicles for their operations.
Addressing reporters at the National Assembly, Abuja, the chairman, Committee on Senate services, Sunday Karimi (APC, Kogi) said the criticism was uncalled for as members of the other arms of government used similar vehicles.
He urged critics to beam their search light on ministers and members of state assemblies.
He said, “A minister has more than three land cruisers, prado and other vehicles and you are not asking them questions, why us?
“The issue of buying vehicles for National Assembly members, you know it is a reoccurring issue. It occurs every assembly, it will always come up.
“If you got to state houses of assembly today, check out, most of them before they were even inaugurated, the governor would have bought vehicles for them even local government chairmen. I drove the vehicle my local government chairman uses. So, why National Assembly?
“These vehicles that you see, go to Nigerian roads today, If I go home once, my senatorial district, I come back spending a lot on my vehicles because our roads are bad.”
Karimi said the Senate settled for Toyota Landcruiser against a local product after a comparative of analysis of cost, technical issues and durability on Nigeria roads.
“We want something that we can maintain for another four years. It is not the decisions of the senators alone, we did an analysis before arriving at Land cruiser,” he said.
On the issue of cost, Karimi said, “When I came to the Senate, when they gave me their liability. They have a liability of over N16 billion that is made up of different thing including vehicles purchased for members of 7th, 8th and 9th assemblies.
“If you are a businessman and you supply vehicles for somebody in 2014 or 2015 or so and up till now they are owing you. I am not trying to defend anybody.
“If a Landcruiser in the market let say it is A cost, you don’t expect somebody that will supply it to supply it at the price they are selling it in the market.
“It has to leave a margin and the civil service rule for supply allows for 25% margin, plus 7.5% VAT. Out of that 25% margin, they will still remove 5% tax from it.
“You are telling someone to supply when the clients may even end up not making payment for three years and you want him to supply at the price they are selling in the market, it is not possible.”
Senate urges FG to withhold statutory allocation to LGC without elected officials
The Senate has urged the Federal Government to henceforth withhold statutory allocation to the Local Governments Councils(LGC) without democratically elected leaders
In the last three months of August, September and October the Local Governments received N702.647b out of N1.006 shared for the three tiers of government in the period under review.
The legality or otherwise of the Federal Governmemt’s power to enforce the Senate’s recommendation is left for legal experts to analyse
The Senate’s recommendation came after debate on the Urgent Need to halt the erosion of democracy: the dissolution of elected Councils in Benue State sponsored by Sen. Moro, Abba Patrick (Benne South)
The senate condemned the arbitrary dissolution of democratically elected Local Government Councils in Benue and other states in Nigeria
It also resolved to urge the Federal Government to review the Benue State governor’s dissolution of the elected councils and constitution of caretaker committees and reinstate the elected council executive forthwith.
The upper legislative chamber urged the governor of Benue state to adhere to his oath of office to obey the rule of law and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
While leading the debate Senator Moro he was dismayed by the dissolution of Democratically Elected Councils in Benue State,
According to him, replacing the elected chairmen with Caretaker Committees to is an aberration and alien to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)
Quoting Section (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) he said it guarantees a system of local government by Democratically Elected Councils.
He insisted that it is the Constitutional responsibility of every state to ensure the existence of Local
Government Councils by law.
He indicated that there are subsisting court rulings directing the Governor, the House of Assembly, their agents, privies etc not to tamper with the tenure of the elected Councils
He therefore challenged the Governor/Government of Benue State to first appeale the outstanding judgments which has not been done adding that it is against the grain of the rule of law
Senator Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North) pointed out thatabout 16 states in Nigeria are currently without democratically elected council officials.
He urged the Senate to direct the Finance Minister to stop funding LGS without elected council officials.
Oshiomhole’s suggestion was supported by Senator Ali Ndume.
The senator representing Oyo North, Abdulfatai Buhari indicated that the Electoral Act should be amended to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct local government elections.
The President of the senate Godswill Akpabio also frowned at the establishment of multiple federal agencies but advocated the creation of the National Electoral Commission for Local Government so that governors would no longer have overbearing influence on council polls
Tinubu asks Senate to endorse $8.6bn, €100m loans approved by Buhari’s govt
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has asked the Senate to give him the authorization to borrow $8,699,168,559 and €100 million to carryout critical projects across the country.
The president’s request was contained in a letter read at the commencement of plenary on Tuesday by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
Tinubu, in the letter, explained that the request was part of the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan approved by former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He said the projects to be funded with the loan cuts across different sectors of the economy, and were selected based on economic evaluation and the expected contribution to the country’s development.
The letter reads, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached the federal government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan for consideration and early approval of the National Assembly to ensure prompt implementation of the projects.
“The Senate may wish to note that the past administration approved a 2022-2024 borrowing plan by the federal executive council (FEC) held on May 15, 2023.
“The projects cut across all sectors, with specific emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation as well as financial management reforms.
“Consequently, the required approval is in the sum of $8,699,168,559 and €100 million.
“I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the social economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.
“Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary for the Senate to consider and approve the 2022- 2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.”
Niger Coup: Northern Senators ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic
***Plead with Tinubu to restore electricity supply to Niger
The Northern Senators Forum on Monday called on President Bola Tinubu to as a matter of Urgency use his position as Chairman of ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community
They also demanded that Nigeria restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
The senators had in July on the heels of the military forceful take over of the democratically elected government in Niger, cautioned President Tinubu against use of Military power towards tackling the military coup, as they called for diplomatic options.
A communique issued at the end of their emergency meeting which was read by the chairman of the forum, Senator Abdul Ningi (Bauch Central) stated, “The forum on very strong terms condemn the spate of Military intervention in the democratic spaces in the West African subregion.
“The Northern Senators Forum in particular condemns the coup in Niger and urged the military junta in Niger to soften the relationship with the rest of ECOWAS military by setting free President Muhammed Bazoum and his immediate family to freely choose a country of his choice for asylum
They further urged the junta in Niger to bring about a transition time table that will last not more than two years.
They ask ECOWAS to lift restrictions on Niger Republic in the interest of business and border community.
“It is important that Nigeriens should not suffer because of the coup that took place just like we have seen what is happening in Gaza
“We ask the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Commander in chief of the Armed forces and of course the chairman of ECOWAS, President Muhammed Bola Tinubu to as a matter of humanitarian gesture restore electricity supply to Niger Republic in line with the Nigeria-Niger treaty mandate.
Ningi called on Nigerians and Nigerien to remember that they remain brothers, partners and Africans and above all, we remain human beings
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