By Sola Omoniyi, Lagos
Senator Ali Ndume of Borno South has defended the purchase of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) for members of the National Assembly, arguing that such a move is not new.
Members of the National Assembly faced intense criticism recently when news filtered in that each of the 469 lawmakers would be getting an SUV valued at N160m.
But Ndume believes the development is not novel, maintaining that public servants have always had official vehicles.
“Buying vehicles for public or civil servants is not a new thing. It is only as you, said, ‘What are the implications? What is the cost and what are the alternatives?” Ndume, who spoke on Sunday, said.
While he concurs that the public has a right to question the purchase of the vehicles especially given Nigeria’s current post-petrol subsidy era, the senator said the cars are needed for official work.
“But for me, I come to serve and in serving the people, my major constitutional rule is oversight and making laws,” Ndume added.
“If I have to do that effectively, then I need a vehicle that would enable me to do that effectively. That is what I think is the idea behind buying the vehicles.
“But it is not new that public servants, especially in the rank of ministers, and heads of parastatals get vehicles,” he said.
Senator Ndume, however, said over the years, the cost of buying such vehicles has continued to rise.
Away from this, he is calling on President Bola Tinubu to sign an executive order on unexplained wealth.
“I have tried several times [to introduce a bill on unexplained wealth] but you know, there were excuses here and there,” Ndume, the Senate Chief Whip said.
“I think the best way to get this across is when the bill comes from the executive or in the interim, the current president should sign an executive bill on unexplained wealth.”