The House of Representatives has put on hold its plans to purchase 360 exotic cars for its members.
Investigations by our correspondent showed that the funds to prosecute the purchase remained the main drawback for the House in taking a final decision on the controversial “utility” or “committee” cars.
“Funding for the cars will come from the 2016 budget. As you are aware, the budget has not been passed. The passage of the budget will decide how much will be available for vehicles,” a House official informed The PUNCH in Abuja.
It was also learnt that the House had yet to decide on the brand of cars to buy for the lawmakers, who were split on whether to settle for Peugeot 508 saloon cars or the 2015 model of Toyota Camry.
Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited reportedly started advertising the 508 series to lawmakers since December 2015 in a bid to get them to patronise the local assembly plant.
The firm was said to have sent catalogues to the House to promote the features of the 508 series.
One senior member of the House told The PUNCH in confidence that the cars had not been bought, but insisted that the House would make the purchase at the appropriate time.
The source added, “Look, all these talks will not stop us from buying our utility vehicles. We haven’t bought the vehicles because there is no money yet.
“We are going to buy the cars at the appropriate time. If a minister, who is junior in the order protocol to a legislator, has up to four Land Cruiser SUVs as officials vehicles, why do people think that just one Camry or Peugeot 508 is too much for a member?
“What is the uproar about? That a member is asking to buy a Camry to use for oversight duties is too big?”
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, said the House had neither ordered nor taken delivery of the controversial vehicles.
Namdas confirmed that the House would buy the cars when funding was available after the passage of the budget.
“I think this car issue has generated too much hues and cries. The House has not bought any cars for now.
“We will buy cars and the public will know about it because there is nothing to hide, really,” he added.
Sunday PUNCH had reported that the Senate had purchased the vehicles.
The newspaper reported that eminent Nigerians had criticised the Senate for defying Nigerians, including President Muhammadu Buhari, by going ahead to buy the exotic vehicles, put at about N4.7bn.
Those who flayed the Senate included the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN); Senator Femi Okurounmu and Dr. Junaid Mohammed.
The contractor in charge of delivering the vehicles, Lanre Shittu Motors, had confirmed to Sunday PUNCH that it had delivered a lot of vehicles to the Senate.
The Group Executive Director, Lanre Shittu Motors, Mr. Taiwo Shittu, in an interview, stated that a lot of deliveries had been made to the Senate.
The Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to the Senate President, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, had, in a statement on Saturday, stated that only one new vehicle had changed in the convoy of his principal, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Olaniyonu, explained that the new vehicle, a Mercedes Benz, was meant to replace the old spare car in the convoy that the Senate President inherited and had been using since he assumed office in June last year.Source: PUNCH