Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has taken delivery of new exotic cars purchased by the National Assembly management for his official use, brushing aside widespread criticisms against such lavish spending at a time of national economic crisis.Premium Times on Saturday, February 27 reported that Senator Saraki took delivery of new exotic cars.
However, the office of the Senate president has dismissed claims that Saraki spent over N330million to acquire vehicles, stating that only the official vehicle of the Senate president, a MercedezBenz, was changed and that the spare car in the convoy is the old one he inherited which he has been using since he assumed office June last year. In a release through his special adviser on media, Yusuph Olaniyonu, on Saturday 27, Saraki faulted the reports that classified “vehicles provided for security agencies like the police and State Security Service by the National Assembly management for their operations as vehicles bought for the Senate President”.
The statement noted that the vehicles the Senate president inherited and has been using are old and have been malfunctioning which prompted him to order for a new one. Highlighting instances where the vehicles broke down:
“There are instances like the day Dr. Saraki visited Keffi for the marriage of the daughter of Senator Abdullahi Adamu and another day at the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport that the spare vehicle broke down. In both instances, the spare vehicle did not return home with the convoy. “The same vehicle had malfunctioned at the Presidential Villa and National Mosque on different occasions. It is for this reason that the Senate President approved that instead of providing two vehicles for him as he is entitled, only one should be bought to replace the official vehicle while the old official car should be converted to spare car.”
“Also, if the National Assembly Management chose to provide operational vehicles for Security Agencies, should that be presented as if they are personal or official vehicles meant for the use of Dr. Saraki? These are vehicles that cannot be used for other purposes and by other people. The Senate President also have no control over the security vehicles. The office of the Senate president queried why Premium Times reported that the order for the vehicle was made in December, but chose to calculate the value of the vehicles based on current exchange rate of the Naira to the dollar. It cautioned the press to desist from deliberately inciting members of the public against public officials, noting that the “Senate President and his colleagues are conscious of the economic situation in the country and will continue to act responsibly and responsively”. Recall that sometimes last year, the media reported that the National Assembly had proposed about N4.7 billion on at least 400 vehicles for leaders and members of the Senate and House of Representatives. This prompted former president Olusegun Obasanjo to write members of the National Assembly asking them to jettison the plan to buy official vehicles. Obasanjo told the legislators that the waste that had gone into cars, furniture, housing renovation in the past was mind-boggling. He also stated that these were veritable sources of waste and corruption. That was why they were abolished. He said such action was inimical to the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.