Labour Party lawmakers in the National Assembly have ignored the advice of the party’s National Chairman, Julius Abure, not to be a part of the luxury official vehicles being planned for legislators.
Abure had, in a statement on Monday, said the National Assembly leadership was planning to buy a Sport Utility Vehicle worth N160m for each lawmaker.
Abure, who described the alleged plan as insensitive and condemnable given the dire economic situation in the country, urged lawmakers elected on the platform of the Labour Party not to be a part of the profligate spending.
But when asked on Thursday whether LP lawmakers would do as Abure said, the lawmaker representing Delta Aniocha North and South, Ngozi Okolie, said Abure’s demands were unrealistic particularly because he had yet to provide them with alternatives to carry out their jobs.
The LP lawmaker said, “The SUVs are meant to aid our jobs as lawmakers, particularly as it relates to our oversight functions.
“Yes, he can say that the economy is struggling but having one official vehicle as federal lawmakers isn’t frivolous; it’s a necessity.”
Okolie noted that Nigerians were quick to attack lawmakers over things like this whereas politicians at the state level get more benefits than federal lawmakers.
He said, “Commissioners and House of Assembly members get up to two to three of such cars whereas National Assembly members are only getting one car each, yet he (Abure) is complaining and telling us not to collect it. Does he have any to give to us?
“Is he going to give us work tools to carry out our jobs or does he have an alternative for us? Has Abure told the members in his state in Edo, not to take the official vehicles given to them?”
The lawmaker further argued that it was cheaper to buy those vehicles than hire one every time they needed to go on an oversight.
Similarly, the lawmaker representing Igbo Etiti and Uzo-Uwani constituencies in Enugu State, Stainless Nwodo, said President Bola Tinubu deserved commendation for approving such vehicles for lawmakers.
“Nobody in the National Assembly is against the SUV, when the SUV comes, we will collect it and use it to bring more benefits to our constituencies; because in the real sense, it is for the constituents.”
The lawmaker added, “I don’t want to believe the chairman of the party said so, because did he give us any vehicle to do our jobs?
“Attributing his reason to economic hardship is pure blackmail. In the first instance, the vehicle is for each constituency, not the personal vehicle for the members.
“Also, we need these SUVs to ply the bad roads in our constituencies when we need to visit them and deliver goodies to them. This is why the Speaker and the Senate President decided that SUVs are better to visit our constituencies.
“My own stance is that I will take the SUV and use it to deliver dividends to my constituents.”
On his part, the lawmaker representing Edo South Senatorial District, Neda Imasuen, said he would wait for the vehicles to arrive before making a decision.
Senator Imasuen said, “I’d urge you to wait until that happens, then we will revisit the issue. I wouldn’t want to count my chickens before they hatch.
“Labour Party has eight senators out of 109 and about 35 in the House of Representatives out of 360. So, I don’t know if it would make any difference if the lawmakers in the party take it or not.
“I don’t think telling them to take or reject would make any difference, I don’t think it would affect anything.
“Having said that, we haven’t been given any vehicle yet, but they said they would give.”
Source: The Punch