The House of Representatives has announced that it will soon distribute official vehicles to its members to facilitate their oversight functions.
The House’s spokesperson, Akin Rotimi, said the vehicles are not personal gifts but operational tools that will be returned at the end of their tenure.
Rotimi, in a statement on Sunday, said the purchase of the vehicles is in line with the procurement laws and the practice of previous assemblies. He added that the executive arm of government also provides official vehicles to its appointees from the director level and above.
He debunked the media reports that each lawmaker will receive an SUV worth N200m, saying they were exaggerated.
He said, “The House of Representatives is monitoring a trending topic across multiple traditional and online media, concerning the allocation of vehicles to honourable members, and because this issue has understandably generated significant public interest, we believe Nigerians deserve feedback from their elected representatives.
“While many versions of this story carry varying exaggerations, we can confirm that the National Assembly bureaucracy is in the phased process of procuring and distributing operational vehicles to honourable members over the coming weeks and months.
“This development is in accordance with extant procurement laws and has been the practice in previous assemblies. It is also not peculiar to the Legislature, as unelected government officials in the Executive arm of government from the Director level and above, in most cases, have official vehicles attached to their offices.
“It is important to make a few clarifications. The vehicles to be allocated to the offices of honourable members are utility operational vehicles tied to their oversight functions in the discharge of their duties in the standing committees. They are not personal vehicles gifted to honourable members.”
He explained that for the duration of the 10th assembly (2023 – 2027), the vehicles shall remain the property of the National Assembly. At the expiration of the tenure of the 10th Assembly in 2027, “should the extant assets deboarding policy of government still be in place, honourable members may have the option of making payment for the outstanding value of the vehicles to government coffers before they can become theirs, otherwise it remains the property of the National Assembly,” he said.
According to Rotimi, members have the option to purchase the vehicles after their tenure if they are willing to pay.
He noted, “The public is invited to note that as part of the 10th Assembly’s objective to ensure our integrity and independence, honourable members of the Green Chamber have resolved to maintain a respectable distance from the Executive arm of government, especially in issues relating to logistical aspects of oversight functions, including reaching difficult terrains in the country.
“No matter how remote the location is, as long as there are Nigerian citizens living there, they deserve highly mobile representatives who can see first-hand what they are going through, and ensure government interventions, programmes, and policies are carried out effectively
“This can only be possible with functional and reliable off-road vehicles.”
The Spokesperson of the House also informed the public that the lawmakers remain committed to reducing the cost of governance in line with present realities.
“Those willing to research further would find a significant body of work with evidence that the percentage of the component of the Legislature’s budget as part of our national budget has been on a downward trend over the past decade, despite inflation and the expanding role and relevance of honourable members in the lives of citizens. It currently stands at 0.5% of the Federal.