The Senate on Wednesday described as insulting, the criticism that followed it plans by the National Assembly to buy Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for 469 members.
The Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for 469 lawmakers is estimated to cost N5.5 billion.
It would be recalled the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), and some individuals are already in court to challenge the decision of the leadership of the National Assembly on the planned purchased.
While reacting to the furore that greeted the plans, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the criticisms were unnecessary and “highly insulting” to status of the lawmakers.
According to him, every member of the two chambers of the National Assembly deserved to have a functional official vehicle.
He said: “To say that a senator of the Federal Republic cannot ride a jeep in Nigeria is an insult. The N5.5 billion is from the National Assembly fund and not money being sought from any other source. Besides, the scheme, as it has always been with previous Assemblies, is a monetised one requiring each of the lawmakers to pay back the cost of whatever vehicle given to them.
“The outcry over it is very unnecessary and insulting to the institution of the National Assembly and status of the federal lawmakers.
“When I was a Permanent Secretary, I know what ministers got. We cannot even compare ourselves with ministers; we are higher than the ministers.
“Go and tell the people that the work that we do is more than the work of ministers. As representatives of the people, the money we spend on daily basis on all forms of indigent people far outweighs whatever they as ministers or executive officers spend.”
Abdullahi said Federal legislature would be ready to engage any group of people on its operations and spending, adding that the actions of the National Assembly had always been in tandem with the principles of transparency and accountability.
“Each of the ministers moves in convoy of three to four utility vehicles without anybody raising an eyebrow, while some people, who, either as a result of ignorance or mischief, always cry to high heavens anytime the management of the National Assembly wants to buy just one utility vehicle for a lawmaker on the template of monetisation,” he added