Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, will be receiving 10 new exotic vehicles for his convoy at over N300 million, as part of a multibillion naira illegal automobile acquisitions by the National Assembly management, for senators, PREMIUM TIMES can report today.
The purchases are coming despite the difficult economic situation Nigeria continues to face, with workers unpaid for months in some states, and governors considering reducing the national minimum wage or sacking civil servants.
The acquisitions are also coming at a time National Assembly support staff have yet to receive their November salaries.
PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported how despite cash crunch facing the nation, the Nigerian Senate concluded plans to buy top-of-the-range vehicles for its president, Bukola Saraki, and 108 other senators.
The contract was estimated at nearly N5 billion. But new details computed after the publication, show the actual amount would be in excess of that amount.
We have also obtained tender documents indicating that the deputy senate president, Mr. Ekweremadu, will be receiving 10 new vehicles for his convoy, the number Mr. Saraki is getting.
The cars include a Mercedes Benz S550, 4 Toyota Prado Jeeps, 4 Toyota Hilux vans and a Toyota Hiace Bus.
The market survey conducted by this paper show that the Senate will be spending about N329.5 million on Mr. Ekweremadu’s convoy alone.
A Mercedes Benz S550 2016 goes for $95,650, which translates to N23, 912,500 and addition of 105 percent (duty, levy and profit margin) takes the total cost of the car to about N49, 020,625.00.
For the Toyota Prado SUVs, each unit costs $73,000, which equals N18,250,000, while a 105 per cent addition of levy, duty and profit would put the cost of each at N37,412,500.
The total cost of the four Prado Jeeps being acquired for Mr. Ekweremadu is N149, 650,000.00.
Also proposed for the deputy senate president’s convoy are four Toyota Hilux SS, Auto vehicles, each costing $50,150.
At N250 to the dollar, each Hilux Van would cost N12, 537,500 and an additional 105 percent would raise the price of each unit to N25, 601, 875.
The sum of the proposed four Hilux brands is N102.4 million.
The last vehicle under consideration is a Toyota Hiace Bus 2016 model, which by our findings, could go for as high as N28.4 million.
The acquisition of cars for senators is a violation of the monetisation policy of the federal government, which debars government bodies from purchasing vehicles for its officials.
The policy instead allows public officers and political office holders to receive 250 per cent of their annual basic salary as motor vehicle loan, which translates to N5.07 million for each senator.
Our sources at the National Assembly said the Senators got these loans before also proceeding to acquire these new Toyota Land Cruisers.
Also, like Mr. Saraki, the 10 vehicles proposed for Mr. Ekweremadu far exceeds the six allowed the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission for the two offices respectively.
Individually, they are entitled to two official cars, one pilot car, one protocol/press car, one ambulance and one security car.
In its response to our earlier story, the senate struggled to justify the purchases, claiming the vehicles would serve committee needs, a deceitful argument the Senate and the House of Representatives have used in the past to defend similar procurements.
The spokesperson for the Senate, Aliyu Abdullahi, said in a statement on Sunday that it became necessary to replace Mr. Saraki’s vehicles because he was using his personal vehicles and older brands inherited from his predecessor.
“With respect to the official vehicles of the Senate President, it should be noted that majority of the vehicles in his convoy are his personal vehicles while some of the vehicles that he inherited, including his official vehicles and the backup car, are so old that they are already developing faults and not fit for long journey.
“We can recall that on several occasions, his official car broke down. Three instances will suffice here. I remember on a visit to Nasarawa state for a wedding of the daughter of a colleague. Other occasions were at the National Mosque three weeks ago and at the Abuja airport.
“The implication is that the vehicles in his official convoy are so old that they are already causing embarrassment for the Senate. The media should know that a man of his antecedent will not at this point be excited with purchase of new cars. His official cars are really long overdue for replacement,” Mr. Aliyu said.
Mr. Aliyu could not be reached for comments regarding the purchases for Mr. Ekweremadu.