The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, a coalition of over 400 grassroots organisations, has described as “ungodly” and “criminal”, the latest acquisition of new Toyota Land Cruiser automobiles by members of the Nigerian Senate, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy all his powers to stop the “hedonistic acquisition in these lean times”.
In a statement signed by its chairman, Ibrahim Zikirullahi, on Wednesday, the group said the senators circumvented extant procurement laws and the Fiscal Responsibility Act in acquiring the exotic vehicles.
The Senate has come under intense criticism following reports that the top lawmaking body has started taking delivery of 108 four-wheel drive Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles.
The Senate says it purchased 36 units of the vehicles at N36.5 million each, an amount many Nigerians say was inflated.
“The gluttonous manner in which less than 500 individuals are cornering the resources of a country where poverty and many other forms of privations are the order of the day, calls for concerted efforts among citizen groups, to reject the reign of these thieves garbed in legislative robes,” TMG said in a statement.
“TMG is incensed that at a time Nigerians in many states are grappling with the difficulties of living life without salaries, and the dire economic conditions biting so hard, it is provocative for Senators to be living in criminal opulence. Ironically, this is the same Senate led by a character currently standing trial over weighty allegations of false and anticipatory declaration of assets. It is the same institution that has been hijacked by shady figures, including their leader who has also been mentioned as one of those hiding suspicious assets in offshore tax haven, as revealed in the leaked Panama Papers. In defiance to extant procurement laws and the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Senators have gone ahead to acquire the cars at prices that are twice the actual market value. It is barefaced stealing from the Nigerian people for the Senate to have paid N35.1 million for each of the Toyota Landcruiser purchased, while independent checks confirmed that the Toyota Land Cruiser SUV V6 2016 model is sold at N17 million.
“To show that the greed of these characters is limitless, TMG recalls that in February, the Senate President’s cars were changed in a move that cost taxpayers the sum of N330 million. The architects of these wasteful expenditures on fancy items in a time of hardship, are the enemies of the Nigerian people. Those who arranged and benefited from this rude plunder of scarce resources must be investigated and brought to book.
“Nigeria can no longer afford to shoulder the burden of funding the wasteful and opulent lifestyles of a few hundred legislators, many of who suffer from severe reputation deficit. It is indeed worrisome that the gluttons in the National Assembly cannot spare a thought for the millions of unemployed young Nigerians in the country, and make some sacrifices to free some resources, for this excluded and vulnerable segment of the population. In the face of this unconscionable affront, the silence of many legislators, who should ordinarily be condemning this impunity is deafening. Suddenly, we are not hearing any partisan bickering in the Senate over this latest ungodly attempt to share the national patrimony.”
Mr. Zikirullahi, therefore, called on the president to take all measures to stop the purchase.
“With the logic that exceptional times require exceptional measures, TMG calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to take all necessary measures to stop the corrupt and insensitive purchase and distribution of these vehicles by the Senators. Provocative steps like this insensitive purchase and distribution of exotic cars in the face of the current economic struggles remind us of the urgent need to vanquish all forms of corruption and greed from the system. This is why the vendors involved in these shady supplies should be investigated because they are also aiding and abetting the corrupt and wasteful spending by the legislators. TMG again calls on the Nigerian people to brace up for the coming struggle to confront legislative greed, impunity and corruption,” Mr. Zikirullahi said.
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