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Senators, Reps to spend N40bn on SUVs

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The National Assembly, which comprises the Senate and House of Representatives, is set to allocate over N40 billion for the purchase of vehicles for lawmakers, according to Saturday Sun. The Senate plans to acquire 107 units of the 2023 Toyota Landcruiser model, while the House of Representatives intends to procure 358 units of the 2023 Toyota Prado model. These vehicles will be exclusive to the senators and representatives, separate from the official vehicles designated for the four presiding officers of the National Assembly.

The Senate Committee on Services, headed by Senator Sunday Karimi, will handle the negotiations and delivery of the vehicles. The cost of a 2023 model of the Toyota Land Cruiser starts at N125 million, with the fully loaded option priced as high as N135 million, as revealed by a market survey conducted by Saturday Sun. In 2019, the Senate spent N50 million on each vehicle when the exchange rate was N306 to the dollar. Currently, the exchange rate stands at N770 to the dollar. A car dealer mentioned that the 2023 model is the second year of the current Land Cruiser generation and features updated adaptive variable suspension for enhanced riding experience.

The on-road experience will be significantly improved. All trims will include four-wheel drive, center locking, terrain camera view, and various other off-road capabilities. According to the car dealer, the new model offers features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a 10-speaker audio system, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, an 8-way power-adjustable passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, quad-zone climate control, wireless charging, and a head-up display.

The Senate Committee on Services is expected to oversee the purchase of two bulletproof vehicles for Akpabio and two for his deputy, Barau. The car dealer mentioned that the cost of a bulletproof vehicle manufactured in 2023 exceeds N300 million. If the current value of the naira does not improve, the price may increase. Saturday Sun has received reliable information that some House members believe that since senators use Toyota Landcruisers, it would be appropriate for House of Representatives members to upgrade to Prado jeeps. In the 9th Assembly, members of the Green chamber used Toyota Camry 2019 as their official vehicles. However, a trusted source in the House confirmed that there are plans to upgrade the official vehicles for members of the 10th House.

The initiative is being proposed by the National Assembly management. According to the source, the National Assembly management suggests that instead of Toyota Camry, members of the lower chamber should receive Toyota Prado as their official vehicles, especially considering that senators may receive larger vehicles this time, having received Toyota Landcruisers in the previous assembly. However, it should be noted that the House leadership has not finalized the proposal. Until the leadership gives its approval, no action can be taken. The source stated, “The House is not demanding the Prado. It is the National Assembly management that is making the proposal.

They want to deviate from the usual car (Camry).” “But the truth is that there is no agreement yet. It is still a proposal. It has not been approved. Until the leadership gives its approval, we might still stick to the normal (Camry).” However, an anonymous member of the House from a North Central state mentioned to Saturday Sun that he is not aware of any requests by lawmakers for Toyota Prado. Nevertheless, he stated that if it is approved, there is nothing wrong with members of the lower chamber receiving Toyota Prado as their official vehicles. He pointed out that even heads of agencies use Toyota Landcruisers.

The lawmaker stated that he has not attended any meetings where members expressed a desire for Prado vehicles. However, he believes that members of parliament deserve to have Prado SUVs as long as they are used for official functions.

The new Senate spokesman, Yemi Adaramodu, explained that funds spent on these vehicles are expected to be repaid by lawmakers throughout their term in office. Adaramodu emphasized that lawmakers require vehicles for their official duties, particularly for oversight visits, and dismissed the notion that the proposed N70 billion for palliatives would be used for purchasing vehicles. He clarified that these vehicle purchases are actually loans that lawmakers are expected to repay within four years. The attempts to contact the chairman of the House Ad-hoc Committee on Welfare, Wale Raji, were unsuccessful. The chairperson of the House Ad-hoc Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Khadija Bukar Ibrahim, stated that the House is currently focused on committee-related matters and that the issue of procuring vehicles has not yet arisen.

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