by Abdulaziz Abdulaziz
Nigeria’s National Assembly has paid out a total N6.6billion for purchase of exotic cars for its members, PREMIUM TIMES and UDEME can authoritatively report today.
Official documents obtained by this newspaper showed that the purchases were made by the three arms of the federal parliament—the Senate, the House of Representatives and the management unit of the lawmaking arm.
Records show that the Senate is the biggest spender, purchasing a total N3.2billion worth of cars from 10 different contractors.
The lower chamber followed closely, acquiring N3billion worth of exotic cars in 17 deals.
The management of the National Assembly wrapped up the car procurement extravaganza, taking delivery of N430million worth of cars using five different dealers.
The contractors who supplied the exotic cars to the Senate include Lanre Shittu Motors (N900million), Mushin Motors (N152million), Sunstar Integrated Services Limited (N136.4million), Assamad Procurement & Services Limited (N401.2million), Kaffe International Investment Limited (N115.4million), and Stable Technology Limited (N123million).
The upper chamber also bought cars from Dua Creations Limited (N77million), Swiftcode Technologies Limited (N181million), Frontline Infasys Ltd (N91.3), and Lachoso Engineering Systems Nigeria Ltd (N55million).
For its own share of the car bonanza, the House of Representatives turned to Wadatu Global Company Limited (N145million), Bimfirst Multiventures Ltd (N50million), Vish Integrated Service Limited (N50million), Pimpex Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd. (N145million), 3 Brothers Concept Nigeria Limited (N400million), Ideki Services Limited (N100million), Braimuh Nigeria Limited (N250million), Mahasam Nigeria Limited (N500million), Unified Marketing Limited (N145million), Hydofield Services Nigeria Ltd. (N60million), A.A. Marmaro Nigeria Limited (N111.4million), Auto Beauty (N97million), Southern Contractors (N50million), Nwezei Merchandised Limited (N50million), and Assamad Procurement & Services Nigeria Ltd (N60million).
Other contractors who supplied vehicles to the lower chamber are MNM Construction Ent. Services Ltd. (N100million), Jaaniyat Inter Concept Ltd (N60million), PAN Nigeria Ltd (N160million), D.C. Okika Nigeria (N60million), Paki Int’l Motors Ltd (N80million), Afric Capital Nigeria Ltd (N250million), Pranav Contracting Nigeria Ltd (N50million), Sure Delivery Nigeria Limited (N71million), Shazamzam Construction Ltd (N103million), Omatie Global (N366.1million), Bilmos Nigeria Ltd (N400million), and Clario View Nigeria Ltd (N52.5 million).
The federal legislature’s management unit bought its own N430million worth of cars from Omaiauto Ltd (N21million), M/S Atlantic Authos Ltd (N100million), Bestline Nigeria Ltd (N50million), Alheri Nigeria Ltd (N150million) and Autonorths Nigeria Ltd (100 million).
Investigations by this newspaper show that 30 of these contractors are not registered on the Bureau of Public Procurement’s database of federal contractors, indicating they are ineligible to be given jobs or paid any money from the federal treasury. Seven of the 30 are not even registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
This newspaper was able to establish that payments for the cars were made from an extra-budgetary N10 billion discreetly and curiously released to the National Assembly by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, under the guise of helping the lawmaking arm to settle its outstanding liabilities.
Two reliable sources in the National Assembly described the payments for the cars as a charade, saying they were made as part of arrangements to funnel bribes to some top officials of the National Assembly.
The National Assembly has its own block budget of N125billion from which it ought to pay for all its purchases and liabilities.
The illegal car procurements were made at a time Unicef said 10.5million Nigerian children were out of school due to what government blamed on lack of enough funds for the nation’s educational sector.
The purchases were also made at a time advocacy group, OneCampaign, said 2,300 Nigerian children under five die each day of preventable causes.
“You can reduce this by providing at least one percent of Federal Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund for basic healthcare,” the group said in an ongoing media campaign it is running.
This is not the first time the eighth National Assembly under Senate President Bukola Saraki is engaging in illegal car buying spree.
In December 2015, about six months after the inauguration of the Assembly, PREMIUM TIMES uncovered a plan by the lawmakers to buy cars worth N4.7 billion despite the harsh economic difficulty the country faced at the time.
The nationwide outrage triggered by that report did not stop the lawmakers from going ahead with the procurement.
In August 2017, the House of Representatives said it placed orders for N6.1 billion worth of new Peugeot 508 cars for all its 360 members.
President Muhammadu Buhari had vowed to stop the lawmakers from wasting scarce national resources on cars they were not entitled to.
Speaking during a presidential media chat, Mr Buhari vowed to fight the N4.7 billion car expenditure of 2015.
“If I can turn down N400 million for the presidency that I do not need any new car because of the economy, I can’t see the National Assembly spending that N4.7 billion to buy cars, on top of transport allowance they collect.”
Mr. Buhari did not however succeed as the lawmakers went ahead to acquire the cars.
In November 2016, a Lagos-based lawyer and activist, Malcolm Omirhobo, sued the National Assembly over the purchase of the cars, and alleged a breach of the Public Procurement Act.
He also asked the court to decide “Whether in the face of section 42 of the 1999 constitution, it is lawful for the defendants to use taxpayers money to purchase exotic and expensive cars considering the country’s economic situation.”
However, the unfazed lawmakers continued with their plans. The case is yet to be decided.
In a previous reports on vehicle procurement by lawmakers, PREMIUM TIMES established that the practice remained an illegality as it violates the monetisation policy of the federal government.
Under the policy, no vehicles should be purchased by any agency of government for use by officials.
Rather, public officers and political office holders are to receive 250 per cent of their annual basic salary as motor vehicle loans. But lawmakers have continued to benefit from the loan while also spending public funds on buying cars for themselves.
‘We’ve done no wrong’
Contacted by this reporter, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazaq Namdas, denied knowledge of the latest deal.
Mr. Namdas said the House is at liberty to buy “utility vehicles” for members “for the purpose of committee work”.
Reminded that it is illegal for the National Assembly to buy cars for use of lawmakers in view of the monetisation policy, Mr Namdas claimed the vehicles bought were for “official assignments”.
Asked if it does not amount to waste of public funds for cars meant for committee assignments to be given to individuals, Mr. Namdas said “If I am going for oversight, I cannot wait for my colleagues to give me lift”.
The Senate spokesperson, Abdullahi Sabi, could not be reached to comment for this story. His known telephone line was not reachable for many days. A text message sent to the line is yet to be replied.
What Nigeria can do with N6.6 billion
The N6.6billion being spent on cars by our lawmakers is N1.4 billion higher than the proposed amount for purchasing ammunition for the battle-stretched Nigerian Army in 2018. The amount is also thrice the budget for books and teaching aids for all government-owned universities in the 2018 budget.
It is also N2.4 billion higher than total allocation made to the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA). Nigeria’s financing of HIV/AIDS response, like other health sectors, is criticised by experts as grossly inadequate.
The expenditure on the vehicles equally outweighs total allocation to Nigeria’s premier anticorruption agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), in the 2018 budget proposal. It also outshoots the budgetary provision for the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs by almost N400 million.
The money can provide all the 77 federal government-owned universities, polytechnics and colleges of education with infrastructure or educational facilities worth N85.7 million each.
At least 660 communities can also be provided with potable water, at an average of N10 million for a motorized borehole.