14th February, 2012
Barring all unforeseen circumstances, our 109 senators are expected to take delivery of their official Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs this week.
The cost per unit of the vehicles which is the 2011 model was put at $100,724. When converted to naira, it is N16,115,840 per vehicle. The total cost of the vehicles for the senators has been put at over N1.7 billion.
Senators, it was learnt, opted for the Land Cruiser SUVs because of its unique features. In the last Senate (sixth), members settled for the latest Toyota Camry sold at a unit cost of N9 million.
Apart from this, there is also the unsettling report that despite the grinding poverty in the land accentuated by the increase in the price of petrol from N65 a litre to N97 a litre, furnishing of offices of senators will commence this week. Contracts for the supply of refrigerators, computers and other office equipment, it was learnt, has already been awarded.
It is baffling that just a month after fuel subsidy strike by the Nigerian workers to protest government’s insensitivity to their plight, our representatives in the upper chamber of the National Assembly will embark on this profligacy that negates government’s promise to cut down on the huge cost of governance and free more money for development.
In the heat of the strike by workers and the masses to protest petrol subsidy removal, President Goodluck Jonathan, in his attempt to emphatise with the people, directed a 25 percent cut in the basic salaries of political office holders and promised to reduce the cost of governance further in order to release more money for infrastructure development.
We are at a loss over what could have informed our senators’ decision to embark on this obscene financial profligacy when an average Nigerian lives on less than two dollars (N300) a day. We are confounded by the insensitivity of our ‘esteemed’ lawmakers to the plight of the average Nigerian who lives in abject poverty.
How can lawmakers elected by the masses justify this huge expenditure on cars when an average Nigerian can barely feed himself? Where is the sense in riding a N16 million car in the midst of hungry people?
We ask: what is the sense in budgeting N1.7 billion on cars when the roads throughout the country are hardly passable and begging for serious attention? Where is the sense in acquiring N16 million luxury on wheels when electricity supply to homes is still epileptic and people cannot sleep because of insecurity in the land? We make haste to say that our people are very patient, they are not stupid. When the time comes, they will fight for themselves.
Our sincere advice to the senators is to make sacrifices in the spirit of the current belt tightening measures of the government by rejecting these costly cars. They should go for something less and save the money for the rehabilitation of roads, electricity and health facilities that will benefit the masses. This is the patriotic thing to do at this period.
Senators should be considerate and accord more priority to service to the people instead of ostentatious living that their present action portrays.