Wednesday, 24 April, 2024

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N57BN SUVs: Senators, Reps insensitive, shameless, Nigerians blast lawmakers


NIGERIANS have risen in condemnation of the National Assembly’s decision to import 360 Special Utility Vehicles, SUVs estimated at N57.6 billion for Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, saying it was thoughtless and dishonorable of them.

Chairman of the Committee on Senate Services, Senator Sunday Karimi, who justified the decision, while speaking with reporters, Tuesday, in Abuja, wondered why Nigerians were picking on the lawmakers when ministers drive four official cars.

His words, “Somebody that is a Minister has over three Land Cruisers, Prado and other vehicles and you are not asking them questions, why us? “These vehicles that you see, go to Nigeria roads today, if I go home once to my senatorial district, I come back spending a lot on my vehicles because our roads are bad. “I said the decision that we took on using a Land Cruiser is for the cost and durability. Before they came up with this, it was not the senators’ decisions alone; we did an analysis before arriving at land cruisers. “It was based on a comparative analysis of the cost of technical issues and durability on Nigeria roads,” he explained.

Nigerians did not find Senator Karimi humorous, and came hard on the entire lawmakers for being inconsiderate and hard as nails given the prevailing financial quandary.

Lawmakers should resign–Ambakederimo, Convener, SSRG

The Convener, South- South Reawakening Group, SSRG, Elder Joe Ambakederimo, said: “Those who were governors, some few years back, are the ones now complaining of bad roads across the country, after claiming to have constructed world class roads while they held sway in their various states.

“I think this statement is self- indicting, and it is enough for a mass resignation of the National Assembly members. “They did not make the vehicles regarding the bad roads we have in Nigeria. They build SUV to provide maximum comfort for users; they, purposely, manufacture vehicles made for bad roads ruggedly.

“Therefore, it is a revelation now that they do not even know the use of the vehicles they sought to have. Going further, the move is very unpatriotic and every right thinking Nigerian should question it given the current economic stagnation and the impact of this capital flight on the economy.

“Sadly, this vehicle purchase imbroglio keeps rearing its ugly head every four years, and it does not seem it will stop. Therefore, it is my view that this matter should rest because those who came with the mantra to make a new Nigeria possible have shown no sign to reject the use of this type of vehicle.

“Also, those criticising the purchase may do the same when they find themselves in a privileged position.”

Legislative madness–Gbemre, activist

Similarly, the Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition, NDPC, Zik Gbemre, queried, “Is this craziness for a show of legislative force or legislative corruption? How dare federal lawmakers appropriate to themselves such new cars at such outrageous cost? “Is it not shameful for them to have behaved like drunken sailors sailing in a deep ocean? Have they lost their minds? No normal public office holder will approve new vehicles for themselves in a country where everything is upside down.

Why are labour leaders quiet? “This is enough for the unionists to declare a strike against the legislators for daring to approve new brand land cruiser jeeps where the people lack the basic things of life. “The entire country is in darkness because of the increase in the cost of fuel to run generators since power is not available for the people.

“Nigerians are suffering untold hardships. I am pained that Nigeria lacks leaders with conscience. Do they have family members? Are their family members comfortable with their decision to buy new jeeps when many Nigerians are suffering untold hardships? “Their legislative role is supposed to be part-time. What do they need new cars for, and so expensive? It is painful that the cost of governance in Nigeria is 100 percent higher than in any developed nation of the world.”

National disgrace- Onuesoke, ex-guber aspirant

Former Delta State governorship aspirant and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Sunny Onuesoke said: “If a lawmaker like Senator Sunday Karimi came out to say we should not criticize them because the roads are bad, I want to observe that there are some National Assembly members who have been there for four to five tenures. “How can you tell me that only SUV cars can withstand the roads that we have; that all the roads are bad? The National Assembly and the Executive have have shot themselves in the foot by admitting that the roads are bad.

“Who handles the roads? What are they using the taxpayers’ money for? They are telling Nigerians to be patient with the government, how can you be patient when you have corrupt leaders? Are we going to continue like this with this system in Nigeria? “What we are seeing is a national fallacy, a national disgrace. Every successive government at the federal level is worse than the one they succeeded.

“Any government that is coming is not coming for correction; they are coming for their own selfish interest. The cost of running government in Nigeria is beyond our revenue. What really matters is the discipline of the leadership.”

Nigerians being pushed to the wall–Alagoa, conservationist

Environmentalist, Comrade Alagoa Morris, asserted, “This political jamboree and animal farm scenario playing out need to be challenged by all legitimate means possible by the Nigerian people.

“These elected, privileged Nigerians ought to display how patriotic they are by sacrificing their comfort and ensuring that they fix the deplorable Nigerian roads, including the unparalleled insecurity.

“Servants cannot dictate to those who employed them. The Nigerian people are the employers of all legislators and the legislators cannot be in such luxury while the masses slide deeper into poverty. “They should be problem solvers and not comfort and pleasure seekers. I am afraid that the way things are going, Nigerians are being pushed to the wall.”

Heartless – Akene, CEPAD chair

The chairman, Centre for Environmental Preservation and Development, CEPAD, Surv Furoebi Akene, said, “It is quite unfortunate that we have people who are insensitive to the plight of the people they claim to be representing at the helm of affairs.

We all know that they are there for themselves and their families, so what happens to the other Nigerians no matter the situation, be it starvation, poor health, banditry, etc, is not their concern. “With the bastardised electoral system, unfair judiciary and the compromised security system; they feel that nobody can do them anything, hence the audacity. They are not leaders but maximum rulers.”

Ridiculous explanation – Clarkson, rights activist

A lawyer and minority rights activist, Amaebi Clarkson, opined, “The quest by the senators for SUV cars is the height of insensitivity to the suffering of the masses. Senator Sunday Karimi’s defence is not only outrageous, but expresses the contempt the ruling class has for the citizenry. At a time the leadership of the country is shamelessly going cap in hand begging for loans all over the world, our senators are displaying lavishness and to cruise with SUV cars.

The senators’ explanation is so laughable and seems to suggest that there is an unholy competition between the executive and legislative arms of government to fleece the country. “The senators need to tell us if the roads are deliberately kept in this state to justify this annual largesse.

The masses need to rise against the insensitivity of not only the senators but also the executive arm. “Unfortunately, the masses are so emasculated by poverty that they cannot even breathe, not to talk of standing up to these oppressive policies.”

I’m disillusioned – Peters, lawyer

An Akwa Ibom advocate and lawyer, Mfon Peters, retorted, “Most of them spend eight years in the Senate without sponsoring even one bill, without also affecting the lives of their constituents. In Nigeria, most constituents do not know or have access to their senators.

Therefore, it becomes a problem why we even send them there. “For a country that is already troubled because of the so-called removal of fuel subsidy, the senators are justifying why they prefer using SUVs. They are saying one of such reasons is because the vehicle can withstand the bad roads in Nigeria, so who is deceiving who now? “If the roads are bad, whose responsibility is it to fix the roads? Look at the Calabar-Itu road, passengers sleep on that road every day, but we have senators who should be able to tell the President, what is happening on that road.

“Now if you believe an SUV will help you drive on the Nigerian roads, what about the average person? Those who do not have SUVs would have to fly on the roads. When I listen to some of our senators speak, like the chair of the Senate Services Committee, his opinion is preposterous and it does not show that they have Nigerians at heart. The economy is in tatters, prices of commodities, goods, and services have skyrocketed; there is serious inflation in Nigeria as we speak, and our senators believe they need to drive SUVs, worth billions of Naira. It is pathetic.

“Yet, after four years, they will come back to seek votes they do not deserve. However, it is okay to let the electorate keep learning their lessons until they cast their votes and stand by the polling units to protect their votes. Some senators are a huge disappointment to this country and to Nigerians. It just shows the intellectual content of the senators that we have, it shows paucity of ideas and lack of concern for Nigeria’s predicament.”

Provocative–Okiemute, crusader

A campaigner in Delta State, Onoriede Okiemute, said the explanation given by the lawmakers for the vehicles was provocative, particularly coming when the government has told Nigerians to tighten their belts. “Because I support lawmakers driving good cars, they should have gone for locally manufactured vehicles. This way, they will also grow our sloppy economy,” he said.

Nigeria not a serious country – Prof Ofoeze

Professor of Political Science, Abia State University Uturu, Professor Hartz Ofoeze, said using money that can pay 12 professors for over two years to buy SUV for one lawmaker, is a sign of confused country. He, however, noted that the lawmakers are entitled to vehicles by virtue of their important position but argued that they should have, on moral grounds, volunteered to go for less expensive vehicle as a demonstration of their understanding of the plights of their constituents.

Professor Ofoeze said, “This is part of the reasons we are not regarded as a serious people. Yes, they (lawmakers) are entitled to have vehicles but I think Government should have been giving them car loans which will be deducted from their salaries.

“Again, spending such staggering amount of money on SUVs at a time when Nigerians are starving, smacks of insensitivity. Everybody is hungry; even those who are working are not paid; Nigerians are suffering, spending such money on cars is too much of a luxury. They should have gone for something lower. The truth is that such money being spent on the vehicles could have been ploughed into the education sector. One of them can pay for 12 Professors for more than two years.

According to Rev Joseph John Hayab, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kaduna State, “the function of the legislature is to check the executive but when the arm of government that should put the executive in check also wants to adopt the reckless life style of the executive then the people have lost representation. What Nigeria and Nigerians need today are selfless leaders not leaders who will continue to lord it over the citizens. “If our roads are bad and the Senate acknowledged it, then why not use the huge money to repair the roads so that everyone will be happy?”

“A nation where few privileged citizens only think and plan for their comfort and safety alone without consideration for the rest will remain insecure and poorly developed. “Our leaders seem to lack decorum in the way they talk to citizens and this is because citizens have lost their voices and power due to their greed for peanuts which they received from politicians during elections. Until and unless citizens get back their power and speak out in unison against this type of disrespect and lack of love for the country by some politicians, we will always have people in power talking to us as if we are fools, blind or we are their little kids who are yet to know the difference between our left hand from our right.”

Anthony NZ Sani, immediate past Secretary General of Arewa Consultative Forum( ACF), said “the purchase of SUV vehicles by members of the National Assembly suggests that they are not sensitive to the economic hardship most Nigerians are going through. “The lawmakers are not expected to have a standard of life that is above those of the citizens they are supposed to represent. What is more, the practice of buying vehicles for each member of the National Assembly negates the monetization policy of the government. National Assembly members and ministers are expected to use vehicles in the common pool for official duties”.

Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, Spokesperson of the Coalition of Northern Groups ( CNG), said, “it is no surprise that Nigerian senators have shown no remorse in squandering public funds on the purchase of luxurious SUVs. “This is an intimidation of the very people who elected them into office. It is unfortunate that many of those we have entrusted to represent us lack the necessary qualifications and skills to lead effectively.

Their primary motivation seems to revolve around personal ambition and accumulation of wealth. “This level of impunity, insensitivity, irresponsibility, and arrogance displayed by the senators, which has emboldened them to defend such purchase while the masses suffer is condemnable. The purchase of these extravagant vehicles by the senators is a clear reflection of their disregard for the plight of the people.

At a time when millions of households are plagued by daily hunger, when inflation is skyrocketing, unemployment is high and businesses are collapsing, it is utterly irresponsible for our elected officials to prioritize their own comfort and luxury. “The decaying state of infrastructure, the lack of employment opportunities for young Nigerians, and the exorbitant fees in hospitals further highlight the dire situation faced by the majority of the population. The lavish lifestyle of government ministers, some of whom possess multiple luxury vehicles, only exacerbates the issue. While the government urges citizens to make sacrifices, it fails to lead by example. The excessive number of ministers, coupled with their numerous aides, contributes to an exorbitant cost of governance that is both prohibitive and provocative. “This level of spending is simply unacceptable, as it further widens the gap between the ruling elite and the struggling masses”

“The Nigerian government must recognize that its primary responsibility is to serve the people and address their needs. The purchase of expensive vehicles and the indulgence in a lavish lifestyle only serve to alienate the government from the realities faced by ordinary citizens. It is disheartening to witness the lack of empathy and understanding displayed by those in power, who seem to have lost touch with the struggles of the people they are meant to represent.”

“It is imperative that the government reevaluates its priorities and focuses on serving the people rather than indulging in opulence. Only through responsible and accountable leadership can Nigeria hope to overcome its challenges and provide a better future for its citizens.”

Speaker of the Arewa Youth Assembly, Mohammed Salihu Danlami said, “The Arewa Youth Assembly, strongly condemn this insensitive move, we strongly believe that this extravagant life style of the lawmakers would be financed from loans collected from advanced nations that have learned to prioritise the welfare of their people. It is more annoying that this is coming at a time the government is telling the masses they can’t continue to subsidise fuel and other basic utilities, including much needed education for Nigerians. Since the senators are being paid monthly, they should finance their lifestyle with their earnings. “Nigeria, as Africa’s most populous country and one of the largest economies, is grappling with staggering inequality and widespread poverty.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, over 40% of Nigerians live below the poverty line, struggling to afford basic necessities such as food, healthcare, and education. One would expect that responsible representatives of the people should channel their energy towards budgetary processes that would solve these problems. A careful perusal of most of their zonal intervention projects reveals that it is just a conduit pipe for stealing from the poor.

The Arewa Youth Assembly therefore calls on lawmakers and the Heads of MDA’s to focus on fixing the nation’s dilapidated road networks instead of indulging in the purchase of luxury vehicles.

“The growing frustration, desperation, and disillusionment of Nigerians, burdened with poverty and inequality can lead to widespread public outrage if nothing urgent is done to ameliorate the situation. The purchase of SUVs for federal lawmakers has the potential to serve as a tipping point that could trigger a revolution. The consequences of such unrest would undoubtedly disrupt national stability, hamper economic progress, and undermine social cohesion. It is in the best interest of Nigeria’s lawmakers to heed this warning and reevaluate their priorities.”

Credit: Vanguard News Nigeria

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