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Lawmakers violate the law in vehicle purchase

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By Abraham Adekunle

Nigerian federal lawmakers bought SUVs for each of themselves.

The National Assembly of Nigeria has announced that it is buying operational vehicles for its 469 members, even though the cost is above the package prescribed for the lawmakers by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). Previously, the federal lawmakers had rejected cheaper Sedan and Saloon cars and chosen expensive luxury sport utility vehicles (SUV) instead. This is in violation of the revenue package put together for them and other public office holders by the RMAFC.

According to Section 84 of the Nigerian 1999 constitution, the RMAFC is given the mandate for determining the salaries and allowances of public officials, including members of the National Assembly. “There shall be paid to the holders of the offices mentioned in this section such remuneration, salaries and allowances as may be prescribed by the National Assembly, but not exceeding the amount as shall have been determined by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission,” it reads.

Senators and honourable took more money than prescribed by law.

In the discharge of that responsibility, RMFAC publishes details of the remuneration package for political, public and judicial office holders. According to the last list published in 2007, members of the National Assembly are not entitled to operational vehicles, but rather an optional car loan that must not exceed 400 percent of their annual basic salaries. A senator gets an annual basic salary of N2.02 million. Therefore, they are entitled to a car loan of not more than N8.1 million, which is 400 percent of their basic salary.

By the same calculation, a member of the House of Representatives whose annual basic salary is N1.9 million can draw a car loan from the National Assembly not exceeding N7.9 million. Surprisingly, members of the 10th National Assembly, despite the tough economic situation Nigerians are grappling with, have jettisoned the recommendation of the RMFAC and instead opted to buy luxury vehicles as operational vehicles for “legislative oversight.” Many Nigerians have described that move as insensitive.

These lawmakers can own the vehicles if they pay off the National Assembly.

Akin Rotimi, spokesperson of the House of Representatives, in a statement he issued on Sunday, said that the lawmakers can also take away the vehicles at the end of their tenure in 2027 if they pay off the National Assembly. He said that for the duration of the 10th assembly (2023-2027), the vehicles remain the property of the National Assembly. “At the expiration of the tenure of the 10th Assembly in 2027, should the extant assets deboarding policy of government still be in place, honourable members may have the option of making payment for the outstanding value of the vehicles to government coffers before they can become theirs, otherwise it remains the property of the National Assembly,” he said.

Despite the clear provisions of the constitution to the contrary, the National Assembly has always arbitrarily fixed for themselves allowances far above what the RMFAC prescribes. In July 2023, the Senate shared N2 million to each member as recess allowance against the 10 percent of annual basic salary prescribed by law. In 2015, the Senate had spent N4.7 billion on cars for members, snatching for themselves scarce funds that could have been spent on vaccinating new-borns and saving them from dying or providing electricity for remote communities where kids do school assignments using paraffin lamps.

They could have patronized local brands in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the decision of the federal lawmakers to buy foreign brands has also drawn criticism from Nigerians, who complained that the lawmakers could have patronized Nigerian brands to boost the local automobile industry. The Centre for Social Justice, in a statement on Tuesday, said that the lawmakers exported jobs by ordering from foreign brands instead of local brands. Speaking in the same vein, Oluwatobi Ajayi, the CEO of Nord Motors, an indigenous local automobile company, took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to express his dissatisfaction with the action of the lawmakers by ordering foreign bands.

Related Link

National Assembly: Website

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