Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas has said the purchase of 508 Peugeot cars for lawmakers was for national interest.
Namdas in an interview with Punch said the acquisition N6.1bn cars was a global practice, stating that the lawmakers need the cars for oversight functions.
He said, “People should get this thing right; the order for the cars was not recent. The issue of 360 cars has been there in the last nine months. We actually took delivery of 50 of the cars about nine months ago. The additional 200 cars that were supplied lately came in batches. It has been an ongoing process. The vehicles are meant for the utility services of members; for example, committee work. It is known everywhere that parliamentarians undertake what is called oversight functions.
“An oversight function requires moving from one place to another and, therefore, we need these utility vehicles. Members of the National Assembly and, in this case, the House of Representatives, belong to many committees. Their attention is needed once in a while to visit one project site or another. They cannot go on such a visit on foot. They will need to use vehicles. This practice is not exclusive to the National Assembly. Members of the state Houses of Assembly also embark on such visits and they also require utility vehicles.”
The lawmakers added that the 8th Assembly had to buy new cars because it is totally different from previous legislators.
He said, “There is the need for us to educate our people very well. Every House is different from the last one. That is why we have first, second, third, and now the eighth Assembly. The next House, the ninth House, will be an entirely new one. The National Assembly is dissolved every four years and re-inaugurated. So, you cannot say because somebody was here last year, he should not use another car. What is important is that every House is a new House and all the members have to use utility vehicles.”
He also denied that some lawmakers keep the cars as their personal property instead of using them for official purposes.
“That is not true. How many MDAs have vehicles that will carry members of the National Assembly? How many vehicles do they have that are in good shape to the extent that they can convey us to project sites? To be fair to us, we are using our vehicles — and in some cases, National Assembly vehicles — to do our oversight functions. What is happening is a case of giving a dog a bad name and hanging him,” Namdas said.