The House of Representatives has said it is not distributing the exotic official cars purchased for members as it is the wrong time to do so. The House said it is rather supporting the fight against coronavirus pandemic.
While Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu, in a statement issued on Friday did not deny delivery of the cars, he stated that the lawmakers were not sharing them, taking into cognisance the mood in the polity.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Friday that the House had begun taking delivery of the Toyota Camry 2020 model acquired for members as official cars, otherwise called utility vehicles.
Our correspondent has sighted some of the cars at different parking lots of the National Assembly Complex.
The House had held an executive (closed-door) session on February 5, 2020, where members resolved to purchase 400 pieces of the exotic car.
The chamber has, however, kept mum on the cost of each unit as the contract for the supply was not awarded to accredited Toyota dealers.
Our correspondent had observed that the House procured the V6 Limited Edition variant of the car.
Giving a breakdown of how the vehicles are shared, a member of the House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the 400 saloon cars would be allocated to each of the 360 members and some top management staff, Chiefs of Staff to the (two) presiding officers as well as some of their special advisers and assistants will get some.
The lawmaker said new members who did not get committee appointments would be the beneficiaries of the first batch.
“I was told 100 have already arrived and they are sharing them to new members who are not chairmen and deputy chairmen (of committees). The next batch will be for returning (ranking) members who are neither chairmen nor deputy chairmen. The last batch will go to ranking member with appointments.”
Kalu, in reaction to the report, said,
“It has come to the attention of the House of Representatives that a newspaper report on Friday, March 27, 2020, had insinuated that the Green Chamber is distributing official vehicles for the 360 members of the House at this critical moment that the country is battling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This story is rather unfortunate at this time that Nigeria and Nigerians are striving hard to address the pandemic that has forced the Federal Government, and even the various states’ governments, to take drastic measures. Not only has the National assembly been closed since Tuesday, the 24th of March, in the wake of the pandemic, most lawmakers are also in their constituencies.
“As a House, we are not unmindful of the mood of the nation at this critical time and are committed to ensuring the country stands united in this trying times.”
Kalu noted it was out of the commitment that the House on Tuesday introduced and passed the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020. He recalled that the leadership of the National Assembly on Wednesday, about 24 hours after adjournment, engaged some top government officials in the executive arm and approved the release of N6.5bn for the National Centre for Disease Control and N10bn for Lagos State, as part of efforts to address the pandemic.
He said despite adjourning for two weeks to curb the spread of the virus, the House had expressed its readiness to reconvene at any time to consider measures aimed at addressing the situation, including a review of the 2020 Appropriation Act, “if need be.”
Kalu stated in part,
“We are committed, as lawmakers, to join hands with the executive arm to take measures aimed at containing the pandemic and providing succour to Nigerians as a result of the economic shock necessitated by COVID-19 all over the world.
“We, therefore, urge Nigerians to disregard the newspaper report on the vehicles’ distribution as it is mischief taken too far. The paper chose to ignore all the House did within this time – the special session on addressing the high number of out-of-school children, intervening in the strike action by FCT health workers, etc.
“We also call on Nigerians to join hands with governments at all levels in addressing the issue of COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s all adhere strictly to the preventive measures taken by the government.”
The cars, which belong to the National Assembly, are usually auctioned to the lawmakers after four years.
A check on the website of Toyota had shown that the price of the car, depending on the variants, is between about $25,000 to $35,000, excluding the cost of shipping and clearing at the port, which takes about 100 per cent of the actual cost of each unit.
For instance, those with a higher specification, as the National Assembly usually goes for higher range of vehicles, are XLE at $29,455, XLE V6 at $34,580, XSE at $30,005 and XSE V6 at $35,130.
Already, about 14 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado were said to have already been shared to the presiding and principal officers as well as chairmen of select House committees.
The Committee on House Services and the National Assembly Management, led by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, had constituted a joint committee to oversee the acquisition, verification and distribution to the lawmakers.
The Committee on House Services, which also exists in the Senate, serves as the protocol and welfare department.
The joint committee was set up as some members have decried that the National Assembly had been turned into a “dumping ground” for smuggled and refurbished automobiles.
Some of the Peugeot 508 cars delivered to the members of the House had developed faults barely 90 days after the automobiles, bought with N6.1bn, at N17m each, arrived in Abuja.
Members had started complaining of faults in the cars just weeks after taking delivery, especially electrical and mechanical issues.
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Poor network connection on Thursday prevented Nigeria’s President, Maj.Gen. (Retd.) Muhammadu Buhari, from addressing a United Nations virtual meeting.
Themed on finance for development, the meeting was convened by at the instance of the UN Secretary General, António Guterres.
Buhari’s connection from Abuja had hitches right from the start as he went on and off for seconds before the video connection went off completely, a report by PUNCH said.
He briefly highlighted the impact of COVID -19 on African countries and how the situation was making it difficult for Nigeria to fund the 2020 budget before he was disconnected by poor network connection completely.
The organisers quickly called on the Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayut Chan-o-cha, to make his own presentation.
Makinde to roll out first set of Digitized CofOs to mark one year in office
Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde will on Monday, June 1st 2020 distribute the first set of digitized Certificate of Occupancy to successful applicants under the Oyo State Home Owners Charter (OYHOC) scheme.
This land title document Made Easy Initiative is in line with the Engineer Seyi Makinde led administration’s promise to speed up the process of getting land title documents at an affordable cost and also within 60 days.
These title documents include Certificate of Occupancy, Deed of Assignment, Deed of Sublease and Deed of Mortgage Consents.
A release issued by the Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Barrister Abiodun Abdu-Raheem said the event which will take place at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan is part of activities commemorating the One year in office of the present administration.
He further explained that the programme which will hold at 12.00 noon would be done with strict adherence to COVID 19 safety measures which will, therefore, limit the number of applicants that will be invited for the symbolic presentation.
Barrister Abdu-Raheem also called on eligible property owners without title or approved documents to take advantage of the window of opportunity.
He encouraged people with outstanding applications to visit Room 4 of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, State Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan to find out the status of their applications with a view to ensuring they get their title document as this administration is determined to provide title documents within 60 days of application.
Applicants can also call 0700 696 52637 (0700 OYO LANDS) or send email to [email protected] to make any enquiries.
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