Despite the economic challenges in the country which has left many Nigerians in a sorry state, members of the House of Representatives have started taking delivery of the 360 Peugeot 508 cars which will serve as their official cars.
According to Punch, it was discovered on Sunday, 13th November, that lawmakers in Abuja had already received 28 units of the Peugeot 508 series from the Kaduna-based Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited. The 28 were part of the first batch of 50 cars supplied by the company.
The House of Representatives allocated a whopping N3.6 billion for the cars in the 2016 budget at a unit price of N10 million. Speaking about six months ago, the lawmakers justified the purchase of the vehicles on the ground that they were from a Nigerian firm. It was also learned at that time, that the payment of the N3.6 billion would be spread across two years because the capital vote of the House in the 2016 budget was not enough to cover the cost of the cars.
Corroborating the previous information, a National Assembly top aide revealed on Sunday, that the arrangement with Peugeot was that the vehicles would be supplied in batches by the company as a result of the high number of members involved.
The source stated:
“Fifty cars will be supplied in the first batch; 28 have already been delivered. That was last week. Twenty-two more in the first batch are expected to be delivered this week.”
It was further gathered that the luxury cars would be delivered in Abuja in batches until January 2017 when all 360 members would have picked a unit.
Although about 223 members of the House came into the National Assembly for the first time in 2015, all 360 members will still be beneficiaries of the luxury cars, officially known as ‘utility’ or ‘committee’ vehicles.
A source made it known that it was originally planned that the delivery of the vehicles would begin in June 2016, but the delay in the passage of the 2016 budget affected it.
“The House was not sure of the provisions in the budget owing to the general drop in the revenue available to the Federal Government this year.
“So, they delayed it till the budget was passed before they continued with the procurement processing.”
The choice of Peugeot 508 series it was learned, was preceded by a lengthy disagreement among lawmakers.
It was learned that a lengthy disagreement among lawmakers preceded the choice of the Peugeot 508 series. While most of the new members preferred the 2016 Toyota Camry, others argued in favour of Peugeot 508 on the grounds of patronizing ‘Made-in-Nigeria products’.
Another legislative source added:
“Eventually, the argument was sustained that Peugeot should be the choice to encourage local automotive industry; though it would also appear that there was a comparative cost analysis.”
Speaking with Punch correspondents on Sunday, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, confirmed that members had started taking delivery of the vehicles. He disclosed that women lawmakers were the first to pick up their units, whereas the men would take their turn in the following batches.
Explaining why the purchase of the 360 exotic cars was necessary considering the national economic recession, Namdas said:
“This issue of cars is long overdue. They are not for luxury but for committee and oversight duties.
“The 8th Assembly is nearing two years, yet members have no cars to carry out their duties.
“Ministers and other officials in the executive have long bought vehicles for official duties.
“At the state level, members of House of Assembly have cars to carry out basic functions.
“I think it is only fair that members of the National Assembly will have utility vehicles for their assignments.”
He went on to say that the choice of Peugeot 508 was to “look inward such that Peugeot, which is locally-assembled, will benefit and grow.”