Members of the House of Representatives are enraged after the lawmakers could not take delivery of exotic cars worth about N6.1bn as official vehicles for the 360-member House.
Every four years, lawmakers get exotic official vehicles, better known as “utility or committee” cars, though the cars are more like the personal property of the legislators.
Investigations by The PUNCH on Sunday showed that after using personal cars to work or go on oversight duties for over two years, lawmakers had told the leadership of the House that they had had “enough of suffering.”
About 223 of the 360 members of the house were “freshers” who first came to the National Assembly in 2015.
The new members are said to be most pained as they have had to fuel personal cars for work since June, 2015.
In the days preceding the annual recess of the members on Thursday last week, The PUNCH learnt that the members had begun to demand explanations from the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.
However, the blame was placed more on the Chairman, Committee on House Services, Mr. Nasiru Baballe-Ila, than on Dogara, for the former’s alleged role in delaying the delivery of the cars.
Findings showed that the House had contracted Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited to supply 360 units of Peugeot 508 series late in 2015.
The company is allegedly supplying each unit of the exotic vehicle at N17m, leaving the House with huge budget of N6.1bn.
An official stated, “Right from when this arrangement started, there was an undertaking that the cars would be supplied in batches.
“The supply started initially with the female members in August, 2016, when the first 50 units arrived.
“Later on, we started noticing hiccups in the delivery of the cars as members got more impatient.
“More than two years into a four-year tenure, only 175 members have been supplied the cars. Others are still paying from their pockets to work and the suffering continues.
“Members are tired and they can no longer keep calm. It was learnt that the hiccups were caused by what the House later discovered to be ‘Peugeot’s lack of capacity’ to deliver the cars because of the huge number.
“It has got to a pathetic situation whereby members scramble for the few units that are delivered.
“As a matter of fact, they have been compelled to lobby the House Services Committee chairman so that they will be among the lucky ones to get the cars”, another National Assembly source informed The PUNCH.
It was gathered that members were particularly angry with Baballe-Ila for allegedly foisting the Peugeot brand on the House.
A source said, “It was the initial plan to go for either Toyota Land Cruiser Prado or Camry, which could be easily delivered.
“But it was Baballe-Ila who used his position as chairman to foist Peugeot on members. Now, Peugeot is unable to deliver the cars two years on.
“Matters came to a head last week just before members went on break as they asked Dogara to sack Baballe-Ila.”
Findings indicated that some lawmakers pointedly told Dogara that he ought to have tutored Baballe-Ila on how not to toy with members’ welfare, having been the Chairman of the House Services Committee in the 7th Assembly under Speaker Aminu Tambuwal.
When The PUNCH sought the views of the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, he merely said the Baballe-Ila committee was making efforts to ensure that every member got a car.
Namdas stated, “See, as I speak, I have yet to take delivery of a car. Truly, we all cannot get it at a go.
“The committee is working on it and I think very soon, the cars will go round. We just have to be patient.”
Namdas added that it was natural that people would make “simple enquiries” especially if some members were seen with cars and others did not have.
He described a recent meeting with Dogara, where members tabled the issues, as “our usual interactive session where members share ideas before going on their annual vacation.”
Efforts by The PUNCH to reach Baballe-Ila failed on Sunday.
He also did not respond to text messages sent to him by our correspondent.