From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
MEMBERS of the House of Representatives are still sharply divided over which car to purchase for official use, Daily Sun learnt.
According to sources at the Executive Session of the House yesterday, lawmakers deliberated on different issues with questions arising on why the leadership of the House settled for the Nigerian made Peugeot 508, rather than the more prestigious Toyota Prado Landcruiser SUV, which is the preferred choice of the Senate.
Daily Sun also gathered that lawmakers, many of whom are now in possession of the 2016 budget details, took turns to express grievances over the spread of constituency and zonal projects.
The lawmakers also raised objections to Abdulmumin Jibrin’s position as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, demanding that he be removed to salvage the reputation of the House which, they insisted, had been severally damaged by the controversies that surrounded the 2016 budget. Jibrin, who was not at yesterday’s plenary, has been accused of allocating projects worth N4 billion to his Bibeji/Kiru Federal Constituency.
Only few minutes into the commencement of plenary yesterday, Speaker Yakubu Dogara called on the House Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila to move the motion for the House to go to an executive session.
An hour and half later, when the House reverted to plenary, Dogara did not speak on what was discussed even as lawmakers displayed conviviality, most of them chatting in clusters and back slapping.
But Daily Sun learnt that the executive session was characterised by complaints as lawmakers took turns to say that they have been shortchanged with regard to the spread of constituency projects.
Many lawmakers pointed fingers at principal officers who they said cornered projects that should have been shared to other constituencies in their states and zones.
A lawmaker, told Daily Sun that majority of lawmakers weren’t disposed to the purchase of SUVs owing to the reduction of the allocation to the National Assembly from N150 billion in 2014, N120 billion in 2015 and to N115 billion, this year.
“If you look at what has happened in the last three years, I don’t think lawmakers should still be talking about what kind of car we should be given. This year we have only N115 billion as allocation, where do they expect the leadership of the House to get money to buy SUVs?
He also said that members were disappointed that the tradition of principal officers influencing allocation of more money for projects in their constituencies and zones to the detriment of others was still the practice.
“People are really disappointed that the culture of principal officers taking a lion share of constituency projects , leaving those in their states and even their geo-political zones with almost nothing is still the order of the day.
“We thought that part of the change the All Progressive Congress government is talking about also has to do with transparently spreading constituency projects. But the contrary is the case and people made their feelings known about this.”