Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate, yesterday, dismissed public condemnation of its planned purchase of sports utility vehicles (SUV), pegged at N5.5 billion, for lawmakers.
Leader of the Senate, Abdullahi Yahaya, made the remarks when he addressed newsmen in Abuja. He said the status of a senator was not undeserving of a SUV.
There are 109 senators. All the senators would be entitled to one SUV, the cost of which the leader said would be paid back at the end of their legislative assignment in 2023.
There are no records that similar vehicles purchased for senators in 2015 at N36 million each were deducted from their salaries.
According to Yahaya, the burden on the shoulders of a senator was not a mean task and a SUV for their work was not too much.
Yahaya said: “What is the problem there? It is an insult to say that a senator of the Federal Republic cannot ride a jeep in Nigeria. It is an insult.
“The N5.5 billion is from the National Assembly fund and it is budgeted for every year, which they will pay back at the end of their tenure.
“I was a permanent secretary. I know what ministers get. We cannot even compare ourselves with ministers because we are higher than a minister.
“For you to say that a senator of the Federal Republic cannot drive a jeep today, come on, that is an insult.
“Go and tell the people that the work that we do is more than the work of ministers. The weight that is on me today, there is no minister of the Federal Republic that has it.”
The leader of the Senate said the collapse of the local governments across the country has placed a lot of burdens on Nigerian senators who carry loads ordinarily outside their purview.
He said the ninth Senate would ensure the independence of the local government structure to boost national development and stability of the economy at the grass roots.