A Labour Party lawmaker in the Senate, Senator Neda Imasuen, has said it is unfair for Nigerians to criticize Labour Party lawmakers for not rejecting the plan by the National Assembly to buy Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) allegedly worth N160 million (US$370,000) for each lawmaker.
Imasuen, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, said the Labour Party has only eight senators and cannot sway the majority of lawmakers from backing down on the plan to buy luxury vehicles.
The plan by the National Assembly members to purchase SUVs, amid economic hardship in the country, has generated uproar in the country.
The National Chairman of the Labour Party, Julius Abure, had called on members of the National Assembly elected on the platform of the Labour Party not to partake in the “profligate spending,” which he described as “insensitive and wasteful.”
Abure said such spending did not align with the ideology of the Labour Party, which prides itself as a pro-people party.
But speaking with journalists in Benin at the weekend, Imasuen, who represents Edo Central in the Senate, said the Labour Party lawmakers are only eight in the Senate and cannot sway the majority of lawmakers from backing down on the plan to buy luxury vehicles.
“I want to say that I have not received any vehicle and none has been offered to me. However, we are in a democracy and where the majority will have their way and the minority will have their say,” Imasuen said.
“We can only say what we believe is the right thing to do in the parliament; we are just eight senators, amid 109 senators. So, those who have zeroed in on Labour Party senators. I think it is very unfair.”
“Assuming 109 vehicles are given to senators and eight rejected them, can you please tell me what significance that will be to the budget or the overall image of the National Assembly?” Imasuen asked.
“What I can say is that the Labour Party is not the proponent of this and we have made some inquiries and these seem to be the practice every four years.”
“What people don’t know is that senators are offered the right of first refusal after their tenure. If they don’t buy the vehicle, it goes back to the Senate.”
“It is supposed to be a working vehicle for senators. If we were to vote on it today, the eight Labour Party senators will vote against it but it doesn’t stop it because the 101 senators will vote yes. Even if we reject it, who takes it, will they return it to the manufacturers?” Imasuen added.