Labour Party lawmakers in the National Assembly have disregarded the advice given by the party’s National Chairman, Julius Abure, to abstain from participating in the purchase of official vehicles for legislators.
Abure had released a statement condemning the alleged plan by the National Assembly leadership to buy Sport Utility Vehicles worth N160m for each lawmaker. He described the plan as insensitive and condemnable given the dire economic situation in the country, urging lawmakers elected on the platform of the Labour Party not to be part of the profligate spending.
However, when asked on Thursday if LP lawmakers would comply with Abure’s statement, the lawmaker representing Delta Aniocha North and South, Ngozi Okolie, stated that Abure’s demands were unrealistic, mainly since he had not provided them with alternatives to carry out their job.
The LP lawmaker explained that the SUVs were necessary to aid their jobs as lawmakers, especially in regards to their oversight functions. Okolie argued that having one official vehicle as federal lawmakers wasn’t frivolous but a necessity.
Okolie also noted that Nigerians are quick to attack lawmakers over such things, while politicians at the state level get more benefits than federal lawmakers. She further stated that purchasing those vehicles was cheaper than hiring one every time they needed to go on an oversight.
Similarly, the lawmaker representing Igbo Etiti and Uzo-Uwani constituencies in Enugu State, Stainless Nwodo, commended President Bola Tinubu for approving such vehicles for lawmakers. Nwodo argued that the SUVs were meant for each constituency and not for personal use by the members. He further stated that they needed SUVs to navigate the bad roads in their constituencies when delivering benefits to their constituents.
Nwodo also questioned Abure’s criticism, asking if he had given them any vehicles to do their jobs or provided alternatives.
He argued that attributing the reason for not purchasing the vehicles to economic hardship was GZ blackmail. Nwodo concluded by saying that he would take the SUV and use it to deliver dividends to his constituents.
The lawmaker added, “I don’t want to believe the party’s chairman said so because did he give us any vehicle to do our jobs?
“Attributing his reason to economic hardship is pure blackmail. In the first instance, the vehicle is for each constituency, not the personal vehicle for the members.
“Also, we need these SUVs to ply the bad roads in our constituencies when we need to visit them and deliver goodies to them. This is why the Speaker and the Senate President decided that SUVs are better to visit our constituencies.
“My stance is that I will take the SUV and use it to deliver dividends to my constituents.”