The National Assembly on Sunday, January 3, 2016 said it was willing to meet with president Muhammadu Buhari over his allegation that the legislators had budgeted over N47 billion for the purchase of exotic cars this year, adding that he would hold a closed-door session with them over the issue.
It would be recalled that during the President’s inaugural media chat, he enthused thus: “I can’t see the National Assembly spending more than N47bn to buy cars on top of transport allowance they collect.
“I have to revisit that story. The budget for their transport allowance comes up to N100bn. With the kind of money that goes into the National Assembly, we have to look at it conscientiously and see how we can live within our means.”
According to Punch, both the Senate and the House of Representatives have denied contemplating such a “mid-boggling expenditure.”
Speaking on the matter, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Leo Ogor, said the members of the House are eager to meet with the President over the “misinformation for the purpose of avoiding needless crises.”
He further asserted that: “There is no meeting fixed that I am aware of for now. But, as a House, we welcome discussions with Mr. President to avoid unnecessary frictions.
“We advise that, in keeping with the principle of separation of powers, he should read sections 4,5,6 and 80 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) jointly for clearer understanding of which arm of government has the power of appropriation.
“All that is contained in the entire budget remains a mere proposal until approved by the National Assembly the way it deems fit.
“The Presidency proposed to buy cars for almost N3.5bn, there is electrical wiring of almost N300m.
“There are so many proposals in the Presidency’s budget that we think should be subjected to thorough discussions. Some of the proposals in the Presidency’s budget may not even stand.
“Where we are not convinced, we will remove and take some sub-heads to areas we think they are needed.”
He went on to say that President Buhari made a wrong move by starting a media war with the National Assembly in his first media chat.
Also speaking on the matter, the Senate spokesperson, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, said: “We in the Senate are ready and prepared to meet with the President on the issue. There is no way we can exercise our legislative functions especially in the area of oversight, using our personal cars.
“We need official vehicles to move around the country because we do not have to rely on government agencies under our supervision for such logistics if we really have to carry out an unbiased exercise.
“Nigerians should also note that we are not asking for too much by requesting Sport Utility Vehicles as official vehicles because there is no senator or member of the House of Representatives that cannot afford one. So, to us it’s not a luxury but a necessity to do our work better.“