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N40bn Exotic SUVs: HURIWA slams National Assembly; warns lawmakers against provoking civil upheavals

The disclosure by the media that the Senate and House of Representatives would soon expend over N40 billion to purchase vehicles for lawmakers in the Red and Green Chambers of the National Assembly, has been described as vexatious, shameless show of recklessness, irresponsibility and irrationality by the political elite of contemporary Nigerian society by Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), reports News Express.


It was learnt that no fewer than 107 units of the 2023 model of the Toyota Landcruiser and 358 units of the 2023 model of Toyota Prado would be procured for the use of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively, even as the planned purchase was different from the official vehicles expected to be purchased for the four presiding officers of the National Assembly. These are President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abass; Deputy President of the Senate, Jibrin Barau; and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu.


Vexed by this show of shame by the Leadership of the 10th session of the National Assembly, HURIWA has condemned the proposal as “insensitive plan in the face of the unprecedented rate of poverty and unemployment tearing millions of citizens apart and sending hundreds of thousands of Nigerians to their early graves.”


HURIWA said it was inconceivable that the politicians elected to make laws for the good governance of the society could be “this crudely heartless,” even when the highlights of the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index survey revealed that: 63% of persons living within Nigeria (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor.


The group, quoting the government’s statistical report on poverty, stated that the National MPI is 0.257, indicating that poor people in Nigeria experienced just over one-quarter of all possible deprivations. 65% of the poor (86 million people) live in the North, while 35% (nearly 47 million) live in the South. Poverty levels across States vary significantly, with the incidence of multidimensional poverty ranging from a low of 27% in Ondo to a high of 91% in Sokoto.


The report further disclosed that over half of the population of Nigeria are multidimensionally poor and cook with dung, wood or charcoal, rather than cleaner energy. High deprivations are also apparent nationally in sanitation, time to healthcare, food insecurity, and housing.


HURIWA said further that it would amount to mindless abuse of power and a negation of the constitution if the elected legislators were left to continue to embark on spending spree to service their insatiable whims and caprices whereas millions of Nigerians were going through excruciating pains imposed on them by the singular but unjustifiable and heartless policy of sudden withdrawal of petrol subsidy by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The group accused Tinubu of failing to concentrate on reviving local refineries but has rather decided to fritter N500 billion in the guise of sharing N8,000 per month for 12 million poor families in a nation with over 130 million multidimensionally poor households, just as the same administration has earmarked N70 billion for less than 400 Nigerians who are National Assembly members and then another N30 billion to justices of the courts of Nigeria in what is regarded as an attempt to bribe them and secure victory in the election petitions challenging his declaration as the winner of the February 25th Presidential Election.


HURIWA recalled that media investigations revealed that the Senate Committee on Services, saddled with the responsibility of purchasing vehicles for lawmakers, would handle the negotiations and take delivery of them.


Senate President, Akpabio, had, during the week, constituted the Committee on Senate Services, headed by Kogi West Senator, Sunday Karimi.


Besides, a market survey carried out by a media house showed that the least amount for a 2023 model of Toyota Land Cruiser is N125 million. For the full option of the same brand, it goes for as high as N135 million.


HURIWA has however warned the National Assembly not to push Nigerians to the walls, saying that if the Federal government continues to unleash poverty-inflicting austerity measures in line with the dictates of the World Bank and the IMF and the political leaders continue to fritter public funds to service ostentatious lifestyle, then the elite were simply poking their hands in the eyes of the masses and challenging them to do their worst.


The rights group reminded the politicians of the consequences of not heeding to the voice of reason because of the possibility of public angst boiling over onto the streets and precipitating uproarious riots. “This is why we are calling on the politicians at both the executive and legislative Arms of government to become responsible and be sensitive in the manner they deploy public funds,” HURIWA said.


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