The Nigeria Labour Congress has called on senators who benefited from a recent purchase of 108 brand new Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles by the Senate to immediately return same or face the wrath of workers and civil societies.
The NLC said the action smacks of “insensitivity and reckless luxury” at the time the country faces economic crunch, with the 2016 budget still not passed.
“We consider appalling, insensitive and greedy the decision of the Senate to acquire 108 Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs (one for each member less the Senate president) after collecting car “loans” in August last year for the same purpose. It is equally morally despicable and shameful that they are doing this after publicly admitting that the standing committees of the Senate are unable to perform their statutory functions due to paucity of funds.
“We at the NLC equally consider it a wilful and grievous criminal act, the inflation of the unit cost of each of the cars by over a 100 percent, as each car supposedly cost N35.1 million instead of N17 million. Aside from this, Nigerians are keen to know from where they got money for the purchase of these cars without appropriation,” said the NLC in a statement, Monday, signed by Ayuba Wahab, factional president of the congress.
It argued that the defence offered by Aliyu Abdullahi, Senate spokesperson, was laughable.
Abdullahi was quoted to have said: “Special advisers use jeeps and why not senators, or do Nigerians expect them to trek to work? And in any case, cars are capital projects.”
But the NLC said “couldn’t this have been put to better uses such as the constituency projects of these same senators? At a time with severe economic challenges and deepening poverty in the land, can the Senate afford this level of reckless luxury and arrogance? The answer is, “No.”
The congress noted that the multiple acts of criminality, ranging from acquiring these cars after previously taking loans for the same purpose; spending money without appropriation and over inflating costs constitute not just corruption but a crime against the Nigerian people whom they claim to represent.
“Accordingly, we demand they return those cars to whoever supplied them or the appropriate agencies prosecute them for corruption. In the event none of this happens, they should be prepared to keep a date with Nigerian workers and their civil society allies, including market women and students,” the NLC said.