A Senator on Tuesday defended purchase of 2023 model of the Toyota Land Cruiser Sports Utility Vehicles for 107 Senators at N160million each.
Speaking to reporters at the National Assembly, Abuja, the chairman, Committee on Senate services, Sunday Karimi (APC, Kogi West) said the criticisms were uncalled for as members of the other arms of government used similar vehicles.
According to Karimi: “A Minister has more than three land cruisers, prado and other vehicles and you are not asking them questions, why us?
“The issue of buying vehicles for National Assembly members, you know it is a reoccurring issue. It occurs every assembly, it will always come up.
“If you go to State Houses of Assembly today, check out, most of them before they were even inaugurated, the Governor would have bought vehicles for them even local government chairmen. I drove the vehicle my local government chairman uses. So, why National Assembly?
“These vehicles that you see, go to Nigerian roads today, If I go home once, my senatorial district, I come back spending a lot on my vehicles because our roads are bad.”
Karimi said the Senate settled for Toyota Land Cruiser against a locally assembled product after comparative analysis of cost, technical issues and durability on Nigeria roads.
“We want something that we can maintain for another four years. It is not the decisions of the senators alone, we did an analysis before arriving at Land cruiser,” he said.
On the issue of cost, Karimi said: “When I came to the Senate, when they gave me their liability, they have a liability of over N16 billion that is made up of different things including vehicles purchased for members of 7th, 8th and 9th assembly.
“If you are a businessman and you supply vehicles for somebody in 2014 or 2015 or so and up till now they are owing you. I am not trying to defend anybody.
“If a Land Cruiser in the market let say it is A cost, you don’t expect somebody that will supply it to supply it at the price they are selling it in the market.
“It has to leave a margin and the civil service rule for supply allows for 25 per cent margin, plus 7.5 per cent VAT. Out of that 25% margin, they will still remove 5% tax from it.
“You are telling someone to supply when the clients may even end up not making payment for three years and you want him to supply at the price they are selling in the market, it is not possible.”