Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
As the N60 billion budgeted for Sports Utility Vehicles, SUVs for members of the National Assembly, continues to generate controversy and public outcry, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the February 25 poll, Mr Peter Obi, has said that nobody would have contemplated spending such a stupendous amount of money on lawmakers’ cars under his watch.
Obi who took to his X (formerly Twitter) handle to bare his mind, said it was regrettable for the President Ahmed Tinubu-led administration to place the pleasure of the ruling class above the interest and basic needs of the Nigeria masses.
He said it was a misplacement of priority to sacrifice the critical areas of development measurement on the altar of needless pleasures.
“The recent expenditure of N60 billion for the purchase of SUV vehicles for about 400 legislators is a continuation of the troubling trend in our nation today. We have continued to abandon the critical areas of development measurement while expending scarce resources on needless luxury and creating comforts for those elected to serve the people.
“Our primary healthcare, which is the foundation of health, a critical development index measure, has collapsed, leading to our surpassing India, a country 7 times our population, in infant mortality, a very saddening situation. To allocate such a huge amount, which is more than what we allocated to our primary health care, is nothing but troubling. One third of that amount, with proper negotiation, would have given them, locally manufactured SUV vehicles from Innoson Motors, PAN or any local auto assembly plant, to help boost our economy and create and retain jobs. Upon my being sworn in as the then Governor of Anambra State, I observed that our State High Court Judges, State Government Permanent Secretaries and newly appointed State Commissioners had no vehicles. Anambra State Government had then ordered for two bullet proof SUV vehicles for my use. I cancelled the order and used the same money to negotiate a concessionary pricing with Peugeot Automobiles to supply us Sixty 406 vehicles which were enough for all the cabinet members including myself and my deputy governor. We used the vehicles for our first tenure and were able to commence the work of doing more in the areas of health, education and lifting people out of poverty.
“Nobody would contemplate this kind of expenditure under my administration. I urge all involved to depart from this path of wastage of public resources.
“A more prudent and transparent Nigeria is possible,” Obi said.