#160m SUV: Reject or Accept, Labour Party Senators in Crossroads

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#160m SUV: Reject or Accept, Labour Party Senators in Crossroads

Elempe Dele

There have been several commentaries concerning the purchase of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for members of 10th National Assembly, which is said to be valued at #160 million for each one.

The issue has taken center stage in national discuss basically because at the moment, Nigeria is going through an oppressive economic situation, thanks to the unexpected removal of the fuel subsidy. Some argued that why such ostentatious spending which is considered waste when such funds could have been plugged into some interventions for the poor masses. Another school of thought felt even though the senators would be needing such utility vehicles, why not order from INNOSON Motors that is being assembled in Anambra to help grow our local economy.

Well, the ritual of buying this luxury cars did not start today, it has been on since. Every four year, these cars are purchased for elected members, new or old.

The ruling party, All Progressive Congress, APC, has been silent on the matter, so also is the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who’s tenure this licentious profligation started.

However, the Labour Party, LP, and its leadership are the only ones talking about the issue as all eyes on them. The reason for this is not far-fetched. The LP or a version of it popularly known as Obidient Movement, saw themselves or are seen as the famous youth inspired uprising against the political class in Nigeria.

This uprising in some quarter is seen as the subtle version of the French Revolution, a manifestation for the passion for change. It was a political testing of the status quo. In spite of that fact the movement could not sieze power at the center because as its first attempt, it lacked the required national spreed to do so, the movement was admired, depending on the perspective one looks at it. The movement elicited among political watchers some measure of admiration and as well as loathing.

The movement spread especially among the disenchanted youth in the cities down south, and the purpose was to undermine the fabric of the society as we used to know it. There were however repulsion based on manifested intolerance from some movement, but let us leave that for another day.

Like I said earlier concerning the purchase of the SUVs, the focus was on members of the movement who are in the National Assembly vehicle there through the platform essentially because of their indoctrinating zeal before the election.

The movement, as we noticed, was populated by all kinds of dissatisfied youths seeking radical answers to the inconsistencies in the nation concerning the management of the commonwealth. Members of the movement have one habit in common: they saw themselves as agents of a new illumination on the suffering and future of Nigerians. They profess a maxim, A New Nigeria is Possible.

They formed a very compact solidarity with themselves and spoke in the same way all marginalized speak in a community. Some saw them as social distruptive in nature because the mood they manifest was that of extreme militancy as they repudiate everything ostentatious, on papers.

The common hysteria some analysts connect to the movement is that chant that no one is innocent(this I have termed conscientization) which blinds the mind to other considerations.

This movement belong to a selected incorruptable rivivalist community of Nigerians since they preach that there are no innocent outside their membership.

They are expected to demonatrate a holy conviction in politics alone. Yes, they consider their conduct of the greatest value when it comes to political engagements. So the mantra was Nigeria has been robbed blind by past political actors or gladiators and must be restored to the rightful owners – the people.

However, there are inconsistencies in this illumination: The National Chairman, LP, Julius Abure, condemned the alleged N160 million vehicle to each of the members of the National Assembly. He urged members of LP to reject the gifts and described it as the height of insensitivity.

Meanwhile, on the other side, Mr. Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the LP, defended the purchase of SUVs for members of the national assembly. While responding to questions during the much publicized press conference on Monday, he said the cars are for official use. “Let me start with the issue of Labour Party members in the house. I have actually discussed this issue with them. Surprisingly, I can tell you I heard that these vehicles are official cars. They have to use it. It is meant for office. So it is not as if it is their vehicle. They said it is official cars and you are meant to use it while you are in the senate.”

There some issues that need clarification here; Did Peter Obi actually say he heard that the cars are for official use? Did he depend on hearsay? Is there any record that such cars were ever returned by members in the past? Could he not have suggested they ordered cheaper cars from INNOSON Motors from Anambra State? Is this not the same way wastages have been rationalized in the past? What then has changed?

An LP lawmaker in the Senate, Senator Neda Imasuen, criticized Nigerians for expecting them to reject the SUVs. His defence is this; “However, we are in a democracy and where the majority will have their way and the minority will have their say. We can only say what we believe is the right thing to do in the parliament; we are just eight senators, amid 109 senators…assuming 109 vehicles are given to senators and eight rejected them, can you please tell me what significance that will be to the budget and the overall image of the National Assembly? What I can tell you is the Labour Party is not the proponent of this and we have made some inquiries and these seem to be the practice every four years…” This was part of his defence while speaking to journalist in Benin recently.

Is it that the new illumination is gradually fading away now that it has been esconsed, settled, lodged, entrenched, parked, planted, established, nestled…in the corrupt system?

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