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SUVs: Senators shun locally made automobiles

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By Bukola Olasanmi

The ad hoc Welfare Committee set up by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, did not recommend the purchase of Sports Utility Vehicles assembled by local firms as official vehicles for members.

The panel headed by Senator Abubakar Kyari was constituted immediately after the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly.

Our correspondent learnt that the panel allegedly rejected suggestions by some members to patronise local automobile firms.

The committee was saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the allocation of offices to members and determine loans for officials’ vehicles and accommodation.

A member of the panel told our correspondent on condition of anonymity on Thursday that the majority of those in the committee argued that they could not guarantee the quality of the vehicles assembled in Nigeria.

The source said, “It was true that we considered suggestions in some quarters to patronise the automobile firms in Nigeria but the fear of their products’ quality, stalled the plans.

“Since the vehicles would be given to members on loans,  we should be careful not to purchase vehicles that we may not be able to guarantee their quality and durability.

“There was a time that the House of Representatives purchased ‘Made-in-Nigeria’  cars for their members but we know the complaints that greeted the exercise.

“We want to avoid such situation that is why we settled for the importation of brand new jeeps that would meet the standard and specification of our members who would pay for them from their salaries and allowances.

Another member of the panel,  who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said arrangements for the purchase of the new vehicles would be concluded before the lawmakers resume on September 24.

It was learnt that the Senate was considering the purchase of Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs for its 109 members at an estimated cost of about N50m each.

The upper chamber would, therefore, require about over N5.5bn for the vehicles including a few additional ones for the Presiding officers.

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