Barring any last-minute changes, Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited will begin the delivery of 360 exotic cars to members of the House of Representatives from June, The PUNCH learnt on Tuesday.
Findings showed that each of the 360 lawmakers would have added a Peugeot 508 Salon car to their garages in the next two months.
The official tag for the vehicles is ‘utility/committee’, an indication that the cars are being bought for oversight duties as against being personalised by lawmakers.
The practice over the years was to personalise the utility vehicles.
Investigations showed that the House was undeterred by the uproar which greeted the recent purchase of 108 Toyota Land Cruisers Sport Utility Vehicles for senators.
The Reps justified the purchase of the cars on the grounds that they were patronising an indigenous firm.
“The agreed price for each unit is N10m, which will leave the total cost for the 360 units at N3.6bn,” a senior official of the House informed The PUNCH in Abuja.
It was learnt that the payment of the N3.6bn would be spread across two years because the capital vote of the House in the 2016 budget was not enough to cover the cost of the cars.
For example, the total capital vote of the House in the budget is said to be N220m.
However, the Kaduna-based company would deliver all 360 units at once, under the “friendly” payment terms reached with the firm.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, admitted that arrangements to buy the cars had been concluded.
Namdas added, “Peugeot is a local vehicle assembly plant. By patronising them, it is the decision of the House that we will be generating employment and promoting made in Nigeria products. That is the difference.
“Each unit is N10m, which is, again, far cheaper compared to when we have to import the cars.
“We have resolved to buy the cars and in weeks from today, they will begin to arrive.”
Asked why members would buy exotic cars at a time Nigerians were protesting a similar action taken by the Senate, Namdas said the House must get over the car issue and move on.
“The question is whether members need these cars to perform their duties. Yes.
“There is never going to be a time when it will be right to buy the cars. We will buy and get over the issue once and for all,” he stated.
The PUNCH had reported on December 20, 2015, that the House was awaiting the passage of the 2016 budget to buy the cars.
With the budget having been passed, it was gathered that the only delay was the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the N6.06tn fiscal document.
“This explains why the delivery of the vehicles will wait till June because it is expected that all the controversies surrounding the budget would have been sorted out and Buhari would have signed the 2016 Appropriation Bill into law,” another National Assembly aide told The PUNCHin Abuja on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday justified its decision to buy 36 SUVs for its members, adding that the money for the luxury vehicles was sourced from its 2015 budget.
The Chairman, Committee on Senate Services, Senator Abdullahi Gobir, who made the clarification in an interview with journalists, also described as untrue insinuations that senators collected car loans shortly after the inauguration of the 8th Senate.
He said each of the senators from the 36 states, who were either chairman or vice-chairman of committees, got a vehicle with the understanding of their two other colleagues.
He also put the value of each of the Land Cruiser VXR V8 vehicles at N36.5m including the cost of purchase and other taxes.
He said, “First, I would like to say that the issue that we bought 108 cars is totally wrong. It is not correct. We bought 36 cars because each senator in each state is either a chairman or a vice-chairman and we gave one car to each state.
“We don’t have money to buy 108 cars. On the issue of buying cars without appropriation; this is totally wrong because this has been appropriated for in the 2015 budget.
“So, we used what we have in the 2015 budget to buy the 36 cars so that it can go round each state.
“On the issue of the cost of the car, the showroom price, the cost of the car is N36.5m. The car we bought is Land Cruiser VXR V8 not V6, therefore the showroom price is about N31m minimum and when you put 10 per cent tax it becomes 36.5m.
“In fact, you can go to the internet and download it. It is very simple, we can give you the website, we have several items we downloaded from the internet; you can see them. This particular car costs about $90,000.
“By the time you multiply that you will have about N28.8m. So, when you add tax, you will end up with about N37m. So, I think what we have purchased the car for is very reasonable and sensitive to economic challenge.
“We are supposed to buy 109 cars but because of the paucity of funds, because of our sensitivity and concern for lack of funds, we bought only 36 to go round the state.”