Bombshell! Why senate insists on buying new cars -Ndume

Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) is the Senate Leader. In this interview, he speaks on the relationship between the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari, concluding that the president is not a dictator. He also spoke on their plan to buy cars, the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and why the legislative arm of government would not embrace it. Excerpt:

Since last week’s presidential media chat, the comportment of the National Assembly, especially the Senate towards President Buhari has changed with the harsh reaction issued on the N47bn cars. Is the battle line drawn?
No, no what do you mean by that? We are on the same page with the President and as such there is no battle between us. So far, there is no president that has received wholehearted support like Buhari since the return of democracy from the National Assembly. He is the first president that brought ministerial nominees and none of them was dropped. There is nothing that the president brought before the National Assembly that was not treated expeditiously.
During President Olusegun Obasanjo, we refused to confirm his nominees and during Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, we slugged it out with him on Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, and we did not approve his nominations for the FIRS (Federal Inland Revenue Service). But since assumption of office, President Buhari’s nominees have been getting our approvals. Anything he brings before us, we treat it expeditiously, meaning we are on the same page with Buhari. This is not to say that we are going to compromise our rights or privileges as enshrined in the country’s constitution.

How many cars are you people buying and at what cost?
We are buying 110 land cruiser jeeps or so and I think each of the cars will cost about N20 million. We have since decided to buy the cars.

Where are the cars that were purchased by the 7th Senate?
You are talking about cars that were purchased four years ago. The cars have since been sold in line with the tradition. At the time, the cars were valued, those that were interested in buying them, bought theirs and those that were not returned theirs. I think the cars were sold for about N3 million or there abouts. Between you and God, a Prado jeep that was used for four years, will it cost more than N3 million? Are you expecting a Senator or Rep to use a car that is four years old?
Two, is it fair while a minister is using a minimum of four cars and a Senator or Rep would be driving one old car? How many cars are permanent secretaries using or even heads of agencies? You people should be fair to us. What I assure you is that we will always follow due process in whatever we are doing and we will be guided by the constitution.

You were given car loans and now you are buying cars for yourselves from the government coffers. Why are you people not considering the economic situation of the country?
Yes, it is true that we were given car loans but do you expect us to use our personal cars to do official duties? The car loans are meant for us to purchase our personal cars and not official car. The cars we are buying now are the officials cars. As members of the National Assembly, we are entitled to official cars.

Sir, why are you people refusing to embrace the TSA which was conceived to reduce corruption in governance?
We are not a revenue generating agency and because of this, it will not be useful to us. It will not be possible that all our transactions are through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It can’t be at all. The commercial banks are created to survive through businesses. The TSA is for the executives, and it is meant to block the loopholes in governance, especially in revenue generating agencies. The expenditures of agencies of government can be streamlined but you cannot streamline the expenditure of other arms of government, especially the legislative arm and even the judiciary. You can’t compel or force us to be part of TSA; we don’t fit into it because we don’t generate revenue.

Do you subscribe to the claim that President Buhari is exhibiting characters of a dictator in piloting the affairs of the country as being peddled by the opposition?
Under democratic dispensation, the president can never be a dictator. The only thing that Nigerians are trying to get used to is that unlike past presidents that we had in recent times, Buhari is a very serious president. Nigerians need a very serious president at this critical time of our existence.
He is just very serious and this is the kind of person we need to move forward at this particular time. We have had a lazy president, an unserious president and even a weak president but now we have a serious president. Frankly speaking, Buhari cannot be a dictator under democratic government; in fact, there is no room for dictatorship.
Under this government, he cannot be because there is legislative arm of government and we are alive to our responsibilities as stipulated in the country’s constitution.

Reports are filtering around that the Presidency has withdrawn the 2016 Appropriation Bill. Is that true?
It is impossible to withdraw the budget; it is not a document that you can just write and say you are withdrawing it. The budget proposal that has been laid at a joint session of the National Assembly cannot just be withdrawn like that. Budget proposal is not a document that is sacrosanct, you can adjust it and this is why it is before us. During the budget defence, it can be adjusted if need be.

How soon would the budget be passed?
What I can tell you is that we will start working on it immediately we resume next week and we will treat it with all seriousness because we know its importance to governance. We will begin budget defence as soon as we resume and it is then that you can add or do whatever you want to do on the budget but it cannot be withdrawn like that.

How many bills have you people passed so far since the inauguration of the 8th Senate on June 9th last year?
We have passed three bills and many others are at first and second reading. It is the chairman of rules and business committee that is in charge. I have lost track of the number of motions and bills we have considered so far.

Daily trust
Share on Google Plus
    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment


Post a Comment