The cars will cost taxpayers an estimated N4.7billion that could be spent on vaccinating newborns and save them from dying or on providing electricity for remote communities so kids stop doing school assignments using paraffin lamps.
The upper legislative chamber is buying the vehicles at a time millions of Nigerians are facing severe economic hardship, including nonpayment of salaries.
The procurement is also happening at a time millions of Nigerians are enduring long and humiliating fuel queues across the country because the federal government is too broke to pay importers of petrol several billions in subsidy claims.
Already, the management of the National Assembly has invited bids from contractors interested in supplying the vehicles.
In an advertisement published in some newspapers, including Blueprint of November 20, 2015, the authorities asked the companies to tender for "Lot 1S, Supply of Utility Vehicles."
The advert, in what appears a deliberate ploy to conceal details, failed to indicate the number, type and specification of vehicles being bought.
However, PREMIUM TIMES has now obtained detailed copies of tender documents being discreetly issued to prospective contractors.
In one of the documents, the Senate indicated it was buying 120 units of Toyota Land Cruiser, 2016 model.
Other details of the vehicles included that they must be "American Brand, V8, VXR, 5.7, Auto Engine WITH INTELLIGENCE."
The senators also want the vehicles to come with integrated navigator cruise control, QI-Compatible wireless charging and Kinetic dynamic suspension system, as well as being "full option."
On November 21, the Senate also put up another advert it labelled "addendum."
The latest advert under Lot 2S, which was couched to look like an oversight in the first advert, was for the purchase of vehicles for the use of the senate president’s convoy.
Under Lot 2S and based on the tender document, which we have also obtained, the national assembly is seeking to purchase a 2016 modelMercedes Benz S550 for Mr. Saraki.
Other vehicles being procured for Mr. Saraki include four 2016 Toyota Prado jeeps, four 2016 Toyota Hilux SS (Auto) as well as a 2016 model Toyota Hiace Bus.
The spokesperson for the Senate, Aliyu Sabi, could not be reached Saturday to comment on these new procurement as his telephone was switched off the several times our reporter called.
The Director of Information of the National Assembly, Ishaku Dibal, declined to comment on the matter. He said he was driving and couldn’t comment after our reporter put his question to him.
Subsequent calls to his telephone failed to connect.
PREMIUM TIMES carried out a market survey on all the vehicles being bought by the senate and we can confirm that the upper chamber would spend over four billion naira of taxpayers money to enhance their taste for luxury.
Specifically, give or take, vehicles are valued at N4.739,515,625.
Although there are 109 senators, the lawmakers are buying 120 Toyota Land-cruisers. It is not clear where the balance of 11 vehicles would go.
We arrived at our figure of N4.7 billion after computing the cost of the vehicles, 35 per cent duties to be paid, and another 35 per cent levy.
There is also the expected 35 per cent profit margin to be made by each supplier based on the requirements of Nigeria’s procurement act.
Our checks revealed that a Toyota Land Cruiser, 2016 model, goes for $84,000, and at the current exchange rate of N250 to the dollar, it amounts to N21,000,000.
If 75 per cent of cost is added, being duty, levy and profit margin (translating to N15, 750,000) each vehicle would cost Nigerian tax payers N36,750,000.
Given that the senators propose to buy 120 units of the vehicles, the total figure is expected to be N4.41billion.
As for the convoy of the Senate president, we found that Mercedes Benz S550 2016 model goes for $95,650, which translates to N23, 912,500 and addition of 105 percent (duty, levy and profit margin) takes the total cost of the car to N49,020,625.00.
For the Toyota Prado SUVs, we were able to determine that each unit costs $73,000, which equals N18,250,000, while a 105 per cent addition of levy, duty and profit would put the cost of each at N37,412,500.
The total cost of the four (4) Prado Jeeps being acquired for Mr. Saraki is N149, 650,000.00.
Equally proposed for the Senate President’s convoy are four Toyota Hilux SS, Auto vehicles each costing $50,150.
At N250 to the dollar, each Hilux Van would cost N12,537,500 and an additional 75 percent would skyrocket the price of each unit to N25,601, 875.00.
The total figure for the four being proposed amounts to N102,407,500.00
The last vehicle under consideration is a Toyota Hiace Bus 2016 model, which by our findings, goes for $65,000 or N16,250,000 in naira value.
An addition of 105 percent, being duty, levy and profit, put the cost of the bus at N28,437,500.00
Below is the number of vehicles and estimated cost in summary.
120NOS Toyota Land Cruiser — N4,410,000,000:00
1Nos.Mercedes Benz S550 — N49,020,625:00
4nos. Toyota Prado — N149,650,000:00
4nos Toyota Hilux SS — N102,407,500:00
1Nos. Toyota Hiace Bus — N28,437,500:00
Grand total: N4.739,515,625.00
A cocktail of illegalities
PREMIUM TIMES can report that the acquisition of cars for senators is a violation of the monetisation policy of the federal government.
Under the policy, no new vehicles should be purchased by any agency of government for use by officials.
Rather, public officers and political office holders are to receive 250 per cent of their annual basic salary as motor vehicle loan, which translates to N5.07 million for each senator.
Our sources at the National Assembly said the Senators got these loans before also proceeding to acquire these new Toyota Land Cruisers.
Also, the President of the Senate is said to have inherited the vehicles used by his predecessor, and Senate insiders say "he really does not need new cars as the one he uses are in top condition."
But even if he needs new cars, the number being acquired for him is in excess of what the law provides.
According to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, the Senate President is entitled to a maximum of six vehicles, and not 10 as being bought for him.
He is entitled to two official cars, one pilot car, one protocol/press car, one ambulance and one security car.
Members of the two chambers of the national assembly are renown for their taste for exotic vehicles even after receiving monetary pay in lieu of official vehicles based on the provisions of the law.
The Senate had in the last legislative session bought Toyota Prado Jeeps for each Senator at the cost of over N1.3 billion, coming after both chambers had also bought Toyota Camry, for Senators and Peugeot vehicles for members of the House of Representatives.
The allegedly shady deal involved in the purchase of the Peugeot vehicles formed part of the charges against then Speaker Dimeji Bankole when he was taken to court after completing his term.
What N4.7billion can do.
If deployed towards enhancing healthcare delivery, N4.7 billion can be used in building 235 primary health care centres across Nigeria (enough for at least 6 health care centres in each state) at the cost of N20 million each.
The money, N4.7 billion, can also provide over 470,000 children with insecticide-treated mosquito nets at N10,000 each, saving them from the scourge of malaria which today kills more than 300,000 Nigerian children under the age of five annually and responsible for 11 per cent of maternal mortality cases yearly, according to experts at the Malaria Action Programme for States (MAPS).
Still on healthcare, over 10 million Nigerian kids could get complete malaria treatment dosage, at N460 if the N4.7 billion was directed to this life-saving purpose.
If that money is spent on boosting yield of farm produce, the amount can cover the cost of procurement of about 626,667 bags of fertilizers for Nigerian farmers at N7,500 each.
The money –N4.7 billion – can also offset a six-month wage bill of 40,000 minimum wage workers presently owed salary payment by some state governments seeking bailout from the federal government.
In order to provide conducive learning environment in schools, 470,000 sets of school furniture, comprising table and chair at N10,000 each, can be procured at the cost of N4.7 billion. Yet kids sit on bare floors to study in many schools across the country while the parliamentarians gets N4.7 billion to buy cars.
In the housing sector, at N7million per piece, the country can provide 671 additional cheap housing for citizens; and provide 51 thousand households with potable water at N92,000 per household connection.