The Rivers State Government has bought new SUVs – Toyota Land Cruisers – worth hundreds of millions of naira for the 16 National Assembly members from the state.
By rough estimation, the cost of the 16 vehicles should be about N484.720 million, going by the unit price of $83,665 for a Toyota Land Cruiser in the U.S.
The N484.720 million, however, does not include other costs such as customs duties and clearing cost.
Rivers State has three senators and 13 House of Representatives members at the National Assembly.
The State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Monday, released the vehicles in Port Harcourt to two federal lawmakers who were around, according to a Government House press statement.
The two lawmakers are Betty Apiafi and Bari Mpigi.
“This is from the Government of Rivers State which you are part of,” Mr. Wike was quoted to have said, as he gave out the new vehicles.
“This is to aid you to carry out your official functions in Abuja.
“Defend the interest of the state wherever you are,” he said
Mr. Wike said the vehicles were for all members of the National Assembly, irrespective of party affiliation.
The purchase of the SUV has however become a subject of debate on the account that the lawmakers from Rivers, like other federal lawmakers, are entitled to and had received their official vehicles from the National Assembly, Abuja.
Besides, the purchase of the vehicles is coming at a time that Rivers, like most other states in Nigeria, is facing an economic crisis due to the slump in oil prices.
President Muhammadu Buhari a few days ago ordered that more money from the Paris Club refund be released to the states, including Rivers, before Christmas to help ease their financial hardship.
Meanwhile, the Rivers government appears unable to meet its financial obligations to some of its retired civil servants whose main source of income ought to be their pension.