OrderPaperToday – As the donation of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) to members of the National Assembly from Rivers State by Governor Nyesom Wike continues to generate reactions, the member representing Obio-Akpor federal constituency, Mr. Kingsley Chinda has joined issues with those condemning the gesture.
Rising in defense of the governor and recipients of the cars, Mr. Chinda said the need to enable the lawmakers penetrate and interface with their constituencies effectively necessitated the donation.
Mr. Chinda told OrderPaperNg that it was normal for a governor to give cars to National Assembly members and that it was done by past administrations in Rivers and some other states of the country.
Mr. Chinda who is the Chairman, House Committee on Public Account said the only thing unique about this particular donation by Wike was that the governor did not exempt anybody regardless of party affiliation unlike the previous government under the incumbent Minister for Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who extended same gesture to only members of his political party, the All Progressive Congress (APC).
He also stated that the donation was instigated by the lawmakers who had approached the governor with a request.
He also clarified that the cars made available to members of the National Assembly by the federal government were for field operations which legislators had the option of buying off at the end of their tenures if they so wished.
He said: “I can confirm to you that the Rivers State Government gave SUVs to all members of the National Assembly to facilitate their logistics and carry out the functions for which they were elected.
“It is a normal thing and this is not the first time members in the National Assembly would be receiving cars from the Rivers State government. When the Minister for Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Ameachi was governor, he gave BMWs to members of APC in the National Assembly and excluded the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members and when Mr. Peter Odili was governor he also gave National Assembly members cars.”
Continuing, he said “Rivers State is not the only one who bought cars for its federal lawmakers; Mr. Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom also bought Prado jeeps vehicles for federal lawmakers some time last year.
“Let me put the records straight; we were the ones who approached the governor and asked for his assistance to help us provide vehicles that would enable us move around in our constituencies and do our work.
“At that time he said it was not possible to execute that but we should allow him time to enable him buy the cars and this is about 3 years ago. We are happy not just for the governor but for the people of Rivers State who gave vehicles to us.”
The lawmaker also appealed to Nigerians to stop hating on the National Assembly, saying rather they should focus on members of the Executive including Ministers and Heads of Agencies who drive retinue of SUVs.
“When you see members of National Assembly drive good cars it seems like all the money is wasted on them but Ministers have retinue of SUVs and even the Ministers’ aides have SUVs attached to them.
“Again, the vehicles provided by National Assembly are all field cars and at the end (of the tenure) they would be valued and if you so wish you pay for them so members buy vehicles for themselves.”