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Amid Recession, Reps Take Delivery of N3.6bn Exotic Cars

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SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara
  • Amid Recession, Reps Take Delivery of N3.6bn Exotic Cars

The delivery of 360 exotic cars to members of the House of Representatives has begun amid the economic downturn in the country.

Investigations revealed on Sunday that 28 units of the Peugeot 508 series had already been delivered to lawmakers in Abuja.

The 28 were among the first batch of 50 cars supplied by the Kaduna-based Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited.

The House allocated a princely N3.6bn for the cars in the 2016 budget at a unit price of N10m.

A National Assembly top aide said on Sunday that the arrangement with Peugeot was that the company would supply the vehicles in batches because of the huge number of members involved.

“Fifty cars will be supplied in the first batch; 28 have already been delivered. That was last week.

“Twenty-two more in the first batch are expected to be delivered this week,” the source stated.

Findings indicated that the luxury cars would arrive in Abuja in batches till January, 2017 when all 360 members would have picked a unit.

About 223 of the members of the House are new, having come to the National Assembly for the first time in 2015.

But all 360 members will still benefit from the luxury cars, officially known as ‘utility’ or ‘committee’ vehicles.

Investigations showed that owing to paucity of funds, the lawmakers agreed with Peugeot to spread the payment of the N3.6bn across 24 months or “two years’ budget.”

According to report, the original plan was to start the delivery of the cars last June, but the delay in the passage of the 2016 budget stalled it.

“The House was not sure of the provisions in the budget owing to the general drop in the revenue available to the Federal Government this year.

“So, they delayed it till the budget was passed before they continued with the procurement processing.”

It was learnt that a lengthy disagreement among lawmakers preceded the choice of the Peugeot 508 series.

Investigations revealed that while the majority of the new members preferred the 2016 Toyota Camry, others argued in favour of Peugeot 508 on the grounds of patronising ‘Made-in-Nigeria products’.

“Eventually, the argument was sustained that Peugeot should be the choice to encourage local automotive industry; though it would also appear that there was a comparative cost analysis,” another legislative source added.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, confirmed that members had started taking delivery of the vehicles.

Speaking with our correspondent on Sunday, Namdas stated that female lawmakers were the first in line to pick up their units, while the males would take their turn in subsequent batches.

Asked why the House would splash money on 360 exotic cars at a time the country was in recession, Namdas played down any reference to the cars as being “luxury.”

He said, “This issue of cars is long overdue. They are not for luxury but for committee and oversight duties.

“The 8th Assembly is nearing two years, yet members have no cars to carry out their duties.

“Ministers and other officials in the executive have long bought vehicles for official duties.

“At the state level, members of House of Assembly have cars to carry out basic functions.

“I think it is only fair that members of the National Assembly will have utility vehicles for their assignments.”

Namdas also said that the choice of Peugeot 508 was to “look inward such that Peugeot, which is locally-assembled, will benefit and grow.”

On paper, the cars are the property of the National Assembly, but the tradition over time is that lawmakers take them along with them on completion of their tenure after paying a fraction of the unit cost.

It was learnt that the management of the National Assembly would evaluate the cars after four years and deduct an agreed sum from the severance package of members.

Besides the utility vehicles, members also get a repayable loan to buy personal cars.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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