The House of Representatives on Friday dismissed reports that members of the green chamber had collected car loans and were still planning to buy more vehicles for their official duties at the expense of tax payers.
Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas, made the denial when he led some Reps members on a courtesy visit to Media Trust Ltd (MTL) corporate headquarters in Abuja.
Media Trust Ltd are publishers of Daily, Weekly and Sunday Trust newspaper titles.
Namdas, who was received by the Chief Executive Officer/Editor-in-Chief of the organization, Malam Mannir Dan-Ali and other top management staff, said the House of Representatives was worried by the negative public perception of the National Assembly and called for closer collaboration with the media to reverse the trend.
Namdas said: “Our major concern is the kind of negative public perception about our activities. Nigerians believe that we are not supposed to be around and that we are only wasting public funds”.
He continued: “This is basically what we want to change, and we cannot do it alone, we need the media. We have professors among us, retired civil servants and many other technocrats. The National Assembly is the symbol of democracy and if we give room for the people to disparage its sanctity, it means we are going back to dictatorship”.
On the vexatious issue of official vehicles for legislators, the House of Representatives spokesman said: “The way people are talking about cars is as if it is only in the National Assembly that government is buying vehicles for its functions. If you go to the states, you will find out that all the commissioners are given cars, including special advisers. The state Houses of Assembly are also buying cars for their members and the constitution says no state Assembly should have less than 24 members. If you multiply this by 36 states, excluding the FCT, you will have 864. If all of them have vehicles and you calculate the money, it will run into billions”.
Namdas added: “In the House of Representatives specifically, we have not been given car loans. None of us has taken a car loan, but the public believes we have and we want the House to buy more for our offices. This has made people to look at us as irresponsible”.
In his response, Malam Dan-Ali said the media will continue to provide a platform for various stakeholders but that the misconception about the National Assembly would only stop when legislators are proactive in providing the public with facts.