Senate President, Bukola Saraki has denied a report that inferred that he recently purchased vehicles worth N330m.
Reacting to the report by Premium Times, Saraki said only his official vehicle, a Mercedes Benz was changed while stressing that the other vehicle in his convoy was inherited from the former Senate President, David Mark.
The Senate President also said it was wrong to "classify vehicles provided for security agencies like the police and State Security Service by the National Assembly management for their operations as vehicles bought for the Senate President."
In the statement signed by Yusuph Olaniyonu, Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the Senate President, he said: "Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has said only his official vehicle, a Mercedes Benz, was changed and that the spare car in the convoy is the old one he inherited and has been using since he assumed office June last year."
"It is an obvious fact that the official and spare cars that the Senate President inherited and has been using are old and have been malfunctioning. There are instances like the day Dr. Saraki visited Keffi for the marriage of the daughter of Senator Abdullahi Adamu and another day at the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport that the spare vehicle broke down."
"In both instances, the spare vehicle did not return home with the convoy. The same vehicle had malfunctioned at the Presidential Villa and National Mosque on different occasions. It is for this reason that the Senate President approved that instead of providing two vehicles for him as he is entitled, only one should be bought to replace the official vehicle while the old official car should be converted to spare car."
"Also, if the National Assembly Management chose to provide operational vehicles for Security Agencies, should that be presented as if they are personal or official vehicles meant for the use of Dr. Saraki? These are vehicles that cannot be used for other purposes and by other people. The Senate President also have no control over the security vehicles."
"It is also surprising that despite the fact that Premium Times in the same story reported that the order for the vehicle was made in December, it chose to calculate the value of the vehicles based on current exchange rate of the Naira to the dollar. This is obviously a mischief aimed at making the figure look huge and justify the screaming headline."
"The press should avoid deliberately inciting members of the public against public officials. The Senate President and his colleagues are conscious of the economic situation in the country and will continue to act responsibly and responsively."
To further underscore the 'frugality' of the Senate President, the statement said he recently rejected the proposal to construct an official residence worth N6 billion for him.
"Just last week, Dr. Saraki was informed that the Ministry of FCT in its 2016 budget proposed a N6 billion estimate for the construction of the official residence of the Senate President. He outrightly rejected the proposal and directed Senator Dino Melaye, Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT to bring down the cost to one billion Naira."
"He said that it should be made known to the Ministry that if it cannot construct the building with N1 billion then they should leave out the project entirely till after his tenure. He said he will rather stay in his present abode. Senator Melaye had already acted as instructed as indicated in the report his committee presented to the Appropriation Committee."
"It should therefore be noted that if Dr. Saraki can demonstrate frugality and responsible leadership in a matter that saved the country so much money, how can it then be presented as if purchase of cars is a big issue that he cares so much about? Those who know the antecedent of the Senate President know that there is no type of vehicle that can excite him at this stage in his life."