Don’t go with official vehicles, Buhari tells ministers

Two days before the conclusion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight-year administration and the transition of power to President-elect Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on May 29, the Presidency has said that ministers would not be permitted to leave office in their official cars.

It said that they would only get the severance payments prescribed by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.

It went on to say that Buhari and his Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), will hand over their armored, luxurious cars to their successors, Tinubu and his deputy, Kashim Shettima, respectively.

Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, provided clarity in an interview, as is customary for government employees to leave office in their official cars.

Across the country and at all levels of government, it has become the norm for heads of the executive branch and some heads of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to leave office with government vehicles; some sold the vehicles to themselves at a rate many people describe as ridiculous; some set aside large sums of money for themselves to purchase vehicles; and some buy or convert government properties to personal use after their tenure.

Shehu added that Buhari, Osinbajo, and the ministers will not leave office with the cars assigned to them on May 29.

“As of today, nobody is entitled to official cars,” he stated. They make use of project cars. After four years of use, they may be boarded and sold. When the book value has been depleted.

“As of now, the law recommends no further action.” So, don’t expect ministers to take their automobiles under Buhari just because they’re departing. It will not take place. If the ministers aren’t bringing their automobiles, don’t expect the president to. It will not take place.”

The presidential spokeswoman noted that the legislation already allows previous presidents and their deputies to get a set number of cars at specified periods, and that they did not need to use official vehicles.

“Former Heads of State are entitled to a certain number of vehicles, which may be changed after a certain number of years,” he said. And the President has maintained his word by providing that number of automobiles to all past heads of state when they are due. I can tell you that the President will not elevate himself above others.”

‘Too advanced vehicles’

Meanwhile, a senior White House official noted that the automobiles used by the President and Vice-President were custom-made and could not be used by private persons, which the holders of the positions become after leaving office.

Aside from the hefty cost of the automobiles, the source said that they came with high-end customization, such as security and other amenities.

According to the source, the cars, which include Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicles, buses, and luxury vans, fulfill particular comfort, security, and durability standards.

According to the findings, the President and Vice-President drive armoured 2019 Mercedes Benz Maybach S650 bullet-proof automobiles valued at least N300 million.

In 2018, the Buhari administration set aside N907 million for the gradual procurement of new cars and replacement components for the presidential fleet.

The 2019 budget also included N843 million for vehicle acquisition and upkeep.

The high price is due to considerable customization, security measures, and the restricted manufacture of armoured luxury cars.

According to reports, the President’s official car is a five-seater sedan with massage and heated seats. It has 510 horsepower and a 5.5-liter 12-cylinder turbocharged engine that revs at 5,000 RPM. It also has a highway mileage rating of 25 mpg and a city mileage rating of 15 mpg.

Buhari would no longer be able to utilize the faulty 2014 Mercedes Benz S350 that his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, had given him.

In 2022, N1.6 billion and N30 million were set aside for car-related costs in the President’s and Vice-President’s offices, respectively.

However, when Buhari and Osinbajo leave office on May 29, a Presidency source claimed both officials will leave behind the high-end luxury cars that have transported them for the last several years.

The insider, like Shehu, emphasized that since the nation caters to all previous Heads of State, there was no need to leave office with such costly automobiles.

“Past presidents are already under the care of the government,” the person stated. A department in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation supervises the affairs of previous Heads of State. That agency does whatever prior presidents need.

“He (Buhari) will not be able to take those vehicles.” These are very expensive bulletproof automobiles. They are not inexpensive. The next President will make advantage of them. As a private individual, what will he do with them?

“I know governors and heads of ministries, departments, and agencies who may leave office with a vehicle after using it for a while.” However, this does not apply to the President’s and Vice-President’s offices.”