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Governors lavish billions of naira on bulletproof cars

There are indications that some governors, their wives and
deputy governors have continued to ride in expensive
bulletproof vehicles despite the frowning economic recession in the country.
Saturday PUNCH investigations revealed that the number of
bulletproof vehicles in the convoy of 14 state governors,
their deputies and wives is close to 100 while the citizens
have been struggling to enjoy daily meals.
Findings by our correspondents revealed that the average
cost of an armoured vehicle is about N75m. The cost
could be more, depending on the level of armour
recommended or requested by the buyer, and such
depends on the location of use and the type of threat the
owner is guarding against.

                                          Governors own fleets of armoured cars

According to JPA Armouring Group, an armoured vehicle
manufacturer in Germany, the cost of a bulletproof 2014
Lexus LX 570 starts from €192,000 (N89.3m), an
armoured 2015 Toyota Prado starts from €125,000
(N58.1), while the cost of an armoured Toyota Land
Cruiser starts from €149,000 (N69.2m), excluding
shipping costs.
Another armoured vehicle manufacturer, Texas Armoring
Corporation, in the United States, says armoured vehicles
needed in West African countries tend to be more
expensive and buyers from the region are often advised to
adopt the T6 protection level because high-powered rifles

are the predominant weapons used by criminals there.
Interestingly, many governors that have yet to pay their
workers’ salaries for many months and who are blaming
their inability to pay them on the dwindling monthly federal
allocation have enough money to buy these vehicles for
themselves and the use of their wives.
At the beginning of the year, the Federal Government and
states recorded a drop in allocation from N387.77bn in
December 2015 to N370.38bn in January 2016 when oil
prices fell from $43.4 per barrel to $39.
In March 2016, allocations from the Federation Account to
the three tiers of government declined by a whopping
N18.2bn – from N299.74bn to N281.5bn, according to
the Federation Account Allocation Committee.
But in spite of this, it was learnt that some of the
governors, their deputies and wives still maintain
ostentatious lifestyles.
Saturday PUNCH investigations showed that Bauchi State
Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, and his deputy,
Mr. Nuhu Gidado, have three bulletproof cars. A security
source attached to the state Government House told one
of our correspondents that while the governor uses two
bulletproof cars, his deputy uses one.
The source said, “I can confirm that Governor Abubakar
has two bulletproof cars while the deputy governor has
one. The governor inherited two bulletproof Prado sport
utility vehicles from his predecessor, Isa Yuguda.
“But just about a month ago, a new bulletproof car was
acquired by the state government. The newly acquired
bulletproof car is a Mercedes Benz 4matic. This car has
yet to be put into use.”
The security source, however, said the governor and his
deputy might need the bulletproof cars because of the
precarious security situation in the state.
He said, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with the
governor and his deputy using bulletproof cars. Definitely,
they need these special cars because of the security
situation in the country.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the Bauchi State Governor
on Media, Sabo Mohammed, admitted that both Abubakar
and his deputy, Gidado are currently using bulletproof
vehicles but said the cars were inherited from the past
administration.
He, however, denied the recent purchase of a brand new
Mercedes Benz 4matic bulletproof car by the state
government.
When asked about the newly acquired bulletproof car by
the state government, he laughed saying “how did you
know that?”
“I can tell you without mincing words that the state has
not bought any new bulletproof car for the governor. It is
not true. I only read that of Kogi State recently but not in
Bauchi,” Mohammed said.
Also, Saturday PUNCH learnt that there are no fewer than
six bulletproof vehicles in the fleet of the Osun State
Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola.
A security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
listed the vehicles as three Mercedes Benz product, a bus,
G-Class, and a 4matic and two Toyota Land cruisers.
It was also gathered that the state deputy governor, Mrs.
Titi Laoye-Tomori, has one armoured Toyota Land cruiser.
But the Consultant on Information to Osun State
Government, Mr. Sunday Akere, said he doubted that the
governor had armoured cars in his fleet.
He said, “I can’t confirm that the governor has bulletproof
cars. If at all there are bulletproof cars among his
vehicles, they might be the ones he met in the Government
House before he became the governor.”
Findings also showed that Cross River State Governor,
Prof. Ben Ayade, has at least four bulletproof vehicles.
This is in addition to four others used by his deputy, Prof.
Ivara Esu, and the wife of the governor, Dr. Lynda Ayade.
Investigations revealed that the bulletproof cars in the pool
of the governor’s convoy include a 2015 Range Rover
Vogue, Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (2015), BMW 7 series
(2015) and Toyota Sequoia (2012).
The deputy governor uses a Range Rover Vogue (2015)
and a BMW 5 series (2014), while the governor’s wife has
a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (2015) and Lexus jeep (2010)
bulletproof vehicles.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Christian
Ita, did not respond to calls and text messages sent to his
mobile telephone.
A security expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
stated that it was imperative for the governor and his
deputy to use bulletproof vehicles because of criminal
activities in some parts of the state.
He listed dangerous spots where the governor would, as a
matter of necessity, visit periodically to include Akpabuyo
and Bakassi local government areas where activities of
militants had posed security threat for some time.
Findings also showed that two bulletproof Ford Expedition
SUVs were among the fleet of the Katsina State Governor,
Alhaji Aminu Masari.
It was learnt from a source in the government that the two
vehicles were bought last year shortly after the governor’s
inauguration.
The source said the condition of Nigerian roads and the
general insecurity in the country might have informed the
governor’s choice of the vehicles.
Investigation, however, revealed that the governor’s three
wives were not permanently resident in Katsina, but
stayed in Kaduna and Abuja and used to visit the state
during important celebrations.
Findings further showed that no official vehicle was
attached to the three wives, but it was learnt that they use
three vehicles, namely: Mercedes Benz “C’’ Class, Honda
(End of Discussion) and Peugeot 607.
A Government House source told one of our
correspondents that the Ondo State Governor, Dr.
Olusegun Mimiko, and his wife, Olukemi, have three
bulletproof SUVs.
He said, “The governor and his wife often use the
bulletproof vehicles when they travel out of the state or to
attend social and official functions.
“The governor was initially using a Toyota bulletproof car
during his first term, but later added the Lexus Jeep to his
fleet after he was inaugurated for a second term in office.”
The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, and his wife
were said to have two bulletproof vehicles in their fleet.
The Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and
Publicity, Mr. Jide Orintusin, confirmed to one of our
correspondents that the governor was using the Toyota
Land Cruiser bulletproof car he inherited from his
predecessor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu.
Orintusin, however, said that buying a new bulletproof car
was not the priority of the governor now.
He said, “We are interested in the well-being of our people
especially in this economic recession that is affecting the
country. We do things in order of importance; the
happiness of our people is our concern.”
Similarly, it was gathered that two armoured Mercedes
Benz G-wagons were in the fleet of the Ogun State
Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Of the about five exotic cars the Kwara State Governor,
Abdulfatah Ahmed, is using, the Range Rover and E-Class
Mercedes Benz car among them were suspected to be
bulletproof cars. His wife, Omolewa’s Lexus SUV and
Prado SUV were also suspected to be bulletproof vehicles.
The Governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and
Communication, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, declined to
comment on whether any or all of the vehicles had
bulletproof facility.
“For security reasons, I cannot answer that question,” he
said.
In Benue State, Saturday PUNCH found that the number of
bulletproof vehicles currently available for the use of the
state governor, Samuel Ortom, his deputy and their
spouses are 12.
One of our correspondents gathered that while Ortom and
his wife are using five of the cars, the deputy governor and
his spouse use three.
A source at the Government House said the immediate
past governor, Gabriel Suswam, left six bulletproof cars
for Ortom, while Suswam inherited two from the erstwhile
governor, George Akume.
Investigation revealed that the model and year of each of
the bulletproof vehicles belonging to Ortom are 2012
Mercedes Benz S550; 2015 Mercedes S550; two 2014
BMW 7 series; 2015 Lexus LX; two Toyota Land Cruiser
and two 2013 Escalade.
A Government House source said that each of the
bulletproof vehicles cost between N70m and N120m.
The source added that Ortom bought two of the vehicles in
addition to the eight purchased by Suswam.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Terver Akase,
declined to comment on the bulletproof vehicles.
He said, ‘The question you put before me is purely security
matter. Therefore, I cannot comment on that because if I
do, it means I am exposing my boss to danger. It is not
proper to ask me to tell you what kind of cars my governor
is using. So, it is not right for me to disclose such
information.”
The situation is the same in Enugu, Abia and Anambra
states. It was gathered that the Enugu State Governor,
Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has three armoured cars in his fleet. His
Abia State counterpart, Okezie Ikpeazu, has two armoured
cars in his fleet.
Ikpeazu, whose convoy moves without siren, has one 2016
LX Lexus car, a Toyota land cruiser XXRL 2016 and
Toyota Land Cruiser XXL 2015, among others.
Reacting to the development, the Special Assistant to the
Enugu State Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Louis
Amoke, said Ugwuanyi had been using the vehicles he
inherited from the previous administration in the state.
Amoke said the governor had not bought any official
vehicle for himself since he came into office.
He added that the need for bulletproof vehicles was a
security matter that concerns the Office of the Governor,
and not necessarily the holder of the office.
James Eze, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor
Obiano on Media, neither answered calls made to his
mobile telephone nor replied a text message sent to him.
Investigation also showed that Governor Willie Obiano of
Anambra State has 10 vehicles in his convoy.
A Government House source said eight of the vehicles are
Toyota Prado SUVs.
It was gathered that the governor’s main vehicle, a Toyota
Landcruiser 2014 model, and his backup car, are
armoured.
It was also learnt that Governor Mohammed Bindow of
Adamawa State and his Delta State counterpart, Ifeanyi
Okowa, have many armoured vehicles in their fleet.
While a source said Bindow has two bulletproof Lexus LX
cars in his fleet, Okowa is said to have four.
One of our correspondents gathered that of Okowa’s four
bulletproof cars, three were bought in 2015 after his
inauguration.
His wife, Edith, is also said to be using a bulletproof Lexus
570 jeep, which Okowa was said to have bought before he
was elected as governor.
While giving the breakdown of the numbers, our sources
said the governor has Benz 550 and Lexus 570 Jeep as
official bulletproof vehicles.
An ex-security aide to a former governor in the state said
two other bulletproof cars aside the four mentioned by
Okowa’s aides were usually stationed in Abuja and Lagos.
The Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick
Ukah, said he was at a meeting and could not speak on
the issue.
Security chiefs in the state also declined comment. They
described the issue as classified information.
But the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Charles
Aniagwu, explained that the vehicles were not meant for
luxury but to provide security for the governor. He
explained that presidents, governors and ministers are
expected to have bulletproof vehicles to safeguard their
lives.
Aniagwu added that the governor did not have more than
the number of bulletproof vehicles he was required to
have, but declined to give the number.
Yohanna Mathias, Chief Press Secretary to Bindow, said
visitors to the state are being chauffeured in one car
because the former administration left only two Toyota
Prado (bulletproof) SUVs, two Hilux vans and one 406
Peugeot vehicle, which it uses to convey guests.
He also said the wife of the Governor does not have any
bulletproof vehicle assigned to her, adding that the case
was pathetic because the previous administration had
boasted of over 60 vehicles, but that the current
administration had inherited not more than seven vehicles.
A security expert, Patrick Agbam, says governors do not
need more than two bulletproof vehicles in their fleet even
if the economy is prosperous.
Considering the increase in poverty and hunger, he added
that it was immoral for the governors to have spent huge
amount of public funds on acquisition of bulletproof
vehicles.
He said, “I don’t think the current economic reality requires
governors to spend so much on acquiring bulletproof
vehicles. I wouldn’t know how their security advisers
convinced them to acquire more than two bulletproof
vehicles.
“In security analysis, when poverty and hunger increase,
there are bound to be increase in security threats, but that
doesn’t mean they should spend so much money to
acquire such vehicles. They could have used the money to
cater for the citizens.
“If they do this, hunger will decrease and when hunger
decreases, there will be decrease in security threat.
Governance is about serving people. Even if we have a
buoyant economy, governors and their deputies shouldn’t
have more than one bulletproof vehicle each.”
An economist, Dr. Babatunde Abraham, referred to the
governors’ action as economic sabotage.
He said, “It is not only when vandals destroy pipelines that
we have economic sabotage. Spending state resources
extravagantly is also economic sabotage. Even if there is
no hunger, it is wasteful for any governor to have more
than one bulletproof car, if they need it at all.
Wonders

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