The Federal Government has begun taking delivery of 200 exotics cars ordered for use by guests and officials of the African First Ladies Summit which kicked off in Abuja yesterday, sources involved in the deal said.
First Lady Patience Jonathan is the convener of the event, with the theme “The African Woman: A Voice for Peace,” which is expected to be attended by spouses of African leaders.
The cars comprise 80 units of BMWX3 and X5 series with a market value of N13.5 million each, while the remaining 120 are exotic models of Honda, Jaguar and others.
Sources said the vehicles were supplied by Coscharis Motors, and 180 units have already been delivered to the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Saturday.
The cars are for use during the 7th African First Ladies for Peace Mission (AFLPM) summit scheduled for 24 to 27 July in Abuja. Already, African first ladies have begun arriving in the country since weekend for the four-day event.
There was conflicting information by last night on whether the cars were bought outright or hired, and no government official was ready to speak on the record for this story.
When the spokesman for Coscharis Motors, Mr. Ifeanyi Nihe was contacted by telephone on Monday, he said the company had supplied vehicles to the Federal Government but refused to state the number and cost.
“I am not in the position to give out the real value of the transaction,” he said.
When asked which government agency was handling the transaction, Nihe said, “Our company is still talking with some officials of the government. I don’t know whether it is the First Lady’s office or not.”
Nihe also could not confirm whether the cars were sold or leased out to the government for the event.
Coscharis Motors is the same company that supplied over 3,000 units of BMW series used during the 8th All African Games also known as COJA in 2003.
A source said the transaction for the 200 cars was processed by the office of the Minister of State for Finance.
Attempts to seek explanation from the office were not successful as a spokesman declined comment while the minister of state, Dr. Yerima Ngama, did not answer calls to his phone on Monday.
Also, attempts to get reaction from the office of the First Lady were not successful. Her spokesman Ayo Adewuyi could not be reached by telephone on Monday and yesterday.
The Federal Government is supposed to be operating a “monetization” policy under which government officials are paid monies in lieu of official vehicles. Ministries and agencies, including the Presidency, are also supposed to maintain pools of limited numbers of vehicles for official activities.
It is not clear what will happen to the 200 cars after the First Ladies conference, but such vehicles usually end up being auctioned at rock-bottom prices to the well-connected or government workers take possession of them.
The main objective of the African First Ladies summit, according to the concept paper, is to “facilitate the flow of authentic conversations and ideas that will create powerful new paradigm for the African woman.”
During the conference, the foundation laying ceremony of the secretariat of Mrs. Jonathan’s First Ladies Peace Mission is scheduled be performed in Abuja.
The foundation is to be laid on the disputed land allocated to former first lady Turai Yar’Adua’s Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation (WAYEF) in February 2010 but revoked by FCT Minister Bala Mohammed in November last year and reallocated to Mrs. Jonathan’s pet project.
The AFLPM was established in 1997 and aims at the prevention and management of conflict as well as the preservation of peace through civil and humanitarian diplomacy.
– Daily Trust