Friday, January 09, 2009

Doing The Math

Remembering what Chxta said the other day about us allowing things to get swept under the carpet and forgotten, I decided to revisit the N2.3 billion vehicle purchase scandal which rocked the National Assembly back in October, 2008.

For those who may not remember what all the hullabaloo was about, it was reported that a contract to purchase of 280 Peugeot 407 salon cars as “committee” vehicles for the members of the House of Representatives had been inflated by around N480 million, and Festus Keyamo, the firebrand activist lawyer stormed the National Assembly in possession of certain documents and confronted the members of the House with their fraud. He was called all sorts of names, well nigh physically assaulted, and there were loud calls for probes. After a lot of noise was made, and a lot of ink spilled on the pages of the newspapers, the matter was promptly forgotten, and the actors paid their wages.

Out of curiosity, I decided to revisit the issue recently, by undertaking a visit to a major dealer in Peugeot vehicles, and the aforementioned 407 was prominently displayed in the showroom. I entered, and asked how much one of the Comfort Automatics (the same type purchased by the National Assembly) was going for. The sales people provided me with their brochure and told me the price was N5.1 million. I asked if there was no discount, and was told that there was in fact a 3% discount, which brought the price down to N4.9 million and some change.

I thanked them and left, clutching a copy of the brochure, with my mind reeling. Even to my extremely slow mathematical brain, it was clear that the fraud was in fact far greater than the esteemed Mr. Keyamo had claimed.

Bear in mind, dear reader, that this was a dealer’s price. The House of Reps purchased their vehicles directly from the manufacturer, so all the little additions dealers build into their prices should have, and must have been absent.

Scanning the brochure, I quickly realised that several claims from the House Leadership simply didn’t make any sense. For starters, 280 cars is by any standards a very large order, and must therefore have attracted a massive discount. Factor in that a Peugeot 407 costs around £15,700 (N3.2 million at today’s Black Market exchange rate) and the scale of the fraud simply boggles the mind. Indeed, a quick survey of prices on the internet revealed that there is in fact a standing discount of £2,100 on every 407 purchased. When you factor in that, you get a price of £13,600 or N2.85 million for each and every 407.

Now, factor in an order of 280 cars to a vehicle manufacturing company eager to please government officials and looking to regain its position as the official car of choice, and factor in your own imaginative discount. (Mine is a further 3% on each vehicle which makes the starting point of my own calculations N2.7 million per Comfort Auto 407.)

When I multiply that amount by 280 cars, I get N775.6 million. In TOTAL. When I add in the fact that 20 of the cars were not Comfort Automatic but Comfort Sport, I get N720 million for 260 Peugeot 407s. Even when I throw in import and clearing duties of 10% on each car, I still don’t cross N1 billion. Rather, I come in way short at N792 million.

Subtract the above sum from the N2.3 billion claimed as spent on the cars, and we get the tidy sum of around N1.5 billion having made its way into private pockets.

Now, let’s go off on a tangent, and assume that each car did in fact cost the Dealer’s price of N4.9 per vehicle. That would still leave us far short of N2.3 billion as we come in at around N1.2 billion for 260 Peugeot 407s.

But they didn’t go to a car dealer, they went directly to the source. Leaving aside the fact that there aren’t 280 Committees in the House of Reps, and that the same House of Reps had already purchased a fleet of buses for the Committees, and assuming that the decision to designate the cars as “Committee” vehicles was merely a means to circumvent the directive of the Executive that there would be no purchase of official vehicles for House of Reps members, the scale of greed involved here is almost unimaginable.

And to the rat bastards “explanation” that they had to place a rush order for the cars which they say justified the price, I must respond: “Was the Peugeot factory closed?”, “Had they stopped manufacturing the 407?” and “How in the blue fuck does Peugeot hear you want 280 cars and not give you a discount?” Somebody in that office would have touched the ceiling with glee. And when we add in (and I must reiterate) the fact that Peugeot are looking for a way back to the glory days when virtually all government vehicles were supplied by them, they would have all but kissed the feet of the House of Reps members with joy.

Keyamo wasn’t close, hell, he wasn’t even in the same ball park. And when that realization hit me, all I could say was “Haba!

About Me

My photo
I love my country, enjoy a cold beer once in a while, rabidly support Arsenal FC, but I don't get Diet Coke...