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As the 2019 general elections draw nearer, condemnation has continued to trail the ongoing sharing of collateral and interest-free loans to petty traders across select markets by the Federal Government under the guise of TraderMoni, a scheme for Social Investment Programme of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Already, the Federal Government claims that it has so far disbursed about N12bn to boost the businesses of 1.2 million petty traders under its Trader-Moni initiative. This was made public by the Executive Director, Micro Enterprises, Bank of Industry, Mrs Toyin Adeniji, gave the figure during a chat with journalists on Friday in Abuja.
Giving a graphic detail on the unseen brain behind TraderMoni, the chairman of the anti-corruption organisation, Transparency International Nigeria (TIN), Awwal Rafsanjani, who spoke in a programme on Channels Television, described the scheme as an “official use of public funds in the name of TraderMoni to actually induce voters.”
While recalling that the TraderMoni scheme was not a programme that was “part and parcel of the manifesto of the ruling party and it is not in Nigerian constitution, Rafsanjani averred that “It was not done three years ago. It was only started close to election time. So, the allegation by many Nigerians that this is clearly a case of vote buying using public funds goes contrary to our constitution and to having a free and fair election.
“That is why the Independent National Electoral Commission itself has seen this danger. The vote buying we are seeing has transformed to have more official recognition through the acts that unfortunately we are seeing performed by some of the agencies using public funds.
“This is despite the statement by the President that public funds will not be used for his re-election campaign. But this, unfortunately, is contrary to what Nigerians are seeing,” Rafsanjani said.
According to the TIN chairman, mixing election campaigns with “distribution of money” is ill-advised.
However, whereas the Federal Government had argued that the TraderMoni was an empowerment initiative designed to meet the financing need of at least two million petty traders across the country, the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi has described the TraderMoni social welfare scheme of the Federal Government as complete waste of time and resources.
Obi said the Federal Government was just dishing out N10,000.00 each to unknown persons, who cannot be traced or monitored in terms of how they have progressed in their business ventures.
Speaking in Asaba, Delta State, where he was a guest at the product exhibition for over 4,000 beneficiaries of the job creation scheme of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration, Obi noted that “What governor Okowa is doing through the job creation office is training people and giving them the funding to start their own business when you compare it with the TraderMoni. I don’t want to compare them, how can you give people N10,000 without training, who do we even know that they are giving the money, how would they collect the money?”
“Here, we train them and support them with funding. Federal Government should come to Delta State and learn,” Obi said.
While describing what Delta State government is doing as similar to the activities of Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Obi noted that “The best way to ensure an enduring empowerment scheme was to identify, train, empower and consistently monitor the progress of beneficiaries”.
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