IN June this year the Federal Government announced its intention to introduce the “Trader Moni” scheme as part of its Social Investment Project, SIP.
The scheme, which was activated on September 6, 2018, advances interest- and collateral-free loans starting with N10,000 to the lowest level of market traders (particularly market women and artisans) with a view to upgrading those who pay back up to N50,000.
The Federal Government says the scheme has already been launched in 33 states, with two million people targeted nationwide. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been touring the states to inaugurate the scheme or check how it is being implemented. He has also been meeting with the traders and artisans and encouraging them to get involved.
This is the first time the Federal Government is involving the very bottom of Nigeria’s economic pyramid for direct financial stimulus aimed at creating wealth within the informal sector of the economy. Previous regimes had targeted mostly big economic players, as in Corporate Nigeria and the middle class during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
The Goodluck Jonathan government benefited graduates and young aspiring entrepreneurs through its ‘You Win’ and ‘Sure-P’ programmes. Trader Moni is a laudable development because every sector of the economy needs the support and assistance of government to grow. However, the excitement that this programme elicited has been clouded by allegations that certain elements within the All Progressives Congress, APC, Federal Government are capitalising on it to score cheap political yardage.
For instance, the Vice President chose to launch the scheme in Osun State on September 7, 2018, barely two weeks to the governorship election of Saturday September 22, 2018, while the campaigns were on. The VP was seen flashing the victory sign among the traders.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, accused him of using the scheme for alleged “vote buying”.
Only recently, a senator from Ekiti State, Biodun Olujimi, called on the Senate to investigate the Trader Moni disbursements. She said she had evidence to show that traders were asked to provide details of their Permanent Voters Cards, PVC, Bank Verification Number, BVN, and made to fill forms with “I Stand With Buhari” printed on them. She even alleged that some of the traders were defrauded and paid N8,000 instead of N10,000”.
Though the Media Office of the VP has debunked the claims of asking applicants to supply their PVC and BVN details, we support the call for an unbiased probe of these allegations. The money being disbursed to the traders belongs to the Nigerian people and should not be used to promote the interests of any political party or candidate.
A thorough probe will reveal the truth, and the public has the right to know if indeed it is being abused.