Trader Moni - A vote-buying scheme: Says Transparency International
Awwal Rafsanjani, the chairman of Transparency International Nigeria, has described the Federal Government's Trader Moni scheme a vote-buying plot to induce voters ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Trader Moni is one of the government's initiative under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), a programme targeted towards awarding collateral-free loans to two million petty traders across the country.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has become the face of the programme as he's launched it in several markets in many states in the country over the past few months.
While speaking during an interview on Channels Television's Lunchtime Politics, Rafsanjani said the programme is a case of vote-buying using public funds to ensure the return of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
He said the fact the programme kicked off only close to the elections is suspicious especially as it's not part of the manifesto of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said, "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.
"Clearly, this is vote buying, as far as I am concerned."
Push-back against Trader Moni
The Buhari-led government has had to defend the scheme against allegations from different quarters that it's an attempt to induce voters.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, branded it "sophisticated vote-buying" in November 2018, and a former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, earlier this week branded it "an outrightly idiotic programme".
He also alleged that there is something "sinister" about the programme that's tied to a plot to rig the election by collecting the permanent voters cards of beneficiaries.
In response, Osinbajo's spokesperson, Laolu Akande, said the former president's outrage against the programme was misinformed and full of "blatant falsehood".
"It is either that the former leader is ignorant of the true workings of Trader Moni and the role of the Vice President in its implementation or perhaps he is on a mischievous mission," he said.
He also clarified that beneficiaries of the programme are not required to show their PVCs or any document indicating their political affiliations to qualify for the loans.