While fielding questions from participants at an interactive session organised by Good Leadership Initiative on Sunday in Lekki, Lagos, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said it is extremely dishonourable for the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara to label TraderMoni, one of the social investments programme of the current administration as vote buying.
“I don’t want you to believe some of the propaganda of the opposition on TraderMoni. First, I think it will be very useful if you follow what this TraderMoni is about. You know, The Senate President and the speaker of the House of Representatives were most dishonourable in describing the TraderMoni as vote buying. I say it is dishonourable because this is a programme authorised by the National Assembly. It is in the budget,”Osinbajo said.
“Both the Senate President and the speaker must have approved it before we could even spend money on it. Besides, after approving i t, they delayed the budget and we started implementing the budget in August. So, I don’t understand how anybody, who after approving it, but then defecting to another party will then describe a major government programme as vote buying. I think it is extremely dishonourable and I dont think we should countenance that propaganda from them at all.
He went further to justify the TraderMoni scheme as necessary in taking people out of poverty.
“The TraderMoni is a programme is run by the Bank of Industry. I do not carry money into the market place and give people money. It is purely electronic.
“There is a young Nigerian company called Eyo Owo, and other Nigerian companies that do enumeration. So what they do is, they go into the market, look for the petty traders, take their data and all of that. They ensure that the profile is right for those individuals who will be given the TraderMoni. When they have done that, they have an back-end, where they vet and then begin to make disbursements.
“We start with N10,000. These are petty traders whose inventory is usually no more than N2,000 or N3,000. When you look at somebody who is selling plantain or somebody who is selling a tray full of eggs.
“The problem many of s have is not just a problem in this side of the world. It is a problem of the elites. They don’t understand poverty, they haven’t seen it and they haven’t experienced it. So they can easily say ‘What is N10,000?’
“When they get the N10,000, once they pay back, it is automatic, they get N15,000, when they pay that too, they get N20,000, all the way up to N100,000. The whole idea is that these guys are at the bottom of the pyramid in our commercial value chain and they are the vast majority of people who trade in our country”.
“People keep talking about getting Nigerians out of poverty, how do we do it? What has worked in India and Bangladesh is what we are doing. Of course it is not vote buying.
“We used to give out MarketMoni before TraderMoni. 400,000 people got it and nobody heard of it because I didnt show up there. Once I showed up, the profile of the programme improved. Everybody now knows MarketMoni because I decided to join them in launching it in several states.
He concluded by telling the audience not to listen to funny individuals who are trying to put the efforts of the FG in bad light.