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The statement purportedly attributed to former president
Olusegun Obasanjo regarding Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and the Federal
Government’s TraderMoni microcredit scheme if, indeed true and accurate, is
most unfortunate, according to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on
Media & Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande.
While responding to media inquiries regarding the former
president’s comments over the weekend, Akande noted that “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
According to Akande, the former President has demonstrated
“a surprising but complete misunderstanding of the workings of TraderMoni, that
is if we assume there is no mischief intended. “
Firstly, the Vice President does not personally distribute
money during his visits to the markets. He goes there to assess the progress of
the implementation and to create awareness for a programme designed to meet the
financing need of 2 million petty traders across the country in the first
Secondly, while one will not bother to further address the
issue of timing of the implementation since such issues are now known to be
political posturing, it is important to note that TraderMoni is being actively
implemented across all states of the federation and the FCT. It is not only
Lagos and Abuja as was insinuated.
These petty traders at the bottom of the economic ladder,
with an inventory often less than N5,000, are beneficiaries of the TraderMoni
scheme which provides N10,000 collateral/interest-free loans to them,
empowerment that improves their small businesses, their families, while also
contributing significantly to the economy.
Thirdly, in what is certainly a curious comment, the former
President has also been quoted as describing the TraderMoni scheme as idiotic.
To label such people-friendly scheme as idiotic is not only an absurdity, it is
also an affront to the sensibilities of these hard working Nigerians, the
beneficiaries of the micro-credit scheme.
For emphasis, the Bank of Industry implements the Government
Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP, one part of our Social Investment
Programme. Enumeration Agents have been engaged to visit the markets and other
points where petty traders are found to confirm that they are traders and also
take their biometric information for recording purposes. After the enumeration,
the N10,000 collateral free loans are then disbursed electronically through the
petty traders’ phones.
TraderMoni is designed to meet the needs of the larger
population of petty traders at the bottom of the pyramid who do not meet the
more stringent criteria of BVN, bank accounts, market associations,
cooperatives, required for bigger Market Moni loans.
Under GEEP – which has MarketMoni, FarmerMoni and
TraderMoni, at least 1.5 million Nigerians are already beneficiaries of the
three-pronged approach of GEEP, while N-Power has created jobs for 500,000
young Nigerians graduates, besides non-graduates. Also, almost 300,000
Nigerians have benefitted from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), which is
given to the poorest and most vulnerable among us, and over 9.2 million school
pupils are being fed a free meal daily in 26 states under the Home Grown School
It bears repetition that higher economic growth potentials
are associated with lower income inequality. This makes a most overwhelming
case for welfare payments like the social investment schemes like the TraderMoni/MarketMoni
schemes. Such a micro-credit scheme provides a higher rate of inclusion into
the financial bracket and is crucial in lifting hardworking people out of
poverty as has been the case in other countries like India and Brazil.
Fourthly, the former president also rehashed discredited
claims suggesting that TraderMoni beneficiaries were required to tender their
PVCs, and questioned the timing of the implementation.
Let me, therefore, state again that beneficiaries of
TraderMoni are not required to show their Personal Voters Cards (PVCs) or any
document indicating their political affiliations to qualify for the loans. This
is why the enumeration is done in the open markets and wherever the traders ply
their trade. This issue has been addressed several times by the Presidency in
the public space. Therefore the former president’s alleged comments smirk of
outright mischief as it regurgitates blatant falsehood.
Equally, if the former president had conducted a simple act
of diligence, he would have found that the National Assembly had approved this
programmes and budgeted for them duly.
When President Muhammadu Buhari came into office, one of the
major hinges of this administration was to uplift the common man out of poverty
and ensure the welfare of ordinary Nigerians. TraderMoni is one of such schemes
conceived in 2016 under the Social Investment Programme of this administration.
Being a former president, Chief Obasanjo ordinarily should
appreciate the impact of such far-reaching social investment schemes, which has
provided what is now the largest social safety net for millions of Nigerians
and is unprecedented in the nation’s history.
Again, the former president’s attack on TraderMoni and the
person of the Vice President is an indicator that he may be wittingly or
unwittingly playing to the sinister script of the opposition party to spread
falsehood and attack the social investment programmes of the Buhari administration,
which champions such impactful schemes, and which is now attracting the praise
and commendation of Nigerians everywhere.
It is pertinent to state that the false allegations against
TraderMoni raised again by the former president is sadly a rehash of baseless
claims previously made by leading chieftains of the opposition Peoples
Democratic Party, whose record of profligacy, corruption and mismanagement
clearly show it has no agenda to uplift the common man or improve the lives of
Finally, attacks such as this on a scheme that benefits the
masses of our people is a direct attack on the people and this kind of conduct
does not reflect very well on a former president but is only self-denigrating
and of no public value. As is already now obvious, the generality of the
Nigerian people will not only reject that attack but will also condemn its
source. We, therefore, urge the former president to be far more circumspect and
more public-spirited in his utterances going forward.