Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Thursday refuted insinuations that the ongoing TraderMoni programme powered by the Federal Government and the Bank of Industry (BOI) to empower petty traders, was a covert ploy of vote buying by President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the 2019 general election.
Speaking after an inspection and demonstration of the command centre of the TraderMoni programme at the BOI headquarters, he argued that there was no way the programme could have been set up primarily to secure votes as being alleged, adding that it was approved by the National Assembly before its implementation across the country.
According to him: “Anybody who calls TraderMoni vote buying is absurd, you can see it for yourself that this is a programme that has affected millions of lives.”
Osinbajo said: “In any case, it was approved by the senate and the entire National Assembly. If a programme is duly approved by the National Assembly and we are going out and implementing that programme and doing it as vigorously as possible, I don’t understand where anyone will get that kind of notion from, it’s a very weird notion.”
Osinbajo disclosed that over 1.5 million petty traders had benefited from the programme which targets to capture at least 2 million traders before the end of the year.
He described the programme as the largest currently running in Africa.
While noting that petty traders were the largest network in the commercial value chain, he further revealed that Trader Moni was an offshoot and extension of President Muhammadu Buhari’s earlier project under the Katsina foundation, where petty traders were empowered with N2,000 to boost their businesses.
He said: “We intend to ensure that as many petty traders as possible get into this programme. It is a very important programme for us and the single reason is that petty traders are the largest number of people in our commercial value chain, and we want to be able to touch them.
“Nobody really wants to give petty traders loan; banks don’t want to give them loan so with the very innovative programme developed by the bank of industry, in association with the social investment programme by the federal government, we now have a huge opportunity to enrich a large number of petty traders in a systematic, credible and monitorable way that we can monitor and evaluate what is going on; this is exciting.
“I am very happy about the programme for the fact that it really does in essence what the president would want to do himself. He was chairman of something called the Katsina foundation giving very small traders N2000 as loans from the foundation.
“For him this was very important and he felt that it could be replicated in a national scale to find that people pay back and get more. What BOI has done is to give us a professional and commercial way of doing it in such a way that it will work and we will get the payment and millions of people will benefit.
“This is the largest of its kind in the whole of Africa, I don’t know if there is anything larger in the world, maybe India. We ere looking at something about 20bn, we hope we will be able to spend that but a lot depends on availability of funds,” he added.
However, the Managing Director BoI, Mr. Olukayode Pitan, explained that the TraderMoni programme was designed solely to help traders who have difficulty funding small businesses, access to payable loans within a period of time.
He said: “It is their money directly, it is a scheme of the Federal Government but it is not for free. The idea is that government wants to help people who have been having issues raising small capital to do a lot of small businesses. It is not money you get and not pay back, but there are incentives when you pay back and you can get up to N100,000,” he said.
Culled from thisday
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