Transparency International, TI, has said that the Trader-Moni scheme, a collateral-free loan initiative, targeted at petty Traders and Artisans, as part of the National Social Investment Programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government, is a form of voter inducement.
The Chairman of the anti-corruption organisation, Awwal Rafsanjani, who spoke on Lunchtime Politics, a programme on Channels Television, noted that, the initiative is an “official use of public funds, in the name of Trader-Moni, to actually induce voters.”
Rafsanjani noted that the Trader-Moni scheme was not a programme that was “part and parcel of the manifesto of the ruling party, and it is not in our Constitution.”
He added: “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.”
The Federal Government had, however, argued that the Trader-Moni was an empowerment initiative, designed to meet the financing need of at least two million petty Traders across the country, anchored by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
However, Rafsanjani said that if the government had Trader-Moni as a policy plan, it should have begun its implementation earlier than a few weeks to the elections.
He stated that, no matter how well-intentioned, implementing the scheme close the elections would give different signals to Nigerians across the Federation, adding that, if the government was sincere about the scheme, it would have started before the elections drew this close.
According to the Chairman, mixing election campaigns with “distribution of money”, is ill-advised.
“Clearly, this is vote-buying, as far as I am concerned”, he added.
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