Vice President Yemi Osinbajo addressing an audience in August 2018.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s media aide, Mr Laolu Akande, has criticised the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum over the allegation of vote-buying against the Vice President.
In a statement on Friday, Akande faulted the group for accusing the Vice President of corruption and calling for the suspension of the microcredit scheme – TraderMoni.
Following a meeting held on Wednesday in Abuja, the group had issued a statement in which it alleged that Professor Osinbajo was engaging in ‘advanced vote-buying’.
The statement read in part, “Meeting expressed utter disappointment in the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo for his continued corruption of the electorates in a funny scheme named Tradermoni.
“We noted his odious outing with this corrupt act shortly before the Osun governorship election when he went to dole out cash to would-be voters and distributing forms in which beneficiaries were asked to fill in their PVC details and phone number.
“We demand immediate suspension of this scheme in the manner the VP is going about it presently as it shames the whole anti-corruption campaign of the administration. It is pure bribery of voters!”
Akande, however, described the call by the group as unbelievable and unfortunate.
He noted that such demand was an attack on the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Osinbajo’s aide added that it was a direct confrontation with the millions of Nigerians who benefit from all the programmes, especially those who would be receiving the collateral-free loans by the end of the year.
He said, “It is deceitful for anyone or group to accuse the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, of advance vote-buying through TraderMoni, a micro-credit scheme designed to assist the bottom of the pyramid petty traders nationwide.”
“We do not think the Nigerian people are up for sale, nor can they be bought. Such suggestions are an insult to our collective identity. And calling for the suspension of a scheme that improves the businesses of ordinary, hard working Nigerians, like petty traders, is not only unfair but an attack on the common man.”
Akande explained that the present administration started the SIPs in 2016, and the TraderMoni scheme was part of them.
He insisted that it was false to insinuate that the scheme was meant for advance vote-buying when it was conceived two years ago.