TraderMon: Scammers, Allegation Of Vote Buying Mar Scheme

TraderMon: Scammers, Allegation Of Vote Buying Mar Scheme
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Some scammers have converted the ongoing TraderMoni registration exercise into a source of extorting money from potential beneficiaries of the scheme.

BY CHARLES EBI

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When the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari in collaboration with the Bank of Industry, BoI, and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP, launched the ‘Trader Moni’ scheme, the much that was known about it was that it was meant for traders to access loans without collateral security.

But certain persons have allegedly taken advantage of the poor public to extort money from them in pretext of helping them access their share of the federal government money.
Some of the residents who spoke to our reporters expressed worry about the authenticity of the exercise with some saying since the commencement of the registration in the state, they have not seen anybody that has benefitted from the exercise.
They alleged that the exercise is not being regulated by any specific government agency in the state, hence the prospective beneficiaries are left with no option than to roam from one registration agent to another, who have turned the well-intended exercise into a money-making venture at the detriment of the poor masses.
AljazirahNigeria learnt that the self-acclaimed agents charge between huge sums from potential beneficiaries as registration fees. Ibrahim Sadiq, one of the victims who spoke to our reporters said he registered three times in different places through different processes “Initially, the whole thing seems to be so real to me but I became skeptical when I was told that, one can apply as many times as possible. I was introduced by a friend to register using some codes through my mobile phone. But up till this moment, I have not received a penny and I have not seen a single person that actually collected the money.
Another victim of the scam, Malama Sadiya explained how she did her registration. She said, “I heard about the scheme from a family member, that the federal government was sharing the sum of N10, 000 to the Nigerian youths through a code. I was told that one will send the code and it’s free with all networks across Nigeria. When you dial the code a pop-up menu will appear asking you of your details including full name, address before you finally input a four-digit password to personalise the process.
“After a while, the coordinators will send you a message that the registration was successful. At first, I tried it for about four times before it went through and sometimes when I almost get to the final stage they terminate the process saying there was an error.
“I’ve not really seen anyone who received the cash, but I’ve heard that they will first have to screen the people before they send the money and the money is sent to beneficiaries’ mobile phone in form of recharge card from where they would send it to their personal bank accounts.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who has been the face of the microcredit scheme, has been touring local markets, telling market women and their male counterparts that the programme was part of government’s social intervention aimed at funding micro businesses across the country. He says it will help in boosting micro and small-scale businesses, petty trading and commercial activities across the country. As a result of the endemic poverty in the country, many of the traders are grabbing the loans with both arms. That is why the vice president is repeatedly praised the All Progressives Congress, APC government, claiming that no government in the history of the country has ever embarked on such a welfare programme. Wherever he goes for the launch, the event was characterised by fanfare and razzmatazz. The markets usually wear the looks of a day of carnival or political rally. At such markets, traders, through their market associations usually make elaborate preparations for the ceremonial event. That was the situation in Osun, Lagos, Jigawa, Abuja, Cross River, Oyo and several other states where the scheme has been launched. Thereafter, many of the traders await the disbursement of the money patiently.
But coming just a few months to the general elections in the country, the government and the programme have come under severe criticisms largely by the leading opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and its leaders. There are grave allegations of a concerted effort to institutionalise vote-buying through the ‘Trader Moni’ scheme by the ruling party.
For instance, Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate recently accused President Muhamadu Buhari and his government of using the programme as a ‘sophisticated vote-buying’ plot to win the 2019 presidential election. That is also the thinking of many Nigerians.
Last week at a media briefing in Abuja, Saraki bluntly declared that the government was sidelining the opposition from the launching of the programme across the country, thereby creating an impression that it is meant only for supporters of the ruling party. A bewildered Saraki wondered why the Vice President started appearing at the launch of a programme that has been going on since 2015. “The worst part of it is that he goes with the women leaders of his party and governors of his party,” he said.
Saraki suggested that in view of the fact that the money being disbursed is drawn from the federation account; the Vice President should have taken women leaders from other political parties along. “But all I see is APC women leaders. It equates in a way to sophisticated vote-buying because if it’s not vote-buying, you should have been doing this since 2015,” the Senate President lamented.
He also questions why all of a sudden, in 2018, ‘Trader Moni’ became the biggest programme of the government. To further drive home his allegation of vote-buying, Saraki said the party was collecting Permanent Voters Cards, PVC in the process.
But in a counter-statement, the Buhari campaign organisation described Saraki’s position as a wild allegation. It said, “Saraki’s statement makes his position untenable; for it is preposterous for him to criticise the Executive for implementing a programme is in the budget duly passed by the National Assembly which he leads. “The conflict between the Senate President and the executive arm of government is quite understandable. Ever since he abandoned the ruling party to return to the main opposition party like several other top politicians who feel sufficiently dissatisfied with the way the APC is run, he has never been on the same page with the executive arm. Even before he left the party, he disagreed with the leadership on several issues.
The APC further posed a question to Saraki, suggesting that the market-to-market tour of the vice president is part of the continuous process of governance: “Does it mean that the implementation of programmes of government equates to vote-buying? Should governance be suspended because of politics?”
However, that does not seem to address the fundamental issues raised by the Senate President – specifically, having only APC women leaders and governors in the Vice President’s entourage, and making what appears to be a veiled attempt to influence voters with money.
Saraki is not the only notable political figure who has raised the alarm over ‘TraderMoni’. Shehu Sani, a Senator representing Kaduna Central on the platform of the APC in a message he shared on his Twitter handle, subtly admonished beneficiaries of the scheme to collect the money being distributed by the Vice President, yet use their PVCs wisely rather than allow their votes to be bought over. “Oh yea plebeian, collect thy belated cowries coined as ‘Trader Moni’; thou shalt use it wisely and prayerfully; But thou shalt not part with thy PVC and thou shalt not accept an invitation to fly the Broomstick at night,” he admonished sarcastically.
Similarly, another social media message by a woman through WhatsApp has raised more questions than answers. The message, which has gone viral reads: “About two months to the election, the ruling party is going around sharing money in the form of ‘Trader Moni’. Where were they when you couldn’t afford to buy food? Where were they when your child was sent home because of school fees, and you couldn’t afford to pay the fees and your child had to miss so many days at school because you couldn’t afford to pay school fees?”
The message, which dwells extensively on the difficult economic times Nigerian have been going through in recent years further requests the people to “Ask them where they were when the money you used to earn that was enough to feed the family for a month, can no longer feed the family for two weeks; ask them where they were all these years, over three years, when hardship hit the land; when insecurity hit the land, and you couldn’t afford so many things that you could afford before?
They were nowhere to be found. Now it is time for election and they go around under the guise of ‘TraderMoni’, giving people N10, 000 to mortgage your life, the lives of your child, to mortgage the lives of your unborn generation, to be enslaved forever, for you to be kept down, and your child not to have good quality education.
“When they give you N10, 000, ask them about your children who are in the university; who today, are staying at home because ASUU is on strike. When they come with N10, 000, ask them, what you would do with N10, 000. Don’t be fooled, it’s all about the election. To them, you are not a human being. The only thing you’re good for is your thumbprint and that’s what they care for and that’s why just a few months to the election, they come to you with N10, 000. All the while you cried before, they never listened, they closed their doors, they turned their back on you. Think well,” the messenger admonished.
The story that government was sharing Abacha’s loot had gone viral and registration of possible beneficiaries had commenced in every ward with people paying some token to get registered.
Two million petty traders are targeted to benefit from the loan in all the states of the federation. It was gathered that Bank of Industry, which is deploying the new scheme to identify the beneficiaries after their registration, has engaged about 4, 000 enumerators for the exercise.

Also Read:  N10,000 Trader Moni Scheme Not For Campaign Purposes - FG
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