By ‘Dayo Peters
I was one of those who believed very strongly that TraderMoni was vote buying and this was so for obvious reasons. Firstly, the disbursement of funds to traders happened too close to the campaign for 2019 elections, even though the claim was that the senate approved the budget late.
Secondly, I thought it as a project of the Vice President’s to attract the masses, instead of truly being a social welfare programme. I also thought it would end after the elections.
Also, there were too many news but it obviously now seems like most of them were fake ones surrounding TraderMoni, including the fact that cash was disbursed to traders directly, but since the institutionalization of the NSIP was announced on Independent Day, I must further admit that many, including myself, were wrong about the intentions for the social welfare programmes.
My change of heart which came after more thorough investigation (if I may say so myself) has spurred me to submit this piece aimed at enlightening others, just as I have found enlightenment in regards to the SIPs.
The Federal Government of Nigeria established the National Social Investments Programmes (NSIP) in 2016, to tackle poverty and hunger across the country. The primary aim of the programmes under the scheme is to provide and distribute resources to the class of the nation’s vulnerable population at the very bottom of the economic chain; these include children, youth and women.
TraderMoni is one of the various National Social Investment Programmes, belonging to the family ‘Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme’ (GEEP) alongside MarketMoni and FarmerMoni. GEEP is a micro-lending intervention that targets traders, artisans, enterprising youth, farmers and women in particular, by providing loans between 10,000 and 100,000 at no monthly cost to beneficiaries.
Since inception, these programmes combined and supervised by the Office of the Vice President, have supported more than 4 million beneficiaries nationwide through a completely transparent process supported by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning (MBNP) and other notable MDAs with aligned goals.
However, of the lot, TraderMoni has strangely garnered the most attention and has therefore been the most scrutinized, most attacked and the most critiqued both by those who claim to know, and those who are totally clueless as to what the program represents or aims at achieving. It has in past been labeled a tool of vote buying for the current administration when most of the time ( because I can recall one of such coincidences) there are no ongoing/impending election or voting process at any level in the benefiting communities. These mostly ignorant bashings have however in no way decelerated or impeded its progress, as according to my findings, the program itself has recorded great success with its target; over 1.9 million people in its first phase, many of whom seem to have no reservations at testifying openly to how the scheme has impacted their lives positively. They were all eager to recount their experiences to me.
It is no doubt that social welfare forms the key to the growth and development of any country; were this untrue, countries across the world (including the acclaimed developed ones) would have no provision in the form of institutions to ensure the social welfare of its citizens. Countries like China, Japan and even the United States have distinct institutions that see to this. Imagine my euphoria then, when on the 1st of October 2019, as the country celebrated her 59th Independence, President Muhammadu Buhari while delivering his speech on air announced among many things, that a ministry had been specifically created – Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development – to henceforth manage the affairs of the Social Investment Programmes. I blinked repeatedly in disbelief; Nigeria had just joined the company of elite nations that valued the social welfare of its citizens so much that they institutionalized social investment programmes!
For those who may not understand my excitement, I had wanted for so long – after my research and positive conclusion – a vehicle that helps to highlight the sterling achievements of these programmes especially TraderMoni (as it has received the most derision); institutionalizing the initiative puts to rest the talks of vote buying and enlightens the public as to what these programmes really are. Now here is what forms the basis of my excitement; the social investment programmes getting their own ministry ultimately assures their sustainability, continuity and longevity particularly because any government, irrespective of the party, may come into power and TraderMoni cum its sister initiatives will remain and continue to ensure that wealth is distributed among the great people of Nigeria, thereby rescuing more of her citizens from the torturing embrace of poverty.
This is a brilliant move by the Buhari/Osinbajo administration worthy of all ovation and applause.
-‘Dayo Peters writes from Abuja