By Bennett Oghifo
The anti-corruption agency, Transparency International Nigeria, has said the federal government is engaging in pre-paid vote-buying with its TraderMoni scheme, a collateral-free loan the government is giving to small traders.
However, the government says it gives out the loans as part of its National Social Investment Programme and that it would enable these small traders grow their business if well utilised.
Regardless, Chairman of TI, Awwal Rafsanjani, who was a guest on Channels Television yesterday, said, “the TraderMoni scheme is not a programme but part and parcel of the manifesto of the ruling party and it is not in Nigerian constitution.
“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.
“Official use of public funds in the name of TraderMoni is to actually induce voters.
“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.
“Clearly, this is vote buying, as far as I am concerned. Official use of public funds in the name of TraderMoni is to actually induce voters.”