Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has halted his visits to markets nationwide to promote the Trader Moni scheme, The PUNCH has learnt.
Osinbajo, it was learnt, has not toured any state to promote Trader Moni in the last one month. However, checks by The PUNCH showed that the programme was still on.
Trader Moni is an initiative of the Federal Government, through Bank of Industry and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme.
The programme is part of the Federal Government social intervention aimed at funding micro business in the country through soft loans beginning from N10, 000.
The programme was launched in August while the Vice-President began his tour in Osun State on September 3, 2018, barely three weeks to the Osun State governorship election.
At the first tour, Osinbajo was accompanied to Iwo Market by the Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola; Dep. Governor of Osun State, Mrs Titilayo Laoye-Tomori; Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi; and other government officials.
The exercise was immediately branded as voter inducement because of its timing.
The Vice-President further took the tour to Lagos markets in company with the then All Progressives Congress governorship candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, and other APC stalwarts.
He visited over 20 states thereafter during the countdown to the polls.
Osinbajo on some occasions combined his tour of markets with door-to-door campaigns where he met with people and asked them to vote for the APC.
Members of the opposition, as well as Transparency International, described the exercise as voter inducement.
The chairman of the anti-corruption organisation, Awwal Rafsanjani, noted that the initiative was an “official use of public funds in the name of TraderMoni to actually induce voters.”
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 have a free and fair election.