The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was at Garki and Utako markets to flag off the disbursement of loans under the ‘Trader Moni’ programme to registered petty traders. REGINA OTOKPA captured the reaction of beneficiaries
Driving into the market amidst loud blaring sirens and heavy security, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo again made the day of many ordinary Nigerians, who struggle day and night to make ends meet by selling their wares in the market.
From the moment he stepped down from his car at Utako market, he was immediately surrounded by a mammoth crowd of praise singers, who were drumming, singing and screaming: ‘Sai Baba’ , Sai Baba at the top of their voices. It was not an easy task for the security and protocol personnel, who struggled to ensure the VP was safe from the pressing crowd.
Osinbajo’s market day out was aimed at having a one-on-one conversation with beneficiaries of Federal Government’s new loan initiative for petty traders called Trader Moni. The programme, which provides no interest loan to struggling traders, is a progressive loan scheme which affords beneficiaries who successfully pay back their loan within six months, to access higher amounts of loan starting from N10,000 to N15,000, N20,000 and all the way through to N100,000.
Inside Abuja checks revealed that after the registration process, which involves mandatory capture of petty trader within two minutes in the data base, it could take between 48 hours to a maximum of two weeks for beneficiaries to receive the loan because of the process involved.
Moving from one beneficiary to another, Osinbajo urged them to ensure they get the money to enable them expand their businesses, and endeavour to pay back within the allotted time to access the higher packages.
“Make sure you collect the money because what we are doing now is to empower everybody selling in the market,” the V.P said.
A cross section of traders, who spoke to Inside Abuja, saw his visit as a form of encouragement and acknowledgment that government was aware of the plight of Nigerians, given the harsh economic situation confronting the citizenry.
An excited Joyce Kalu, was more overwhelmed with having a few minutes interaction with the number two citizen of the country, than to be given all the millions in the world.
Still struggling to gain admission into any of the tertiary institutions, Joyce helps her mother in the market every once in a while when Mrs. Kalu is not able to make it to the market.
She noted that although business was no longer booming as it used to, her family was content with the little sales they were able to make daily.
“Business is moving little by little. It depends on how people come into the market. If people are many, then we can sell more but we thank God for the one we are seeing.”
However, majority of traders lamented that the escalating price of commodities is gradually assuming a worrisome trend. Collectively, government has been urged to alleviate the pains and struggle of the masses who voted them into power by effecting policies that were in favour of the masses.
According to a meat seller and Trader Moni beneficiary, Mr. Olaiya Isyaea, the loan was not the solution petty traders were looking for saying, “what is the point getting loan to expand our business when patronage is low? As it is, even N100,000 cannot help us.”
Noting that selling fresh meat daily was becoming a difficult task by the day, as a result of poor patronage from customers, he explained that while the poor masses are keeping off meat stands due to paucity of funds, majority of rich Nigerians rather patronise departmental stores than the market.
Isyaea, who left Ibadan for Abuja with hopes of a better livelihood, said President Muhammadu Buhari has disappointed the expectations of Nigerians, especially traders who believed his administration would usher in a period of prosperity.
“Buhari said a lot of things he wants to do for us. We believed him and that was why a lot of us voted for him but now, we are all regretting why we did.
“Although he wants the best for Nigerians, the people surrounding him are confusing him left and right. We have everything we need to live better lives in this country; the youths of this country are not functioning and this is all because the people that have been ruling us are deceiving us.
“About three years ago when I bought local rice last, it was better than foreign rice but since it finished, I couldn’t get another one. Our president, Vice president and senate president should please help us so that Nigerians will enjoy. They should help us traders most especially; if the rich comes into the market and patronise us everybody will be happy.
“Things are no longer the way they used to be. The quantity of meat I used to buy for N20,000 I now buy for N35,000. This meat on this table is yesterday’s meat because no patronage. I can’t remember the last time I sold all my meat in one day.
“Before now, we buy a cow between N100,000 and N120, 000 but now we buy N200,000 N250,000. There was a time I bought a cow for N400,000,” he lamented.
Another meat seller, Abolora Mojeed, lamented that at the rate at which things were getting more expensive and difficult to sell, the rate of crime would soon increase.
“If things continue like this crime will increase. Nobody wants to work hard before they enjoy. This is yesterday’s meat. It is already shortage because we already bought it expensive but when there is factory for cow where they train cows, then they will sell at a good price. We will not have to wait until aboki bring cows before we can get ours.
“Other African countries don’t have as much resources as we do in Nigeria, not even America. Yet, we are the ones suffering the most in the world,” Mojeed said.
In the last couple of days, the Trader Moni Programme has generated a lot of debates in the polity. While some analysts have hailed the soft loan scheme as a means of poverty alleviation, others think it is a systemic inducement of prospective voters ahead of the 2019 presidential elections.
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