The National Association of Nigerian Traders has commended the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the provision of One hundred and forty billion Naira (N140 billion) in the 2016 budget, for allocation to traders, market women and other artisan (SMEs) across the country.
This was contained in a press release by the government agency and signed by the Secretariat President, Ken UKAOHA.
Ukaoha said that this is the first time any government in Nigeria has recognised the role of traders as the heartbeat of the nation’s economy and made such provisions that would directly target at them to recognise the role of traders as critical partners of change and agents in the redistribution of wealth through the circulation of goods and services across the country.
“This is the surest demonstration of the strategy to jump-starting and stimulating the almost comatose economy, as a bait for increased productivity, employment generation and ultimate reduction of poverty especially among the poor and vulnerable section of the Nigerian society”
In another vein, Ukaoha wants the fund to be effectively directed at the targeted group by ensuring that the selection and disbursement processes are devoid of political, party affiliation, and all forms of ethnic sentiments.
He cited that such previous meant for people to stimulate the economy have rather promoted party affiliations, enriched party supporters, and created ethnic bias and other sentiments that frustrated the original policy intention.
“The criteria for selection of beneficiaries, the mode of disbursement and the repayment strategy should be made crystal clear as these still remain opaque to Nigerians. We are concerned that if these are not quickly put in place, the laudable initiative may go the way of other economic stimulants and facility packages designed by past administrations which never achieved their objectives.
“Our further concern is that the banks through which previous facilities were administered ended as siphoning conduit for the same bank officials and unscrupulous politicians who till date can neither account for such facilities or accurately evaluate the value addition or measure the overall impact thereof to the economy”, he advised.
He said that the criteria for selection of beneficiaries must be for people that want to deal in locally made goods and agricultural commodities.
He believes that the fund would create the required visible interlink between agriculture, industry and commerce which are key to diversification of the economy as canvassed by the administration.
“The fund provide space to retain and recalculate within the country rather than escape to other countries where they would create jobs, increase productivity and boost/improve the production or manufacturing sector of other countries”
He called on the Office of the Vice President, the Honourable Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) and other relevant MDAs to convenes an urgent meeting of stakeholders to design transparent and strategic approaches for achieving the objectives of the fund.
“It is instructive that government acts fast on this as it would actually enliven and stimulate the economy, improve liquidity in the system and the redistribution of wealth that would galvanise the ailing economy”, he urged.