Friday, June 14, 2024

On Remi Tinubu’s Market Moni 2.0

The wife of Nigeria’s president, Oluremi Tinubu, has launched Market Moni 2.0 to target 1.5 million women across 109 markets in the 109 senatorial districts within the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Market Moni was first launched during the administration of the former president, Muhammadu Buhari, as a federal government-backed social and economic intervention program, consisting of zero collateral and interest-free loans to mostly market men and women, traders, and other micro-business owners.

The federal government says it is part of its suite of programs under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP). Through GEEP, the federal government plans to cascade financial inclusion down to the grassroots, considering the important role played by petty traders, market men and women, and artisans in keeping the economy going daily.

Social welfare programs like Market Moni are often deployed as a tool for poverty reduction and economic development in developing countries. While these programs aim to address issues of economic inequality and vulnerability, their effectiveness and pragmatism remain questionable. Is it for the short or long term? Is it to help people just get by? Is it an economic tool to ensure loyalty to the government in power?

The recently launched Market Moni 2.0 in Nigeria provides an opportunity to examine the complexities of social welfare programs in the context of a developing nation. To any discerning person, the potential benefits of Market Moni 2.0 are evident. By providing access to capital, the program can empower individuals to expand their businesses, leading to increased income, job creation, and sustained economic activity. Moreover, the focus on women also tilts social discourse towards gender equality and women’s economic participation.

However, the pragmatism of social welfare programs like Market Moni 2.0 is beset by concerns about sustainability, corruption, and political motivations. The long-term sustainability of such programs depends on the government’s ability to continue to fund operating costs and provide ongoing support to beneficiaries. Additionally, the risk of corruption and misappropriation of funds remains a persistent concern in Nigeria, given the country’s ineffective institutional governance systems.

Furthermore, the allocation of generous welfare packages to government officials while simultaneously advocating for social welfare programs for the poor raises questions about the sincerity and commitment to addressing economic inequality. This discrepancy erodes public trust and undermines the effectiveness of social welfare initiatives.

While Market Moni may be seen as a pragmatic approach to social welfare in a developing country like Nigeria, it is essential to acknowledge broader concerns about the allocation of resources. Instances where government officials, including the president and his spouse, allocate generous welfare packages to themselves while in office, definitely raise questions about the equitable distribution of resources and the sincerity of the government’s commitment to the welfare of the entire population.

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