Atiku Abubakar opposes Bitcoin ban

OBINNA EZUGWU

Nigeria’s former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has kicked against the ban on cryptocurrency exchange by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), noting that the country needs to open its economy and not close it.

The CBN had in a letter to commercial banks on Friday, banned them from facilitating Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency transactions.

In the letter signed by Mr. Bello Hassan, its Director of Banking Supervision, the apex bank said, “The Central of Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) circular of January 12, 2017 ref FPR/DIR/GEN/C1R,06/010 which cautioned Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs), Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) and members of the pubic so the risk associated with transactions In crypto currency refers,” the letter read.

“Father to earlier regulatory directives on the subject, the Bank hereby wishes to remind regulated institutions that dealing in crypto curencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited. Accordingly, all DMBs.

“NBFIs and OFIs are directed to identify persons and/or entities transacting in or operating crypto currency exchanges within tier systemsand ensure that such accounts are closed immediately. Please note that breaches of this directive will attract severe regulatory sanctions. This letter is with immediate effect.”

But reacting to the decision in a statement on Saturday, the former vice president argued that the number one challenge facing Nigeria is youth unemployment, and government should not compound the problem by further denying the youth opportunities.

“In fact,” he said, ” it (youth unemployment) is not a challenge, it is an emergency. It affects our economy and is exacerbating insecurity in the nation.

“What Nigeria needs now, perhaps more than ever, are jobs and an opening up of our economy, especially after yesterday’s report by the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that foreign capital inflow into Nigeria is at a four year low, having plummeted from $23.9 billion in 2019 to just $9.68 billion in 2020.

“Already, the nation suffered severe economic losses from the border closure and the effects of the #COVID19 pandemic. This is definitely the wrong time to introduce policies that will restrict the inflow of capital into Nigeria, and I urge that the policy to prohibit the dealing and transaction of cryptocurrencies be revisited.
“It is possible to regulate the sub-sector and prevent any abuse that may be damaging to national security. That may be a better option, than an outright shutdown.

“There is already immense economic pressure on our youths. It must be the job of the government, therefore, to reduce that pressure, rather than adding to it.

“We must create jobs in Nigeria. We must expand the economy. We must remove every impediment towards investments. We owe the Nigerian people that much.”