Friday, 5th February 2021 was another day of drama in Nigeria which is fast becoming a theatre of absurdities with recent events across the federation.
Nigerians were still yet to come to terms with Thursday’s reports that Faisal Maina, son of Abdulrasheed Maina, a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), has fled to the United States. Both of them are been prosecuted on charges of money laundering.
As with his father who jumped bail in 2020 but was rearrested in Niger Republic, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, it got information that Faisal sneaked to the U.S through the same country.
Imagining where the entire Maina and Son series was headed, a release by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); prohibiting financial institutions in Nigeria from dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchange, hit social media.
Nigerians on social media have expressed shock and displeasure in the policy and many described it as a continuation of the autocratic actions of the apex bank, following the youth-led #EndSARS protests of October 2020.
For Author and Social Media Influencer, J.J Omojuwa, the move will “literally kill Nigerian companies and also harm foreign investment,” while stressing that it was beyond a case of losing some money, but a case of companies closing shop.
“Sometimes, it makes sense, that if a government cannot help its people, it should at least not get in their way. The Nigerian government has never ever innovated. Nigerians have often led the government in the direction of innovation. Government sees, takes a cue and then tries to help them scale,” he said.
Many others have pointed to how backward the policy is and the federal government’s populist approach to bringing people out of poverty with stipends and handouts. For the Buhari administration, N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers, Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP) and others are the only way out rather than sustainable job creation efforts and creating enabling environment for private investments.
There would be no need for a prophet to foretell that this new policy will have huge effect on everyday Nigerians who carry out legitimate trade with the currencies in a bid to make ends meet in the midst of an “excruciating environment and economy,” but it will be shocking to see that the federal government doesn’t reverse itself on this.
And with conversations springing up on how affected parties can continue their cryptocurrency trading in neighbouring Ghana, it only takes little time before our fintech companies, willing investors and our best brains relocate to the serious minded country.
Congratulations to the Federal Government for its efforts in ensuring “Ease of Doing Business.” Sorry, I meant to say; “Ease of Undoing Business” or even Killing Businesses.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Journalist, Political Analyst and Satirist with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.