Atiku Abubakar, former vice president, says the federal government should prioritise job creation and opening of the economy rather than closing it.
He was reacting to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) order directing non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs), and other financial institutions (OFIs) to close accounts of persons or entities involved in cryptocurrency transactions within their systems.
In statement on Saturday, Atiku said the economy already suffered a decline as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and fall in prices of crude oil.
The former vice president said now is a wrong time to adopt a policy discouraging investment in cryptocurrencies, adding that the CBN directive should be revisited.
“The number one challenge facing Nigeria is youth unemployment. In fact, it is not a challenge, it is an emergency. It affects our economy, and is exacerbating insecurity in the nation,” the statement reads.
“What Nigeria needs now, perhaps more than ever, are jobs and an opening up of our economy, especially after today’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.”
Atiku recommended a regulation of the subsector rather than shutting it down.
He said the government should remove impediments and work towards creating jobs to reduce the burden on youth.
“It is possible to regulate the sub sector and prevent any abuse that may be inimical to national security. That may be a better option, than an outright shutdown,” it reads.
“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.”
Nigerians have criticised the CBN directive, accusing the government of heightening the sufferings of its people.
DJ Switch, Nigerian disc jockey-turned-activist, has condemned the ban and accused the federal government of promoting poverty.