Before we go on with the main body of this piece theme, it is important to emphasize, in line with the convictions that “economy problem of society – not only the practical ones about what is to be produce, but also the theoretical problems of ascertaining the facts and the relations among facts – cannot be rationally posted except in terms of definite, concretized and explicit value premises.” Succinctly, even at the level of national and international policy, economics has proved to be not only of statecraft and economic philosophy, but individual and group contributions in analytical and techniques. For this showed in definite, concretized and explicit value premises that over the years’ impact humanity, either under the current ideology of private ownership of means of production. To say that we do not care about ideology is to “profess our opportunistic inclinations or our innate incompetence to assimilate the existential conditions of man.” It is not the intention of this piece to seek approbation from any quarters. Neither do we intend to be “captive intellectuals playing to the gallery of local or international opinionated views alone. The intention of this essay is simply to contribute to a better understanding of our present nightmarish economic and monetary developmental problems and to point to a possible package of solutions.
Let us then briefly examine a number of reasons why cryptocurrency, as so far gained acceptance in Nigeria and Africa at large among our digital youths. Granted that the graduate’s unemployment is huge, coupled with the unlimited access to internet through citizens social media activism has opened up the space for young Africans to explore. One cannot forget in hurry the impact and records breaking internet fraud stars created in the last one decade, culminating from cyber crimes going virtual with it profits. Meanwhile, activities from this wittingly or unwittingly, stultified the growth of African nations intend development, especially with illicit funding of terrorism, violent extremism and looted money laundry to overseas.
Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin are digital and virtual platform that in the last three years as gained currency among internet financial experts. The availability of this medium that is generating billions of dollars in return on investment is appealing to many youths all around the world. Investors and experts alike in this sector claimed that it safe, clean and less in toxic risk from the norms of internet banking and financial deals we are used to before now. Major cryptocurrencies include Coinbase, Gemini, Bitcoin and Binance. Moreso, crypto currency is leading through what is now known in the digital financial platform as “Block Chain Technology”, this many of its users consider as the “future way to financial transaction”. In addition, it has been alluded that crypto work through what is generally gained on an era system called ‘decentralization’ where single crypto has it use case which gives it the value of appreciation, profit, increase and no individual or group controls. Significant to it is the “project backing” it up. The opportunity to make money at quick succession drew many youths into the sector, especially has it provided succor of engagement in financial and trading literacy. Consequently also, many take advantage of this sector to make ends meet and avoid poverty, while academy and training outfits sprung up all around major cities in the country were citizens are trained and receiving mentorship. Controversially, then, came the hammer of warning from the Central Bank of Nigeria to Deposit Money Bank on engaging in cryptocurrency.
The CBN circular to Deposit Money Banks in Nigeria on 5th February 2021 clarifies its position and what is expected of DMBs especially to “close the account of any cryptocurrency holder and nothing to the fact that cryptocurrency is not accepted legal tender in Nigeria.” The apex bank added also that any “DMBs that failed to obey the directive in the circular will face strict sanctions.” Though, this fiat announcement by CBN has generated lots of opprobrium in the country with mixture of misinterpretation, fake news digression coupled with deep anger against the Federal Government of Nigeria. In less than 72hours later came another statement from the apex bank on Sunday 7th February, 2021 stating the reasons why DMBs must close the account of cryptocurrencies in the country, maintaining that cryptocurrencies are issued under “unregulated and unlicensed medium in Nigeria and it goes against the CBN critical mandate. Similarly, the apex bank said that the “anonymous nature of cryptocurrency made it mandatory for DMBs to desist from crypto transaction”. According, to CBN it has the “responsibility to protect the Nigerian economy and its people.” The foregoing directive from the CBN is based on its status as the custodian of our national monetary policy, with stakeholders making inputs. Essentially, also the CBN made clarification that the directive is subsequent to is 2017 directive to DMBs warning on the risk factors associated in dealing in this form of virtual financial transaction. In the same vein, most central banks around the world are also putting out warning on this. However, we can understand the frustration of Nigerians against the CBN directive; it is important to say here that the announcements have not helped matters based on the argument from beneficiaries of cryptocurrencies. Many consider it as an affront, a destabilization and outright distortion of innovative Nigerian youth’s means of livelihood. Concomitantly, since the government has failed and have not done anything authentic to get youths engaged but penetrating the space of the youths with regulation and policy to limit their financial wellbeing and enlargement.
Arising from the foregoing, many financial analysts and direct traders of cryptocurrency demonstrate full understanding of the intricacies of the CBN directive, but what they are yet to comprehend is the obnoxious character of monetary capitalist all around the world. Again, cryptocurrency gaining acceptance by many does not equate it to what monetarist are interested in, arguably, that it is going to erode their relevance. Magnificently as we all agree, the world in moving on the light speed courtesy of the fourth revolution through ICT and virtual digital network. What comes to mind is how as the global economy and financial institution and organization perceived the growing acceptance of Crypto, Bitcoin and other virtual medium that are in way posing alternative to how international businesses and economics dealing is done and paid for. While Africans and Nigerians in general must be mindful of this new trend without been trapped and become impetuous to a platform that is intended to free people, not only materially, but also intellectually.
Olamilekan is a Political Economist & Development Researcher writes via [email protected]
Critically, our unproductive situation is very well reflected in much of the economy circle. Capitalist mode of production inherited from colonialism is basically is at fault here. And to ask Africans, exponents or advocates of embracing virtual transaction should remember that our economy integration gain is to buy, so what are we selling? Again what services are were rendering? This is precisely the reason for concern under the searchlight of rigorous intellectual probing. This probing attempt is for us not to be slavishly engrossed, but realistic and deeper understanding of the peculiarities of given social and economic environment, and to see how crypto and other virtual currencies transaction would not further distort and destabilize our fragile domestic currencies and larger economy production.
As far as we are concerned, even with the claim that cryptocurrencies and other virtual trading is reducing unemployment and taking many out of poverty is arguably. We are still embellished in the core of the capitalist economic idea of which virtual economic transaction is part of (for instance, the questions about the exploitative nature of the capitalist mode of production, surplus-value, exchange, the preferable mode of control of economic power, etc.) is bearing in crypto and digital economy. We want to see change made progressively and consistently in a direction Africans and Nigeria at large is not left out in this game, but must own up to initial, direct and applied local inventiveness, that would insulate our economic from virtual shocks. In recognition of benefits in crypto, Nigerians in particular must begin to map its own essential agenda of actions and policies for obliterating in our own way, the identified structural impediments to the true development of our poor majority. Truly, thoroughly corrupt and tyrannical capitalist stooges are all around us. However, as long as the human species on this planet remain imperfect, it is logically only a “self-revisionary and self-critical ideologically grounded that can bring the people to their economic promised land.
Olamilekan is a Political Economist & Development Researcher writes via [email protected]