With the general elections coming up in Nigeria in February 2019, Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – the country’s most formidable opposition party has included the formation of a “comprehensive blockchain and digital currency policy” in his policy document. This statement comes as a surprise because the country’s regulatory establishment led by the Central Bank of Nigeria have in past times held a cautious line toward the cryptocurrency.
Breaking the Norm
Atiku, who served as the Country’s vice president between 1999 and 2007 is trying to create policies on the platform of a modernizer and is trying to break the norm and revive the Country’s failing economy. The country is still feeling the effects of a devastating 2016 recession which was accompanied by a global drop in the oil price. The drop in oil price saw Nigeria lose 85% of its value in less than 24 months.
Nigeria as a country has a conservative financial regulatory environment where banks have a high level of influence on the regulatory processes and decisions. Because of this type of environment, the increased awareness and adoption of cryptocurrency by the general public have been met with warnings by financial authorities who advise investors against putting money in cryptocurrencies.
In January of 2018, Godwin Emefiele the CBN governor described bitcoin investment as a “gamble” that should be regulated in ideal conditions. Despite the almost hostile environment, Nigeria has one of Africa’s largest and most vibrant peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading systems and providers like PundiX have successfully established bitcoin payment products within the country.
Having this in mind, Atiku is trying to present his vision of a large-scale job creation as a necessity for national security. Furthermore he is trying to position himself as a leader who is suited for the 21-st century in contrast to the 78-year old incumbent Muhammadu Buhari who has been heavily criticized of mishandling the country’s economy.
Comprehensive Crypto Regulation in the Country
In his campaign policy titled “Get Nigeria Working Again”, Atiku promises that if he emerges as the winner of the February elections, his key focus will be fostering economic growth through blockchain and cryptocurrency regulation. According to the document, his government will oversee the formation of a comprehensive policy on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies through collaboration among important government agencies with the aim of providing opportunities for Nigerians and increasing government revenue.
This move by the opposition leader is significant because this is the first time cryptocurrency regulation will be a subject of serious political discuss on the African continent. It also means that if the opposition party emerges victorious, the country will be potentially opened up for a large scale cryptocurrency adoption. This will eventually place Nigeria at a point where they become the vanguard of global cryptocurrency conversation.