- Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, said the clampdown on technology companies in Nigeria is caused by fear which the Central Bank of Nigeria has
- Governor Okowa said the government should also not be bossy towards the people it is leading, and open a channel of discussion
- The financial regulator banned cryptocurrency operators in Nigeria, and had recently freeze the accounts of Riseinvest, Chaka, Bamboo and Trove
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has reacted to the handling of the tech market by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) amid talks of clampdown on innovation by President Muhammadu Buhari's administration.
Okowa said fear is the factor driving the faceoff between the financial regulator and the tech startup founders within the country, and their reservations are not out of place.
Genesis of the clampdown on tech in 2021
In 2021, the government, through the central bank had banned cryptocurrency exchanges from operating in Nigeria since February following a price bubble in bitcoin and other digital currencies.
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The CBN also instructed commercial banks to close every accounts with links to cryptocurrency. This led to crypto startups relocating to foreign countries like Australia.
Recently, the central bank froze the accounts of five tech-enabled investment startups sellings foreign company shares or securities to interested Nigerians.
The accounts of startups like Chaka, Bamboo, Trove and Riseinvest were shutdown for 180 days after the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, secured an exparte in court against the firms.
CBN is right to be scared of the companies
In February, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, opposed the cryptocurrency ban, asking CBN not to act in fear, and instead embrace the new form of asset, but Governor Okowa said CBN is not wrong.
In his speech at Ripples Dialogue, a sociopolitical event held on Wednesday, Okowa said:
"What is going on at the moment is because of fears. Fear of those who monitor the monetary instruments"
The governor added:
"The fear of those who are supposed to regulate the monetary instruments need to be put on bud, because those fears are also right."
Government should be opened to discussion
While he believes that the fears of the financial regulator is understandable, Governor Okowa said the government should be opened to discuss with stakeholders.
In his words, he said:
"The people should have room to discuss, even as we are discussing today. if COVID do not allow us to come together, through virtual means we can meet with ourselves."
Okowa said the advantage of allowing a space for discussion about how the economy can be grown adds to the country's gross domestic product.
He explained that:
"Many times, we don't provide the opportunity to really discuss within ourselves. If the central bank has a position, and many other Nigerians have a position, we need to sit down and talk about it.
"How do we regulate it in such a win that it becomes a win-win for everybody. And I think that many aspect of governance needs to be truly discussed, but many times that we find ourselves in government, its like we are a boss to everybody, but it ought not to be so.
"And when we get to the point that those at the top don't see themselves as a boss to those that they governed, I'm sure we can get a better Nigerian."
Central Bank to launch digital currency amid crypto ban
In related news, Legit.ng had previously reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria is planning to launch it's own digital currency backed by the government.
It was gathered that the CBN will launch its own virtual asset next month, the same period of Nigeria's independence celebrations.