Nigeria’s main opposition leader and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has said the country will adopt blockchain technology and cryptocurrency if he is voted into power. In his policy document, Abubakar revealed plans to create a legal policy that, among other things, will see blockchain and cryptocurrencies taught from primary school through university.
More than 50 candidates are jostling to defeat Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s incumbent president, in general elections slated for February. Abubakar is the main contender as the representative of the People’s Democratic Party. The business tycoon — who owns companies cutting across the agriculture, logistics, media, and food and beverage industries — previously served as vice president under the former government of Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007.
In his campaign policy document, released Nov. 19, Abubakar promised to “produce a comprehensive policy on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies” if he is elected as president of Africa’s biggest economy in the 2019 election. He revealed plans to build a knowledge-based economy powered by information and communication technologies, including blockchain and digital assets. Abubakar stressed that his government will improve literacy in these technologies by altering the school curriculum, so students can learn about them from primary school.
My mission is to ensure that Nigeria’s economy is responsive to the challenges of the 21st century knowledge economy by keeping with the amazingly dynamic technological pace.
The current Nigerian government has not particularly embraced cryptocurrencies. Godwin Emifiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has likened cryptocurrencies “to a gamble.” The authorities hold this stance in spite of the fact that Nigerians continue to flood into the digital currency space in search of cheaper and faster ways to send money abroad, or receive it. They have also been using cryptocurrencies to hedge against inflation and exchange-related losses of the naira, the local fiat unit. According to Citigroup, Nigerians account for the world’s third-largest holdings of bitcoin as a percentage of gross domestic product, after Russia and New Zealand.
However, the Nigerian government has launched an investigation into the pros and cons of adopting bitcoin as a means of payment. Financial technology startups in the West African country have called on the CBN to provide legal guidelines for the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. A lack of regulation is driving investment out of Africa’s biggest economy to nations like Rwanda and regions such as Europe while fomenting uncertainty, they say.
In his “Get Nigeria Working Again” policy document, Abubakar said: “Nations that will prosper are those that embrace (a) comprehensive, agile approach that infuses the influence of rapid technological advancement into every area of governance and policy to address the issues of inadequate technological infrastructure, funding and poor database.”
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