What if I told you Nigeria will be better?
Funny right? I mean considering all recent activities, where is the light at the end of the tunnel coming from? We have become an embarrassment worldwide. Our president whenever he travels to other countries for medical checkups or for whatsoever reason is met with protests both for and against him being there by his own citizens in a foreign land. One can only wonder how long it will take these countries to ban him from coming into their country, stating civil unrest whenever he is around as the reason.
You can say whatever you like about the president traveling out for medical checkups on taxpayers’ money, but traveling out with doctors threatening strike for the betterment of the healthcare system is another level of “I don’t care by the president”.
Recently Twitter announced that it was setting up its physical presence in Africa by situating its Head Quarter in Ghana. As expected, Twitter NG went gaga. But can you really blame Jack? This was the same Jack and Twitter a prominent Nigerian influencer Adamu Garba threatened to sue and ban in Nigeria’s cyberspace and you think these things go on without consequences? Imagine the job opportunities Twitter having its physical presence in Nigeria would bring. Although I doubt our leaders care much about such as long as it doesn’t directly benefit their pockets. Twitter cited freedom of speech and democracy in Ghana as some of the reasons why the decision to open the office in Ghana was the right one.
In the words of Twitter, “As a champion of democracy, Ghana is a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet in which Twitter is also an advocate”. I believe this is quite self-explanatory. And yes although it seems Nigeria has the population that drives Twitter usage, its government’s policy doesn’t help. People have allegedly disappeared or gotten in trouble for criticizing the government and that is about all you need to know about freedom of speech and the type of democracy we run here in Nigeria.
As expected, one would expect a lot of reaction from Nigerians about the decision by Twitter, but nothing was more shocking than hearing Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed blame Nigerian #EndSARS protesters and journalists for Twitter’s choice of Ghana. He blamed the media for painting as a hell where nobody should live. Well, a lot of Nigerians do view Nigeria as hell where nobody can live so we would want to believe that the media only represented the voice of the people.
He claimed they are unpatriotic and unfair and he asked “when you destroy your own house, where will you live?” Well, most Nigerians would tell you Canada.
Let us objectively look at the happenings in the past that might have contributed to Jack’s decision on situating Twitter’s HQ in Ghana.
First and foremost, it is no news that a lot of companies are fleeing Nigeria due to unfavorable economic. Now it seems like the government through The Central Bank of Nigeria (C.B.N) are fighting Financial Technology companies. It seems the booming FinTech industry spells doom for the banking industry in Nigeria. Because more youths are willing to invest more in FinTechs than leave their money in a bank with little or no interest. Imagine trading with FinTech companies and cashing rather than leaving your money in a commercial bank just to receive about 1percent interest probably after a year. Now factor in inflation and you will realize that by playing safe and putting your money in a bank, you are still losing your money’s worth. So it is better to put your money into good use with FinTech companies. Some of these FinTech companies do more than just help you transfer money more conveniently, a lot of them provide trading platforms.
We are in the age of cryptocurrency and a lot of FinTechs have seized the opportunity and created platforms for youths to be trading and competing globally when it comes to cryptocurrency. This in turn has made both FinTech companies and youths richer than ever before and banks are struggling with fierce competition from FinTechs. In fact, FinTech companies can do whatever an average bank can do which is basically keep your money safe for you. They can do this with lesser manpower and this is quite worrisome to banks.
If FinTech is allowed to continue growing at such a rate, banks might turn out to be a thing of the past. So what did the Nigerian government do to favor banks? The Central Bank of Nigeria decided to ban cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria citing that it is not regulated and cannot be trusted. This is just another way of saying “we cannot control your money”. A lot of youths saw it as a fight against them due to the #EndSARS protest but I have a feeling it was a fight against FinTechs by banks trying to limit how many youths use their trading platforms instead of saving money in the bank.
Has this ban slowed down the booming FinTech industry? No. It was published that a lot of Nigerians have been trading crypto now more than ever using P2P which cuts off the process of going through a bank before you can deposit funds in your trading platform. You simply look for a seller and buy on the spot and life continues.
When it seemed clear that banks were not winning this fight, they decided to stop FinTechs from registering and issuing Bank Verification Number, BVN to customers. After all, they are not banks. In response, FinTech companies have talked about coming up with a unified database to register users common to all FinTech companies. Also, some FinTechs are beginning to disguise themselves as Micro Finance banks. Although FinTech companies have so far been able to stay one step ahead of CBN and its policy, one cannot rule out the possibility of Nigeria waking up and banning FinTechs altogether citing that they are no longer welcomed to operate in Nigeria.
These policies and uncertainties alone can drive major investors like Twitter away from Nigeria and it has nothing to do with media.
Now let us talk about security. Nobody wants to open a Head Quarter where the security of the place is not guaranteed. And the body language of the government doesn’t show the intensity one requires to fight and end such insecurity. From Boko Haram to Fulani herdsmen and banditry, the government is not doing enough to secure the lives and properties of her citizens, how much more a foreign investor?
Recently it was alleged that Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Nigerian Minister of Communication and Digital Economy was banned from entering The United States of America because of his ties with Boko Haram. It was later reported as false/ fake news but in his defense, it has resurfaced that Pantami doesn’t support Boko Haram but Al-Qaeda and Taliban. These are well-known and documented terrorist groups and support for these groups is support for terrorism. While most youths have called for his resignation over his comments, his northern brothers, children, and supporters are very well behind him stating that he will not resign.
So as an investor, is this the kind of environment you would love to operate in?
To top it all up, the week ended with Germany choosing Ghana again over Nigeria as the West Africa Centre of Global Health and Pandemic Prevention.
I guess being the self-acclaimed Giant of Africa no longer attracts investors. Besides what good is your population when policies do not support their growth and prosperity?
Do you still believe Nigeria will get better? Is there still light at the end of the tunnel for Nigeria or the lack of power supply makes it difficult to see?
Well if I am asked, I believe Nigeria will get better. Maybe not in this generation, maybe not in this lifetime, and definitely not with these policies by the Nigerian government but it will. Even if it is in the life after. For now, to be safe, follow the footsteps of Germany, Jack’s Twitter, and others and go for environments that allow you to flourish.
Read our post on 7 Reasons why Nigeria cannot continue like this