The former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to reverse its policy directing Nigerian banks to close all cryptocurrency‐related accounts and stop such transactions in the country.
He said this in a statement he issued on Saturday.
Mr Abubakar said the first challenge facing Nigeria is youth unemployment and that it is an emergency that needs urgent attention.
"In fact, it is not a challenge, it is an emergency. It affects our economy, and is exacerbating insecurity in the nation," he said.
The Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday had directed banks in the country to close all cryptocurrency-related accounts.
The regulator prohibited all financial institutions from facilitating cryptocurrency payments in the country.
The apex bank said all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs), and other financial institutions (OFIs)
should identify persons and entities transacting in, or, operating crypto currency exchanges within their systems, and close such accounts immediately.
Mr Abubakar, who was the Peoples Democratic Party candidate for the 2019 presidential election, said Nigeria needs to open, rather than close the economy now.
"Especially after today's report by the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that foreign capital inflow into Nigeria is at a four year low, having plummeted from $23.9 billion in 2019, to just $9.68 billion in 2020," he said.
Mr Abubakar expressed worry that the nation had already suffered severe economic losses from the border closure, and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world.
He said this is definitely the wrong time to introduce policies that will restrict the inflow of capital into Nigeria.
"I urge that the policy to prohibit the dealing and transaction of cryptocurrencies be revisited," he added.
He explained that it is possible to regulate the sub sector and prevent any abuse that may be inimical to national security.
"That may be a better option, than an outright shutdown," he said.
Mr Abubakar highlighted that there is already immense economic pressure on the Nigerian youth and that it must be the job of the government, therefore, to reduce that pressure, rather than adding to it.
"We must create jobs in Nigeria. We must expand the economy. We must remove every impediment towards investments. We owe the Nigerian people that much," he concluded.