Nigerian crypto kings keeping up the pressure
Way back in 1538 the English politician Thomas Howard wrote a letter to King Henry the VIII’s Chief Minister, Thomas Cornwall. The contents of the letter have mostly been forgotten, but it did contain a nifty turn of phrase in it.
“A man can not have his cake and eat his cake,” Howard wrote to Cornwall. He was likely trying to gently criticize one of the King’s latest actions at the time – and one needed to be gentle when dealing with this particular King, as Cornwall would find out later when he was beheaded by him for disloyalty — but the lasting importance of the letter is in that phrase.
“A man can not have his cake and eat his cake,” is the first recorded use of what is now a common English idiom — “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
English can be a colourful and confusing language for non-native speakers, so if you are unfamiliar with the meaning of the phrase, it means that you cannot simultaneously hold onto two conflicting ideas or actions.
You can’t eat something and still have it in your possession. Once consumed, it’s gone.
I’m not sure if this phrase is commonly used in Nigeria, but as it relates to the latest utterance by the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, it should be.
What did Emefiele say?
In speaking at the Nigerian Monetary Policy Meeting, he said that “(Nigeria is) committed to the CBN, and I can assure everybody that digital currency will come to life even in Nigeria.”
He added that “under cryptocurrency and Bitcoin, Nigeria comes 2nd, while on the global side of the economy, Nigeria comes 27th. We are still conducting our investigation (into cryptocurrency), and we will make our data available.”
Seems promising, right? In theory, yes, but keep in mind that Emefiele and the Central Bank of Nigeria is behind a highly restrictive policy that bans banks from buying or selling crypto, or dealing with vendors that convert crypto into naira, the local currency.
That has forced Nigerians to get creative in finding ways to convert their crypto holdings offshore into practical currency that they can use to fund their day-to-day activity.
So, with this statement, Emefiele is basically trying to have his cake (the favour of millions of everyday Nigerians who trade in crypto) while still eating it too (maintaining a ridiculous and restrictive ban on the effective trading of it in Nigeria).
As we’ve written before in this space, Nigerians are a resourceful bunch. They have and will continue to find a way to work around their government’s incompetence – an incompetence that sees the naira in danger of being once again devalued.
This in a country that has seen unemployment of about 1/3 for a generation — the situation that has driven so many young and educated Nigerians to embrace crypto in the first place.
It can be exhausting to constantly point out the negative aspects of this ongoing story, so let’s end this on a positive note.
The government is clearly feeling the pressure to reverse course when it comes to crypto. Although they may not like it — may fear it even – they recognize that their efforts to stamp it out are failing. That’s a victory for the Nigerian people.
Even though Emefiele is talking out of both sides of his mouth now, that’s a change from just six months ago.
The crypto community should take that as a win and keep the pressure up. It’s time to make sure Emefiele eats some cake.