Viewpoint

May 7, 2024

Detention of Binance Employee: Before more multinationals pull out of Nigeria

Detention of Binance Employee: Before more multinationals pull out of Nigeria

By Bright Johnson

In recent weeks, Nigeria has found itself in the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The detention of Tigran Gambaryan, an employee of Binance, a global cryptocurrency exchange platform, by the Nigerian government has sparked outrage and raised serious concerns about the state of business and foreign relations in the country.

The case of this employee, who is not an owner member of the company, justifies some critics of the government who think it overreaches itself and perhaps blatantly disregards due process. In a recent blog that I picked up, Richard Teng, CEO of Binance, publicly voiced his dismay at the unjust detention, highlighting the lack of cooperation and transparency on the part of Nigerian authorities.

But this issue extends far beyond the confines of one individual case. It sets a dangerous precedent that sends a chilling message to foreign businesses operating or considering operating in Nigeria.

Many strongly believe that the detention of the employee undermines the confidence of investors and companies alike. It raises questions about the rule of law and the protection of business interests in the country.

Already, we are witnessing the ripple effects of this alarming development. I have heard communications from companies such as Google, Uber, Bolt and reputable banks canceling their employees’ trips to Nigeria out of fear that they could face similar arbitrary arrests. This not only disrupts business operations but also tarnishes Nigeria’s reputation as a welcoming destination for foreign business.

The impact of multinational companies suspending their global business trips to Nigeria goes beyond just the immediate loss of business opportunities. It erodes trust in the country’s institutions and raises doubts about its commitment to upholding the rule of law.

Furthermore, the recent detention of journalists under the guise of upholding the Cyber Crime Act adds another layer of concern for media freedom and the broader human rights landscape in Nigeria. This not only undermines the confidence of foreign investors but also raises serious questions about the country’s commitment to democratic principles and the protection of fundamental rights.

For a country striving to position itself as a hub for innovation and economic development, this is a devastating blow. The flight of multinational companies sends a clear message to the international community that Nigeria is not a safe or reliable place to do business.

In the long run, the consequences of this loss of confidence could be dire. Without the presence of multinationals, Nigeria risks falling behind its neighbours in terms of economic development and technological advancement.

It also deprives the country of much-needed job opportunities and revenue that could benefit its citizens.

The recent news about PZ Cussons considering selling its African operations due to adverse economic conditions in Nigeria is yet another example of the challenges faced by multinational corporations in the country.

The depreciation of the Naira and rising inflation have significantly may have impacted the PZ Cussons revenue, apparently prompting a strategic review of its operations.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that blaming currency woes solely on cryptocurrencies is short-sighted. The volatility of the Nigerian naira is predominantly influenced by macroeconomic conditions, such as fiscal policies, trade imbalances, and global market trends.

By addressing these fundamental economic challenges, Nigeria can enhance its attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment and foster sustainable economic growth.

Failure to address these issues promptly will only further isolate Nigeria from the global economy and hinder its prospects for growth. The time to act is now before irreparable damage is done to Nigeria’s reputation as a destination for foreign investment and business.

*Johnson is a Lagos-based ICT enthusiast