Tinubu suspends cybersecurity levy and orders review after public outcry

Nigeria’s top man, President Bola Tinubu, has ordered a review of the controversial cybersecurity levy and suspended its implementation.

The decision to suspend the introduction of the cybersecurity levy was taken on Thursday following outrage over the decision to introduce it.

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This week, banks will be asked to “ignore the implementation directive,” a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) official said.

A source close to the government revealed that the President has called the CBN governor on the matter and that the CBN is likely to issue a statement this week postponing the implementation of the directive.

The CBN official said the apex bank was surprised at the level of anger directed at it despite only complying with a law passed and agreed to by the authorities.

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The official noted that the CBN does not have the power to veto a law but will require banks not to implement the cybersecurity levy deductions.
The decision to impose a 0.5 percent levy on some electronic transactions sparked outrage across the country. Many Nigerians felt the levy would “increase the cost of living and doing business” and also hinder the growth of digital transactions.

The House of Representatives joined the chorus of disapproval and called on the CBN to “withdraw its circular directing all banks to begin collecting the levy.” They argued that the CBN’s directive was “ambiguous” and needed clarification.

Acknowledging the “economic burden on Nigerians,” President Tinubu called on the CBN to “shelve this policy and review things.” Sources close to the president emphasized his commitment to avoiding measures that “increase the burden on the people.”

The review will examine not only the CBN’s implementation of the levy, but also the underlying Cybersecurity Act itself. The law, passed in 2015, predates the Tinubu administration. Aides to the president suggest he may seek changes to the law to ensure it “does not frustrate Nigerians.”

The suspension of the cybersecurity levy and the upcoming review represent a significant change. The outcome of the review will determine the future of the levy and potentially lead to changes to the Cybersecurity Act. Nigerians will be watching closely to see whether the government prioritizes economic well-being and avoids policies that worsen financial stress.

Photo credit: Getty