Digital technology is here to change the way we do so many things. Nay, it is doing so already with frightening efficiency that is characterised by speed, accuracy and affordability. That it will disrupt and reconfigure many professions is a settled matter.
One area that I am so anxious for technology to contribute is how it will stop banditry, kidnapping and other money based crimes that have ravaged rural communities and caused so much pain to many families.
If digital technology can help us in two ways, kidnapping in particular will be over. One is registration of all SIM cards, which the government is pursuing. Without the capacity to put a call to the family of their victims, the kidnappers are left with few options to take. We hope government will continue to pursue this goal with the urgency it demands.
The second, more effective than the first, is digital currency. Once the society gets cashless, kidnapping will be stamped out. Mere digital transfer of money by individuals has almost stamped out armed robbery. If the country becomes cashless then families cannot have the cash to pay ransom with. Here, the superiority of technology over law is evident.
Criminalising ransom by government has fallen on deaf ears. People will continue to buy back their relatives whatever law you make. But they will have no option than to obey a cashless policy when cash is absent. Technology works quietly, ruthlessly, efficiently.
If every transaction is done through the QR code, every Naira will be traced to somebody. The kidnapper will no longer enjoy anonymity. The game will be over for many forms of corruption as well. I don’t know what politicians would do too when cash is gone. Even Boko Haram will be constrained to a good extent. A cashless economy with very little cash in circulation may be dismissed as far-fetched. But it’s here. It only needs to be pursued to the end.
The CBN needs to start squeezing cash out of the economy. I was surprised to learn that a friend withdrew N2million cash from his bank some days ago. Is the CBN sleeping? Likewise, this time government needs to make real its threat to block any unregistered SIM by a particular date it will set. Hon. Pantami can do it and it will be one of his most memorable contributions as a Minister.
Put together the two tracks—SIM registration and cashless currency—must be pursued by government with increased vigour. A marriage between the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the CBN needs to be quickly contracted by the President in order to usher us into the new world of digital peace.
* Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde is the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Bauchi State
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