In Nigeria, the youth are protesting against police violence and other “beasts” from their country. Bitcoin also plays a role – and not only as a censorship-resistant means of payment.
Protests against the government have been raging across Nigeria for several weeks. Bitcoin is involved in two relationships.
As in the US before, the protests are against police violence. The focus is primarily on the SARS unit, which stands for “Special Anti-Robbery Squad”. The protesters are demanding that the government disband SARS, which is notorious for brutality and murders.
Bitcoiners are also popular victims of SARS violence. According to reports, the police are taking away young people’s smartphones, checking to see if there are any crypto wallets on them, and forcing them to transfer their bitcoins. Some Bitcoiners already delete their apps from their smartphones to protect themselves from such attacks.
Similar reports are also available from Venezuela. It is not entirely clear whether the reason is poverty, corruption and greed among the police, or whether they consider Bitcoin to be fraudsters because of a lack of knowledge.
This is not a Nigeria problem, this is pretty much a global problem.
— Tone Vays (Shitcoin Minimalist) (@ToneVays) October 11, 2020
The protests, which stretch across the country and have effectively led to a “lockdown” in the capital Lagos, to a standstill in public life, are financed by donations, partly from individuals and partly from organizations. These donations ensure that the protesters are supplied with food, medicine and legal assistance.
However, donations began to dry up after banks blocked the groups’ accounts and internet platforms removed their donation links. However, the protesters quickly began to call for donations in bitcoins. One of the groups is the Feminist Coalition, which fights for equality for women in Nigeria. She has already supported the protests with millions of naira (1 million naira is around 2,200 euros). The coalition actually collected money through Flutterwave, but the account was closed and the money on it was confiscated.
So the Feminist Coalition started collecting donations in bitcoins. For this, she probably used a single address at first , on which several thousand dollars have arrived within a few hours and which has so far received a good 1.24 Bitcoin. In the meantime , however, the coalition uses a BTCPayServer that generates a new address for each donation, which protects the privacy of both the organization and the donors: Nigerians who buy bitcoins on an exchange, for example, do not reveal to them that they are for the protests donate.
Nigerian crypto companies are also supporting the protests, including Bundle Africa, Bitsika Africa, CoinsApp Global and Quiday Africa. The most prominent supporter is likely to be Jack Dorsey, who is not only known as the boss of Twitter and Square, but also as a fan of Africa and Bitcoin. He retweeted the feminist coalition’s appeal for donations:
— jack (@jack) October 14, 2020
The protests are probably difficult to understand from Europe. A comment on Sahara Reporters might give a glimpse of what is rocking Africa’s largest economy right now. As is probably the case in the USA, police violence is only the trigger that releases the frustration of the youth.
In the past few weeks the youth have started protests across the country that “spread like a bushfire and are driven by creativity, innovation and intensity.” In Lagos, almost every block celebrates its own version of the protest; every main road is blocked, and those who drive motorized are asked to join the protests or go home. Something similar is happening in other big cities like Lekki and Abuja.
In itself, the demonstrators have already achieved their goal: The government has dissolved the SARS (and announced the establishment of the Special Weapons and Tactical Unit, SWAT). Several dozen officers have been dismissed or transferred, and some face criminal charges. But “Police violence is not the only beast: the youth of Nigeria have since identified others: problems with the exchange rate for foreign currencies, cybercrime and fraud, an explosion in gasoline prices, legislators that are underworked but overpaid, terrorist shepherds, unemployment, bad roads, a failed elite. ”All of this – and probably more – threatens the future of Nigeria’s youth. “They want their country back now.”
Of course, Bitcoin only plays a minor role in this possible political upheaval. But perhaps the cryptocurrency will become the detail or tool that will make the protests a success. Because some of the conventional control mechanisms no longer work since Bitcoin has existed.