The combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men, put at $29.9 billion, could end extreme poverty in the country, according to a report released by the charity Oxfam.
The report, entitled ‘Inequality in Nigeria, Exploring the Drivers’ and obtained in Abuja, exposed the large and growing gap between the rich and poor in Nigeria.
According to the report, the economic inequality is a key factor in the conflict in the north-eastern states of the country.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, hit back at the charity, saying she was concerned about the “language, tone and style” of Oxfam’s report.
Oxfam’s Good Governance Programme Coordinator for Nigeria, Celestine Okwudili Odo, said:
“It is obscene that the richest Nigerian has amassed more money than he can ever hope to spend in a country where five million people will struggle to feed themselves this year. Extreme inequality is exacerbating poverty, undermining the economy, and fermenting social unrest. Nigerian leaders must be more determined in tackling this terrible problem.”
Oxfam said its research found that:
- Nigeria’s richest man earns 8,000 times more in one day than a poor Nigerian will spend on basic needs in a year.
- More than 112 million people are living in poverty in Nigeria, yet the country’s richest man would have to spend $1m a day for 42 years to exhaust his fortune.
- Despite a rapidly growing economy, Nigeria is one of the few countries where the number of people living in poverty increased, from 69 million in 2004 to 112 million in 2010 – a rise of 69%.
- The number of millionaires increased by 44% during the same period.
The report said that poor people did not benefit from Nigeria’s wealth because of high level of corruption and the excessive influence big business and some wealthy elite had over government and policy making.
According to the report, public office holders stole estimated $20 trillion from the treasury between 1960 and 2005, while multinational companies receive tax incentives estimated at 2.9 billion dollars a year.
This development, it said, was three times more than Nigeria’s entire health budget.
It further revealed that small and medium size businesses and workers in the informal sector, however, faced multiple taxes.
“Despite being Africa’s biggest economy, the share of the national budget allocated to education, health and social protection is one of the lowest in the region.
“In 2012, Nigeria spent just 6.5 per cent of its national budget on education and just 3.5 per cent on health.
“By comparison, Ghana spent 18.5 per cent and 12.8 per cent, respectively in 2015.
‘’As a result, 57 million Nigerians lack safe water, over 130 million lack adequate sanitation and the country has more than 10 million children out of school,” it stated.
- Aliko Dangote (net worth $14.4bn)
- Mike Adenuga (net worth $9.9 billion)
- Femi Otedola (net worth US$1.85 billion)
- Folorunsho Alakija (net worth $1.55 billion) and
- Abdul Samad Rabiu (net worth $1.1 billion).