A new Oxfam report has revealed that Nigeria’s five wealthiest individuals, who are worth a combined $29.9 billion own more than half the population of their fellow countrymen.
According to the Vanguard, the report titled “Inequality in Nigeria, Exploring the Drivers,” said the wealth of Nigeria’s five richest people as listed by Forbes, namely Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, Femi Otedola, Folorunsho Alakija and Abdul Samad Rabiu, could end extreme poverty in the country.
The report which was released on Wednesday stated that about 112 million people out of Nigeria’s population of 170 million are living in abject poverty.
“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 $1 million a day for 42 years to exhaust his fortune,” the report said.
The 54-page Oxfam report also highlighted the increasing gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria.
“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 per cent. The number of millionaires increased by 44 percent during the same period.”
According to the report, economic inequality was a key factor behind the Boko Haram led insurgency that has resulted in a severe food crisis in Nigeria’s North East region, with the UN estimating that about five million people in the region face the risk of famine and starvation.
Poverty, according to the report, is more prevalent in the northern part of the country with 69 percent of the population living below the poverty line in the northeast compared to 49 percent in the southwest.
The report said women were especially marginalized in the scheme of things and had benefited little from the country’s economic growth, with many of them trapped in low-skilled, low-paying jobs in the informal job sector.
The report identified corruption as a major obstacle to the country’s growth and development. It said that Nigeria’s public office holders had stolen an estimated $20 trillion from the country’s treasury between 1960 and 2005. It pointed out that the excessive influence the country’s wealthy elite have over government and policy making has made it difficult for economic growth to trickle down to the poor.
It also revealed that small and medium size businesses and workers in the informal sector had to deal with multiple taxes while multinational companies continue to receive tax incentives worth an estimated at 2.9 billion dollars every year.
The report also faulted Nigeria’s commitment to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals pointing out that: “In 2012, Nigeria spent just 6.5 percent of its national budget on education and just 3.5 percent 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,” the report stated.