This is contained in the 59-page global report on the state of the world inequality index titled “Inequality Kills” -The unparallel action needed to combat unprecedented inequality in the wake of COVID-19, released on Monday in Abuja.
The report was jointly presented by the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani; Oxfam in Nigeria Program Coordinator, Mr. Henry Ushie, and Program Manager, CISLAC, Mr. Chinedu Bassey.
Speaking on the development, the Country Director of Oxfam in Nigeria, Dr. Vincent Ahonsi, said it is disappointing that the two richest billionaires in Nigeria have more wealth than the bottom 63 million Nigerians.
The report said that the world’s 10 richest men more than doubled their fortunes from $700bn to $1.5trn -at a rate of $15,000 per second or $1.3bn a day- during the first two years of a pandemic that has seen the incomes of 99 percent of humanity fall and over 160 million more people forced into poverty.
Speaking on ‘the billionaire variant’, Oxfam International’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher, said, “In Nigeria, billionaires saw their wealth increase by 38 percent during the pandemic while 7.4 million people are estimated to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020. There are 4,690 individuals with a net worth of $5m or more, with wealth totaling $107.2bn. There are 245 individuals with $50m or more with a combined wealth of $56.5bn.
“If these 10 men were to lose 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all the people on this planet. They now have six times more wealth than the poorest 3.1 billion people.”
On Nigeria Factsheet, the report said that there are 4,690 individuals with a net worth of $5m or more, with wealth totaling $107.2bn, while there were 245 individuals with $50m or more with a combined wealth of $56.5bn.
According to the report, between 2016 and 2021, the number of individuals with wealth over $50m increased from 205 to 245 and that, however, their combined wealth actually decreased from $65.16bn to $56.52bn, a decrease of 13.26 percent, adjusted for inflation.
“The total wealth of the three billionaires is equal to $24.9bn. Throughout the pandemic (beginning in mid-March 2020), the wealth of the Nigerian billionaire class increased $6.9bn.
On Nigeria annual wealth tax, the report said, “An annual wealth tax in Nigeria would raise $4.1bn a year (with rates at 2% on wealth over $5m, 3% on wealth over $50m and 5% on wealth over $1bn).
“A more progressive wealth tax would raise $6.1bn (with rates at 2% on wealth over $5m, 5% on wealth over $50m and 10% on wealth over $1b).”
The Country Director of Oxfam in Nigeria, said, “It is disappointing that the two richest billionaires in Nigeria have more wealth than the bottom 63 million Nigerians. It is about time we begin to correct these extreme inequalities.”
The Oxfam recommended among others that government urgently claw back the gains made by billionaires by taxing this huge new wealth made since the start of the pandemic through permanent wealth and capital taxes.