by Azeez Adeniyi
Oxfam International on Wednesday in its report stated that the combined wealth of five of Nigeria’s richest citizens could end extreme poverty in the country.
The agency said 112 million Nigerians live in abject poverty, while stating that the combined worth of the richest persons stands at $29.9bn.
Quoting Forbes, the agency listed the five richest Nigerians as Aliko Dangote, with a net worth $14.4bn; Mike Adenuga, $9.9bn; Femi Otedola, $1.85bn; Folorunsho Alakija, $1.55bn; and Abdulsamad Rabiu, $1.1bn.
The agency said its report exposed how the benefits of economic growth are captured by a few wealthy elite at the expense of ordinary Nigerians.
It said the richest man in Nigeria earned 8,000 times more in one day than a poor citizen would spend on basic needs in a year.
It alleged that public office holders stole an estimated sum of $20tn from the treasury between 1960 and 2005, while multinational companies received tax incentives estimated at $2.9bn a year.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while reacting faulted the structure of the report.
She said it failed to answer key questions that were typical of similar reports.
She also stated that the report failed to provide solutions to some of the problems it identified, adding that the document did not define key concepts such as poverty and who the elite were.
She said, “I was worried by the language, tone and style of the report, and this made me to ask what was at the back of the mind of the authors when the report was being written? Oxfam needs to tune the report and put in an element of diplomacy. The methodology used in the report also raises some questions.
“Is it for empirical or theoretical purpose? Oxfam needs to tell us in the report what it intends to achieve, what data was gathered, where it was gathered, the sample size and the uses of the data.”