A new report released by Oxfam, an international confederation against poverty, says the three richest men in Nigeria have more wealth than 83 million citizens.
Oxfam released the global inequality report at the start of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday.
In the document, titled, ‘survival of the richest’, the international non-governmental organisation (NGO) said the wealth of Nigerian billionaires has grown by a third since the start of COVID-19 pandemic without a corresponding increase in health budgets.
It also said the richest 0.003 percent of Nigerians (6,355 individuals worth $5 million and above) have 1.4 times more wealth than 107 million of the country’s citizens.
Oxfam said a wealth tax of 2 percent on the millionaires, 3 percent on those with wealth above $50 million, and 5 percent on the Nigerian billionaires would raise $3.2 billion annually.
According to the organisation, the revenue gained from the wealth tax would be enough to double health spending as Nigeria has one of the lowest health budgets in the world.
Commenting on the report, Vincent Ahonsi, country director, Oxfam International, said super-rich Nigerians are not paying their taxes.
“While millions of Nigerians are unsure where their next meals will come from, the super-rich are getting richer and not paying their fair share of taxes but taking advantage of the complexities and loopholes in the tax legislation, as well as the lack of transparency and accountability in tax implementation, thereby depriving the country of the revenue needed for social protection and inequality reduction.”
“Taxing the super-rich and big corporations is the door out of today’s overlapping crises. It’s time we demolish the convenient myth that tax cuts for the richest result in their wealth somehow ‘trickling down’ to everyone else.
“Forty years of tax cuts for the super-rich have shown that a rising tide doesn’t lift all ships — just the superyachts.”
Ahonsi also said, to have a more secure and prosperous society, Nigeria needs to purposely work to reduce inequality, generate more tax revenues from the rich, spend more on health, education, agriculture and social protection; and provide fair, inclusive, and gender-sensitive opportunities for its citizens.
The organisation called on governments to introduce one-off solidarity wealth taxes and windfall taxes to end crisis profiteering.
“Permanently increase taxes on the richest 1 percent, for example to at least 60 percent of their income from labour and capital, with higher rates for multi-millionaires and billionaires,” it added.
“Governments must especially raise taxes on capital gains, which are subject to lower tax rates than other forms of income.”