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10 richest men double fortunes in pandemic as incomes of 99% of humanity fall

By Joke Falaju (Abuja) and Waliat Musa (Lagos)
18 January 2022   |   4:06 am
In Nigeria, billionaires’ wealth increased by 38% as 7.4m citizens fell into extreme poverty

In Nigeria, billionaires’ wealth increased by 38% as 7.4m citizens fell into extreme poverty

The world’s 10 richest men more than doubled their fortunes from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion (at a rate of $15,000 per second or $1.3 billion a day) during the first two years of a pandemic that has seen the incomes of 99 per cent of humanity fall and over 160 million more people forced into poverty.
 
In Nigeria, billionaires saw their wealth increase by 38 per cent 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 $5 million or more, with wealth totaling $107.2 billion. There are 245 individuals with $50 million or more with a combined wealth of $56.5 billion.

“If these 10 men were to lose 99.999 per cent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 per cent of all the people on this planet,” said Oxfam International’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher.

“They now have six times more wealth than the poorest 3.1 billion people.”
 
In a new briefing, ‘Inequality Kills’, published, yesterday, ahead of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda, Oxfam said inequality is contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people each day, or one person every four seconds. This is a conservative finding based on deaths globally from lack of access to healthcare, gender-based violence, hunger, and climate breakdown.
 
“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,” said Country Director of Oxfam in Nigeria, Dr. Vincent Ahonsi.
 


“Collectively, the total wealth of the three billionaires in Nigeria equal $24.9 billion and throughout the pandemic (beginning in mid-March 2020), their wealth increased $6.9 billion, while the majority of Nigerians are poorer. It is a remarkable surge in wealth at the very top of the society, which has not impacted positively on the majority,” Ahonsi said.
 
Despite the huge cost of fighting the pandemic, in the past two years, rich country governments have failed to increase taxes on the wealth of the richest and continued to privatise public goods such as vaccine science. They have encouraged corporate monopolies to such a degree that in the pandemic period alone, the increase in market concentration threatens to be more in one year than in the past 15 years from 2000 to 2015.

“It is now a moral burden on billionaires to invest more on social goods including water and sanitation, education, food security, health and social infrastructure as part of their corporate social responsibilities for a just post-pandemic recovery,” said Ahonsi.
 

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