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In Nigeria, about four in 10 persons may be poor, with the figure reaching about nine in ten in some States, as they earn less than N377 daily, according to a 2019 estimate by the National Bureau of Statistics, (NBS), but not some Nigerians.
Not many of them would be seen on the Forbes’ wealthiest list, but these 21 Nigerians are worth a treasure, according to a published report by an on-line platform.
At the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN)’s exchange rates of N410 trading for a dollar and N558 to a British Pound, is equivalent to about N84 billion.
At the black market, the assets are worth N117 billion, with an American dollar trading for N575 and the British Pound, N775.
The said Nigerians are among the more than 35 current and former world leaders, more than 330 public officials, and some 130 billionaires from over 91 countries and territories, whose massive fortune was a part of assets and deals kept in offshore tax-havens.
These Nigerians include two former military governors, a former minister, an erstwhile presidential adviser and some of Nigeria’s leading business people.
The exposé, sourced from a multi-terabyte volume of leaks retrieved from 14 offshore services firms from around the world, has already highlighted a global cast of influential politicians, businesspersons, fugitives, convicts, celebrities, football stars, judges, tax officials, spy chiefs and many others as having assets offshore.
The companies help their clients set up shell companies and design non-transparent structures to conceal their financial dealings, through trusts.
Experts have urged the Nigerian government to expand the tax net and not the tax rate in order to plough fertile land for more local investments to thrive and discourage the huge desire for foreign currency.
Amid the Naira’s slump to around N575 for a dollar this week, the currency’s weakness and instability against the dollar is also another reason for some of the country’s wealthiest persons to save their money in dollars in what they considered secured jurisdictions, experts have said.
Tax havens and offshore companies also boost illicit financial flow to other jurisdictions away from the country in which the wealth is made. Between 2006 and 2015, Nigeria accounted for $8.3 billion in illicit financial flows, ranking among the top 30 nations, according to the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) report, published in 2019.
The combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men – $29.9 billion – could end extreme poverty at a national level, yet 5 million face hunger, according to Oxfam.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS), has vowed actions to determine and punish possible tax offences following the Pandora Papers investigation.