Nigeria ranks lowest on Oxfam's regional Reducing Inequality Index 2019
According to Oxfam, five of Nigeria’s richest men have a combined wealth of $29.9 billion – more than the country’s national budget for 2017.
Nigeria has been ranked as the worst-performing country in West Africa with regard to the commitment of government to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. Nigeria is ranked below Sierra Leone and Niger as the countries in the region that are least committed to reducing inequality, according to the Oxfam’s first-ever West Africa regional Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index, released on Tuesday.
Oxfam – a confederation of 20 independent charitable organisations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty – in collaboration with Development Finance International (DFI), said inequality is at crisis levels in West Africa. The regional CRI index measures, compares and ranks governments’ commitment to reducing inequalities on three pillars: public spending, taxation and labour markets. The report shows Cape Verde, Mauritania and Senegal are the West African countries most committed to reducing inequalities.
“This index reveals that West African governments are exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services such as healthcare and education,” said Adama Coulibaly, Reginal Director of Oxfam in West Africa. “It also shows that ECOWAS governments are underfunding the agriculture sector on one hand, while under-taxing corporation and the wealthy, and failing to clamp down on tax evasion, tax avoidance and corruption.”
According to Oxfam, the report was released ahead of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development taking place in New York from July 9-18. This year marks the fourth year of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reducing inequalities is one of the 17 SDGs. Nigeria also ranked lowest on Oxfam's global CRI index in 2017 and 2018.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, Oxfam’s country director, Constant Tchona, said 69 per cent of Nigerians lives below the poverty line.
“The gap between the rich and the poor may be a worldwide problem but in Nigeria, the scale of inequality is staggering. Nigeria is the only oil producing nation in the league of five countries with the largest highest number of poor people,” Tchona said.
According to Oxfam, five of Nigeria’s richest men have a combined wealth of $29.9 billion – more than the country’s national budget for 2017 (N7.44 trillion), but about 60 per cent of Nigerians live on less than $1.25 a day, the threshold for extreme poverty.
To strengthen their commitment to reducing inequality, West African governments must act decisively. Coulibaly said: “West African governments must promote progressive taxation, boost social spending, strengthen labour market protection, invest in agriculture and strengthen land rights for smallholder farmers. We cannot beat poverty without fighting against inequality.”
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