While the world witnessed a rise in dollar billionaires from 1,810 in 2016 to 2,043 in 2017, Nigeria’s men of means in the international currency dropped to three from five!
With the total net worth of the billionaires growing from $6.5 trillion in 2016 to $7.7 trillion in 2017, the earth was awash with more money than ever before. But not in Nigeria!
In the prestigious rich list compiled by Forbes, there were 195 newcomers. And with this boom across countries, why is ours different?
The story of Nigeria is different because the metrics used to compute wealth are:
1. Legimate, traceable means which excludes stolen and looted funds.
2. Only companies with books properly kept and verifiable are considered.
3. Those whose investments are domiciled in quoted companies listed on stock markets stand a better chance.
These metrics automatically exclude many who parade themselves as wealthy whose income cannot be traced to production or investment.
And in 2017, only Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Dr. Michael Adenuga, Jnr and Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija made the coveted list.
When the list was released in March 2017, here’s how our dollar billionaires stood:
* Alhaji Aliko Dangote, number 105 with $12.2 billion.
* Dr. Michael Adenuga, Jnr., number 250 with $5.8 billion.
*Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, number 1,290 with $1.6 billion.
At their peaks, the three billionaires had almost double their fortunes with: Dangote, $25 billion; Adenuga, $11.4 billion and Alakija, $2.5 billion.
At the time, there were two additional billionaires on the Forbes rich list: Mr. Femi Otedola with $1.7 billion and Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu with $1.2 billion.
Both, however, eventually dropped off the list.
This week, our dollar billionaires are not far from their March 2017 ranking.
On Monday, July 3, here’s how they fared:
* Dangote – $14.1 billion at number 88.
* Adenuga – $5.9 billion at number 272
* Alakija – $1.7 billion at number 1,340.
With top ten billionaires recording massive multiplication in their net worth, our dollar billionaires are not so lucky.
This week, here’s how the fortunes of the world’s wealthiest stand against their March 2017 ranking:
1. Bill Gates – $88.7 billion (from $86 billion).
2. Jeff Bezos – $82.5 billion (from $72.8 billion).
3. Amancio Ortega – 82.1 billion (from $71.3 billion).
4. Warren Buffet – $76.1 billion (from 75.6 billion).
5. Carlos Slim Helu – $64.2 billion (from $54.5 billion).
6. Mark Zuckerberg – $63 billion (from $56 billion).
7. Larry Ellison – $60.9 billion (from $52.2 billion).
8. Bernard Arnault – $53.8 billion (from $41.5 billion).
9. Michael Bloomberg – $50.5 billion (from $47.5 billion).
10. Charles Koch – $47.7 billion (from $48.3 billion).
So, why is our story different? Why are our dollar billionaires shrinking with decreasing fortunes?
Here are the reasons:
1. Drop in oil revenue.
The prices of oil and the quantity purchased internationally are dropping. And since our economy is largely tied to oil output and income, it automatically affects fortunes.
Some of our billionaires also have huge investment in the oil sector.
Alakija’s FAMFA Oil and Adenuga’s Conoil as well as Dangote Group are big players in the oil and gas sector.
2. Troubled stock market.
From a high of N14 trillion capitalisation in 2008, the market is now recovering at N11.2 trillion.
The huge difference is the loss by players in the market.
And stocks constitute one of the metrics used in wealth computation.
3. Unpredictable forex market.
From a strong Naira which exchanged for about N150/ $1, the story is sad as we are now at an official rate of over N310/ $1.
That humongous difference depletes the fortunes of our billionaires who earn Naira.
4. Unstable polity and economy.
With the uncertainty in the political climate as the 2015 general elections approached, insurgency in the North east and now rising agitation for self determination and restructuring with pockets of crime across the nation, fear is planted in the bosoms of all.
And this atmosphere of instability coupled with the ill health of President Muhammadu Buhari further scares investors.
The recession without end also wipes billions of dollars from the system.
With these scenarios largely unchanged with resolution of the causes unattended to, we are a long way from producing more dollar billionaires.