INTERNATIONAL Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), ActionAid Nigeria on Wednesday, has advised the just re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari to prioritise poverty eradication, and tax evasion perpetrated especially by multinational companies operating in Nigeria.
Ene Obi, ActionAid Country Director, described Nigeria as the richest nation in Africa yet over 87 million people live in abject poverty.
She said beyond the two major areas, President Buhari should also focus on a better approach to addressing corruption, insecurity and human capital development.
In a statement issued in Abuja by Lola Ayanda, the Communication Coordinator for ActionAid on findings during last Saturday Presidential and National Assembly election, the most serious issue identified is electoral abuses.
Nigeria was named capital headquarters of the world in 2018 with 86.9 million people living in extreme poverty.
According to the World Poverty Clock, Nigeria currently has 91.3 million people living in extreme poverty, aside massive population growth expected to hit over 398 million by 2050. With this projection, Nigeria would be the third largest nation in the world, beating the current US population.
“While there are a great number of issues that undoubtedly need to be urgently addressed, ActionAid believes that insecurity, human capital development, poverty eradication and corruption should be prioritised by the re-elected president.
“Addressing poverty must be an immediate and long-term priority for the re-elected president. The current levels of poverty in the country are completely and utterly unacceptable. We are the richest nation in Africa and yet over 87 million of us live in poverty. It is deeply unjust, but more than that, it is dangerous,” Ene noted.
The country director argued that, “Boko Haram was able to take hold in Nigeria as a direct result of the impoverishment and marginalisation of the people. It is no coincidence that the insurgents’ stronghold is in the north-east of Nigeria, where poverty is at its worst. It is evident that effective implementation of pro-poor policies is needed to defeat them.”
The statement reads: “To bring an end to poverty and insecurity in Nigeria, Buhari must vastly improve public services and infrastructure, intensify efforts in tackling the corruption that plagues this country and look for alternate revenue sources, such as the proper taxation of foreign companies.
“Currently Nigeria loses an average of 15 billion USD a year to illicit financial flows, of which most are harmful tax practices. This lost revenue could put millions of out-of-school children back in the classroom.”
There have been reported cases of multinationals in Nigeria, accused of evading tax at the detriment of the country’s development. For instance, South African based MTN was alleged to have evaded tax via undue means such as Transfer pricing.
In 2013, the telecommunication giant set aside N11.398 billion from MTN Nigeria to pay MTN Dubai. It reportedly admitted to the allegation to have made unauthorized payments of N37.6 billion to MTN Dubai between 2010 and 2013.
Other findings revealed that since it commenced operations in Nigeria in 2001, not less than N90.2 billion was repatriated out of the country, under the guise of management fee.
Reacting to circumstances that surrounded the presidential and national assembly poll, the group stated that, “Polling units in different areas of the country reported various types of electoral interference, from the destruction of ballot papers and boxes to the use of scare tactics, such as firing weapons into the air, to disperse potential voters during which 39 Nigerians lost their lives.”
However, she advocated for greater voters awareness and better engagement with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on issues relating to poverty reduction and good governance.