The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, earns an a monthly income of about N1.6 million, according to his filing with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which also contained his tax filings from the years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Why it matters: People are quite surprised by Atiku’s claim as the amount is relatively modest based on his status as the founder of a number of lucrative Nigerian businesses.
One thing is clear: Atiku’s lifestyle does not match his income claims. However it is possible that he earns the claimed amount in reality. As a business owner, Atiku can decide to pay himself as low as N1 per year – this would not be illegal and not the first time.
Global founders and CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, are known to earn only $1 per year. It is quite likely that the business finances their personal lifestyles including travel, entertainment and personal staff. We do not know the full details in Atiku’s case.
One Big Question: Atiku’s income declaration raises a number of concerns which many people have been sharing. However there is one big question: Is Atiku paying his fair share?
That is a very valid question, and it is something the media and his fellow contenders for the highest office need to put to him. Wealthy individuals like Atiku – based on his declaration – tend to pay less personal income taxes than a lot of working class mid-managers at big private firms and multinationals. Nigerian ex-vice presidents are entitled to a monthly allowance of N250,000 and this figure represents as much as 20% of his income claims. Other Small and Medium Enterprise owners are also likely to find themselves paying more taxes than Atiku.
One of the reactions to his INEC declaration came from tech entrepreneur, Mark Essien who tweeted that he pays more in taxes than Atiku whose businesses employ as much as 50,000 workers.
I am confused: I have paid more tax than Atiku has in the last 3 years? I thought he was a billionaire who employed 50,000 people? https://t.co/5TIod13gN1
— Mark Essien (@markessien) October 26, 2018