CelebrityNetWorth, the website which provided the “thoroughly researched” material for the story that President Goodluck Jonathan is the sixth richest African president, at $100 million, now says the Nigeria leader is worth only a miserly $10million.
The controversy began with a feature by another website, RichestLifestyle, which put Mr. Jonathan’s net worth at $100 million, using an estimate published by CelebrityNetWorth.
Threatened with a lawsuit by the Nigerian leader last week, RichestLifestyle deleted the story. In its place, the website indicated that the source of the material was the California-based CelebrityNetWorth.
In a statement, presidential spokesman Reuben Abati declared that President Jonathan’s net worth was “a very, very far cry from the $100 million,” and threatened to sue all the publishers of the story at home and abroad.
It would appear that following the deletion of the story by RichestLifeStyle on Thursday, CelebrityNetWorth began to feel the heat, leading to its revision of the material sometime last weekend, even using some of the language by the spokesman.
The revised material reads, in part: “Goodluck Jonathan is a Nigerian politician who has a net worth of $10 million…Upon being elected Vice President in May 2007, Dr. Jonathan voluntarily revealed his estimated personal wealth. At the time, Dr. Jonathan's 2007 net worth was reportedly equal to just over $8.5 million US dollars. Dr. Jonathan has since been criticized for not making more frequent public declarations of his wealth. Some reports have even claimed that Dr. Jonathan's personal net worth could be as high as $250 million. In October 2014, a Presidential spokesman disputed these higher end estimates and maintained that he 'regularly declares his assets as required by Nigerian laws'.”
It is unclear if the Nigerian President will pursue his lawsuit threat, particularly as neither has specifically retracted the publication, let alone apologized to him as he demanded in the presidential statement. In its revised Jonathan profile, CNW indicates it is aware of what may be ahead. “The President's office also threatened to sue any website that mentioned these alleged higher end net worth estimates,” it said.
The story appears to have inflicted a dent on the character of CelebrityNetWorth, which brags about the authenticity of its stories.
“All of our figures and articles are thoroughly researched, scrutinized and fact checked by our team of writers and financial analysts,” it says on its website. “The figures are acquired from all publicly available information including salaries, real estate holdings, divorces, record sales, royalties and endorsements.”
Analysts say that by moving President Jonathan’s estimate by 90% hurts the brand tremendously, suggesting that it may have merely manufactured the figures because of the international image of Nigerian leaders concerning corruption.
Despite that, President Jonathan’s image is unlikely to benefit from the latest development because of his refusal to declare his assets publicly, about which he has said he does not “give a damn.” In 2012, he explained that the only reason he had declared his assets in 2007 was because he was pressurized to do so by his boss, President Umaru Yar’Adua.
At that time, Mr. Jonathan declared he was worth slightly less than N295 million (about $8.5million), which raised eyebrows considering he had been Governor of Bayelsa State for only about a year and a half before he became Vice-President.
Since he assumed office, Nigerians have accused him of encouraging corruption in the country, having refused to investigate several corruption allegations or implement the reports of anti-corruption panels, granting state pardon to his friend and indicted former governor Dipreye Alamieyeseigha, and declaring that stealing by public officers is not corruption.
RichestLifestyle, despite deleting the Jonathan entry in its story, has added an interesting new introduction. “Africa is the second largest continent in the world. It is also world’s second most populous continent and regarded as the poorest continent. There are 47 African nations led by leaders who have been ruling for over a decade. Some of these leaders and their families are very rich and their wealth are (sic) considered ill-gotten. They make their wealth from natural resources of these nations.”
Its profile of what it now calls “8 Richest African Presidents and Kings as of 2014” places Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe’s net worth at $10 Million, the spot he would share with Mr. Jonathan if the website uses CelebrityNetWorth’s new valuation of the Nigeria leader.
In the past week since Mr. Jonathan’s lawsuit threat was issued, about five days since RichestLifeStyle deleted the original story, and a few days since CelebrityNetWorth downgraded his net worth, SaharaReporters has not noticed any publication apologizing to Mr. Jonathan.