Forbes does not list the richest children of sitting presidents, as claimed in Nigeria

Posts shared thousands of times claim that US business magazine Forbes will list or has listed Yusuf Buhari, the son of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, as the fourth richest son of any sitting president in the world, allegedly worth $2.3 billion. But Forbes released no such report and a spokesman said they do not list the richest children of sitting presidents.

The incorrect posts, which have been shared at least 4,000 times between dozens of accounts on Facebook and Twitter, originated on some news websites in Nigeria. One story (archived here, here and here) claimed that Forbes “is about to publish a list of the richest president’s/despot’s kids on the planet and Yusuf Buhari made it to number 4 with a net worth of $2.3bn US dollars”.

Other accounts, including this, this and this, claimed that Forbes already made “the list of the richest president's/despot's kids on the planet and Yusuf Buhari made it to number 4 with a net worth of $2.3bn US dollars”.

A screenshot taken on May 10, 2019 claiming to show that Forbes valued Yusuf Buhari to be worth $2.3bn

Daily Independent, a local newspaper, also reported the story, archived here.

Festus Keyamo, spokesman for the Muhammadu Buhari re-election campaign, denied the claim, stating it was being promoted by the opposition.

A spokesman for Forbes said they do not list the richest children of sitting presidents.

“Forbes licensees have not published and have no plans to research such a list,” Matthew Hutchison, senior vice-president of corporate communications told AFP.

Yusuf Buhari, and Muhammadu Buhari are not on any Forbes wealth list for 2019 or any other year in the magazine’s history.  

AFP found no report stating that Yusuf Buhari’s worth as $2.3 billion.

According to Forbes African Billionaires List for 2019, there are only four rated dollar billionaires in Nigeria: Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man with $10.3bn; Mike Adenuga, telecoms and oil mogul in control of $9.2bn; Abdulsamad Rabiu, Dangote’s prime cement competitor in Nigeria at $1.6bn; and Folorunsho Alakija, vice chair of Famfa Oil, estimated to be worth $1.1bn.

Buhari declared his assets after taking office in 2015.

These included $150,000 in his personal account, five homes and two mud houses, as well as farms an orchard and a ranch with 270 head of cattle, 25 sheep, five horses and a variety of birds. He also stated that he had shares in three firms, two undeveloped plots of lands, and two cars bought from his savings.

Other Claims

The article also claims that Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angolan President, was “the only other African to beat him to score 3rd on the list with a net worth of $10bn”.

Indeed, Isabel dos Santos, the oldest daughter of Angola's longtime former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, is rated by Forbes as the richest woman in Africa. Her wealth is, however, estimated to be 2.3 billion -- not $10bn as claimed by the viral post.

The post also claims that the daughter of former Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, is also on the list for her $6bn wealth or “loot”. We found no record of any of Chavez’s children on the Forbes lists.

Does Forbes rate despots and presidents?

An article published by Forbes in 2011 says “the richest people in Africa could easily be former and current presidents and rulers of African countries,” but they do not make it to Forbes list.

According to Forbes, it “has long separated rulers and dictators from our annual rankings of the World’s Billionaires, distinguishing between personal, entrepreneurial wealth and wealth derived largely from positions of power, where lines often blur between what is owned by the country and what is owned by the individual”.