American College Professor write Open Letter on “Fuel Subsidy Withdrawal” to Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan

An Open Letter to President Goodluck Jonathan:
Reconsider Fuel Subsidy Withdrawal

January 12, 2012

President Goodluck Jonathan
Office of the President
Aso Rock Villa, Asokoro District, Abuja Nigeria

Your Excellency,

The ongoing protests over the removal of fuel subsidy in Nigeria are presently hindering your genuine effort to deliver your promise of a “breath of fresh air” to Nigerians. Presently, commerce in Nigeria is in jeopardy, and meaningful development in the country in peril. As such, Nigeria urgently needs a comprehensive solution to address the root causes of these protests.

Your Excellency, I must begin by stating, at the outset, my aim in this letter. As one witnessing the immediate impacts of this subsidy removal on the people of Nigeria, and as one whose works center on Nigerian African issues, my aim is to join fellow compatriots who are stretching and searching for a workable comprehensive solution that would help you bring that “fresh air” of progress and development to Nigeria.

Let us start with some rationale for fuel subsidy withdrawal.

Fuel Subsidy Removal: Some Justifications

One argument is that fuel subsidy system fuels corruption in the oil industry. In addition, the subsidy prolongs Nigeria’s dependence on fossil fuels, by hindering Nigerian efforts to establish and run crude oil refineries. By removing the subsidy, Nigeria will save “$8 billion” that would provide basic infrastructures in Nigeria1. Our Financial Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, elaborates eloquently:

“This money [$8 billion] will be used to improve delivery of services for the people. Let us put the money into areas that will facilitate production, such as provision of power supply, providing state-of-the-art hospitals, especially to curb the maternal mortality rate. Government would invest heavily in refineries, which will be sustained by private investors, as well as hydro power projects. This, including others, would create more jobs for our people.” (

Your Excellency, while the above arguments make sound economic sense, withdrawal of fuel subsidy AT THIS TIME in Nigeria hurts Nigerian working class, and further poses far-reaching implications that are hurting your efforts to move Nigeria forward. Here are some implications.

Fuel Subsidy Removal: The Implications

Mr. President, it should be noted that before fuel subsidy was withdrawn on January 1, 2012, a liter of fuel in Nigeria was 65 Naira (35 cents of a Dollar). However, when the subsidy was withdrawn, a liter of fuel jumped to 150 Naira (93 cents) overnight. This sudden rise in fuel price spurred a sudden spike in prices of goods and services in Nigeria, and “in a country where most people live on less than $2 a day,” and “70 percent of the population live below the poverty line,” such rise in prices of say food, and transportation adversely affects Nigerian working class. Nigeria needs a more comprehensive solution to address the root causes of the present economic crises in the nation.

Toward a more Comprehensive Solution

Your Excellency, kindly consider the following prescriptive measures as a part of your genuine efforts to bring “fresh air” to Nigerians.

1. Close Corruption Pipeline in the Oil Industry

Given that fuel subsidy feeds corruption in the oil industry, it goes without saying that the first cause of action by Nigerian government is to close that pipeline of corruption. Specifically, “since the cost of crime, corruption, and trade mispricing account for $130 billion in Nigeria between 2000 and 2009,” representing an estimate of $14 billion a year, which, in fact, exceeds the estimated “$8 billion” yield from subsidy withdrawal, the obvious logical answer RIGHT NOW lies squarely with ending corruption in the oil industry, not fuel subsidy.

2. Nigeria should Refine its own Crude Oil

For Nigeria to claim the lion share of its own oil revenue, and for your administration to deliver your promise of “fresh air” with that revenue, Nigeria must refine at least 90% of its own crude oil – not just 30%. This golden advice from Hon. E. F. Arrundell, Ambassador of Venezuela to Nigeria, to Nigerian National Assembly in November, 2009 should not be lost:

“In Venezuela, since 1999, we’ve never had a raise in fuel price. We only pay $1.02 to fill the tank. What I pay for with N12,000 here (Nigeria), in Venezuela I’ll pay N400. What is happening is simple. Our President [Hugo Chavez] decided one day to control the industry, because it belongs to the Venezuelans. If you don’t control the industry, your development will be in the hands of the foreigners.”

Your Excellency, it only makes sense. If we own the cow, we must milk the cow. By milking the cow, we rip all the benefits from the cow. Nigeria must build world class refineries, and refine its own crude oil as done in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Kuwait, Iraq, to wit.

3. Toward an Effective Leadership

Your Excellency, your “breath of fresh air” promise to Nigerians underscores the obvious fact that Nigeria is in dire need of effective leadership. I am hopeful that Your Excellency will fulfill that promise before the end of your term. Indeed, leadership is parenthood; leadership is action, not a position. Just as parents nurture, support, and encourage their children, leaders must nurture, support and encourage their own people. In fact, countries we consider progressive, has gotten the message clearly. As such, leaders in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, America, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, Britain, among others, do NOT fly to Nigeria to open bank accounts, or buy houses. Similarly, they do not fly to Nigeria for medical checkup/treatments or send their children to Nigerian universities. They bank in their own countries, build and maintain superior hospitals, schools, and other infrastructures, knowing quite well that a rat does not labor for a squirrel. Effective leadership – “breath of fresh air” – is the key to move Nigeria forward. Stay the course.


Your Excellency, the ongoing protests in Nigeria today suggest that people do not wake up one morning and start protests – their anger, everyone knows, far predates your administration. Indeed, protests, as we know, usually follow some systematic subjugation of a people over some period of time, as seen in the US during sixties; South Africa during the years of Apartheid; and recently in Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria. Clearly, an estimated “70% of Nigerians, living below poverty line” for some years now, have reached a breaking point. At this time, they cannot tolerate additional increase in their cost of living, despite sound economic arguments for subsidy withdrawal. Accordingly, we ask Your Excellency to reinstate, AT THIS CRITICAL TIME, fuel subsidy that would return the pump price of petrol to N65 per liter, and GRADUALLY PHASE OUT the subsidy by embarking on a comprehensive solution adumbrated above.

Mr. President, thanks for your reconsideration, and thanks for seeking a more comprehensive solution to bring “fresh air” to Nigerians.

May God bless you, and the people of Nigeria, and help you deliver your promise of “fresh air” to Nigerians.


Bedford Nwabueze Umez, PhD.
Professor of Government, Lee College, Baytown, Texas.



22 Responses to “American College Professor write Open Letter on “Fuel Subsidy Withdrawal” to Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan”

  1. Nuhu Ibn Ismail says:

    Thank you prof for this elaborate explanation. The ear that will heed, let it heed. This punishment mated on Nigetians is rather too harsh. How callous would one think that he will wake up one morning and have a day light dream of imposing his wish on his people nilly willy.

    Is time not ripped enough for our leaders to start treating us with due respect? Do they think that we still live in the old orders where leaders intimidate citizenry and go unchallenged?

    On as much as removal of fuel subsidy may help curb corruption o a certain level, the root through which the act is perpetuated must be checked before further measures must be taken.

    You do not leave the shit in the room and spray perform and hope that the room will not smell again.

    Once more, those to whom this candid advice is meant should be wise enough to to heed and imbibe the quality of good leadership – listen to their people and act appropriately.


  2. I found this submit useful

  3. Roland says:

    This is so inspiring;Please Mr. Prof. We need the likes of you to steer this country around;I was amazed that it was a Nigerian writing to us from abroad; a NIGERIAN INDEED.
    We have lost alot to the outside world; human resources are draining off, just because there is no future in Nigeria;What a shame: This is the kind of advise I expect from the likes of Ngozi okonjo and the Minister of petroleum, from the knowledge they have gained studying overseas, instead they come here and join the cabals in raping this country.
    Nigeria is about to burst and the consequences will be like what we have just witnessed in the Arab world; These leaders are taking us for granted because they are used to the norm; ALL MAN FOR HIMSELF, GOD FOR US ALL.
    But a time will surely come when all will be for one and one for all. That time is in the Horizon; be warned.
    Occupy till I come.

  4. Manga Lawal says:

    May God endowed u with more knowledge and i pray the arrogant president will see and reverse and follow the right way

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks prof. Our government in Nigeria is like a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.The soud of sirens leading convoys of cars following d rullers all about, The sound of flattery n tom-tom drums @ ceremonies of conferent of meaningless chieftaincy titles on d rulers. The sound of presentation of Adres of Welcome n d music of half-naked dancing girls welcoming d rulers. Then where a w going in dis country?

  6. Obed Ofor says:

    I only wish that our president reads this article. Nigeria has intelligent people. The problem is that most have left the country due to bad economy unleashed by bad leadership.

  7. kessington Bello says:

    very simle and straight but will they do the right thing. GEJ is surrounded by sychophants and people who are after their own pockets. may God help mr. president. thanx prof and God bless

  8. What a wonderful economic blue print from this man of Venezuela ?
    God bless you.
    I confess you actually read and understood your onions well as not to harm the people’s right. May it be well with you.
    GEJ must copy and follow your advise because his advisers do not know their left and right.
    They are the type that copied in exam hall to cheat and pass exams without putting in practised what they were taught.
    He must block the way of corruption for him to succeed. Anything short of that must not work even if the subsidy is finally removed, there would be no dividend without blocking the avenue of corruption.

  9. Anonymous says:

    As simple as that mr professor,may God increase u in knowledge.thanx for your time sir.

  10. Inuwa kontagora says:

    The prof have spoken well, those with listening ears should listen. As he said “foreigners wuld never come in 2 open an account nor seek for medical services in nigeria“
    “One does not use both feet in testing the depth of a river“


    Nice and patriotic letter. but will our obstinate president listen?

    • Idowu says:

      May God empower you in all your endavours.I wish mr president will take these pieces of advice & reverse the price so as to retain his name Goodluck or change his name by himself to badluck.

  12. Lain says:

    The letter is a good one.
    I hope it will get to our confused president.

  13. oyetoro wumi says:

    thanks alot 4 dis letter.may God b wth u.

  14. Anonymous says:

    We av suffered enough bcus of their heartless n greediness

  15. malique says:

    Prof, am glad you time to write to Mr President may God bless you

  16. Adeyemi says:

    What a good advice, may God help our president, and all the economic “boko haram” we have in this nation,God will deal with them. And again let’s as a nation look elsewhere for generation of revenue, may God us as we help ourselves. Thanks

  17. alice says:

    i am happy about this letter i pray it wil get to the write people that need to read it

  18. Am convinced dis writer is not only a Nigerian, but a very patriotic one indeed! His treatise has encapsulated d diagnosis and prognosis of d current Nigerian situation. This is d kind of economic blueprint expected from Okonjo Iweala if she truly cares about GEJ and loves Nigeria.
    I humbly plead with Mr. President to drop all other counsels in favor of this highly superior and seminal reasoning. He has spoken for d 70 per cent really downtroden Nigerians. Period.

  19. Saifullahi Sani Zangon-Aya says:

    Hope this letter will reach GEJ & put into consideration.

  20. Ebuka says:

    this article is superb, lets hope the right people get the message

  21. I.O.Oguagha says:

    Damned good letter, best letter ever, i have tears in my eyes.


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