Open Letter To Fellow Nigerians, By Kazeem Akintunde

As for man, whenever his Lord tests him, gives him honour and gifts, He says ‘My Lord has honoured me.’ But whenever He tests him, restricting his livelihood for him, he says ‘My Lord has humiliated me’. Not at all. But you do not honour the orphans and you do not urge the feeding of the poor. And you devour inheritance with all greed and you love wealth with immense love’- Quran 89 Verse 15-20.




My dear fellow Nigerians, I have decided to write you this open letter with the hope that we would learn one or two things from one another and share ideas on how to survive in present-day Nigeria. In the last few weeks, life has been tough for many Nigerians. To eat has become a herculean task, while taking care of children and dependants is now a burden to many.


This is due to the fact that on May 29th, after the swearing-in ceremony of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the 16th president of our beloved country, his first major pronouncement was that fuel subsidy is gone for good. The following day, the price of fuel galloped from N189 per litre to N537. Just last week, it further jumped to N617. Make no mistake about it, nobody should be surprised if fuel gets to N1,000 per litre in the near future. Many Nigerians call for the deregulation of the downstream sector of the fuel industry as well as the removal of subsidy on fuel. This is because many of our leaders turned the sector into a gold mine. What they did was to first cripple the Nation’s four refineries. Since then, we have had to rely on fuel importation from neighbouring countries.


Some past leaders felt there was the need to make life more meaningful for us and they introduced subsidies so that we could get cheaper fuel. But big men in the corridor of power who have become more like parasites, smelled raw cash, and turned its plundering into a bazaar. Many tapped into the bonanza and became overnight billionaires. If we consumed 40 million litres of fuel per day, those in charge turned the numbers into 70 million litres and got paid for it. Our Customs could no longer protect our borders and several millions of litres of subsidized fuel found their way to our neighbouring countries. It was so bad that we started taking loans from international organizations to pay for subsidized fuel in Nigeria. Greed was on all fours, sweeping the country, and ready to devour practically everything in its way.


Fellow compatriots, I am not here today to tell you how the big boys brought us to this sorry pass. Today’s Discourse is on how you and I will survive present-day reality. How to survive post-fuel deregulation and removal of subsidy.


If you believe that there is no point wasting your life in Nigeria again as many have lost hope and you intend to leave the country, all well and good. But please, ensure that you do so in a legal way and plan adequately ahead. Your planning must start with having an international passport. To get one now in Nigeria will take you between six to 10 months, unless you are ready to grease the palms of immigration officers at the passport offices. Although they are poor like you and I, they have managed to create bottlenecks that slow down the process in order to enrich themselves. After all, it is said that it is where you work that you will ‘chop’.


Let me share my experience with you, dear readers. My Passport expired in January, and I spoke with a top official of the immigration service about renewing it. I was told that it will take me nothing less than four months to process and that my fee would be N100,000. The official price for a 64-page passport with 10-year validity which I sought was N70,000. I decided to do it legally by applying online and paying the approved fee. Online, the earliest date I got for capturing was April. I did my capturing in April and was given a slip with which to pick up my Passport in June. This is July ending, yet my passport is still not ready. In other words, a process that started in February when I applied and paid online may, hopefully, end in August or September. We are doing well.


So, if you intend to ‘Japa’, start your preparations early. Getting a Visa is another hurdle you will have to cross, as many countries now look down on anyone holding a Nigerian passport. It is so bad that even African countries are turning Nigerians back from their borders. Seychelles is the latest country that has turned its back on Nigerians due to the activities of fellow countrymen in that tiny East African country.


To get a tourist Visa into the United Kingdom now, you must have nothing less than N15 million in your Bank account, with proof that you earn a monthly income above N1m in Nigeria. Any amount less than that means that you are not likely to return to the country and unless you have someone sponsoring your trip, your visa application may be denied. Now tell me how many Nigerians earn above N1m monthly? What the UK government is indirectly telling us is that you are a poor Nigerian if your salary is less than N1m, which is roughly less than one thousand pounds.


Dear Compatriots, if however, you have decided not to leave the country and survive this dire situation, then you have to put on your thinking cap and work out a survival strategy. As I said earlier, do not put your hope on any politician. They are all united in their own survival battle too. When the newly inaugurated 10th National Assembly budgeted over N100 billion for bulletproof cars and other amenities which, they claimed, will make their work easier, did you hear any PDP or Labour Party Senator or member of the House of Representatives complaining or planning to reject the offer? They are there for themselves and the earlier you ‘borrow yourself brain’ the better.


If you can join politics to emancipate your family, all is well and good. My admonition is that you should join politics not to be a follower that they will ‘dash’ N1000 after every meeting or be used as a thug during elections. Go there with the aim of getting yourself elected into any office. Even as a Local Government Councillor, you are made for life.


If, however, you do not want to dabble into the murky waters of Nigerian politics, try and get another stream of income to supplement what you currently earn. Consider learning a trade or getting additional training through online courses. There are many online programme and some are free. Use your spare time to fully engage in things that can enhance your survival in Nigeria. Have you considered talking to your boss to reduce the number of days that you will be physically present in the office? Can you work from home? If your office is far from your home, have you considered pooling resources together with your co-workers? Like contributing to fuel a car that you will all use for that week? If you have to take public transport, can you reduce the cost by trekking half of the distance? Now, you have to see trekking as a form of exercise which is also good for your health, or invest in a bicycle that is cost-effective and riding of which is equally good exercise?


My fellow countrymen, is your child/children attending expensive private schools? Have you considered enrolling them in a place where the fee is cheaper and closer to your home? Have you thought of public schools? Don’t kill yourself because you want the best for your children. Many of us attended public schools and we are doing okay today.


Do you still have land in your backyard? Have you considered backyard farming? Are you interested in poultry or you prefer snail farming? These are what you should be thinking about to work out practical solutions to survival. The Nigeria of today demands that you cut out non-essential expenditures from your budget. It is not compulsory to attend all social events that you are invited to. Cut down or eliminate aso-ebi completely. If you are a lover of drinks, reduce or cut it out completely from your budget. You won’t die. If Fridays are for mingling with the boys at the end of which N10,000 and above will be wasted, it is time to think twice. Sit down and plan with your wife on how to survive the daily skyrocketing prices of foodstuff. This is not the time for unnecessary ‘bigmanism’. Even if you give her N200,000 to take care of the home front in a month, my brother, you still need to calm down and plan with her. Your N200,000 today cannot adequately take care of a family of six. Be open and honest with your spouse. If you are, you will find a way to manage whatever you have together. Again, it is time to let go of those side chicks and other extra curricula activities that drain your pocket before month’s end.


In terms of feeding, if you have to combine breakfast with lunch so that your children can be well catered for, my dear, do it. If you can survive without DSTV/GOTV, my fellow countryman, let it go. The most important aspect is to watch your health. This is not the time to start thinking negative thoughts. Protect your mental health. Tough times don’t last, only tough people do. It may be hard today, but we don’t know the plan God has for us tomorrow. Put a smile on your face and affirm that it will be well with you and your family in spite of the present hardship.




I hope and pray that our leaders will have the masses in mind and work towards improving their lot as quickly as possible. Though the general feeling among the common man is that many of them are not there to solve our problems or to make life more comfortable for us but for themselves and their immediate families, we take solace in the knowledge that we have survived tough times. This too, shall pass.


But to protect your mental health, know that there is none dependable and indispensable. If our leaders choose to do well, we will thank God. If they fail (and we fervently pray they don’t), we will also thank God with the hope that He touches the heart of those coming after them. You may think that you have elected them to provide social amenities for you and make your life more bearable, but the fact remains that they are also trying to escape poverty like you and I. The only sad reality is that after most of them are out of the poverty chain, greed sets in. And that is where the quoted Qur’an verse above becomes apt.


Let me end by quoting another holy book, the Bible, which also warns our leaders against greed. Luke 12 V 15 states: ‘Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.


Again Proverbs 15 verse 17 says: ‘Those who are greedy for unjust gain bring trouble into their homes but the person who hates bribes will live’.


I hope that those concerned will listen to God’s admonitions. What God has blessed us with as a nation is enough to take care of all of us if only those in charge will have the fear of God and dispose of their duties with all righteousness. As for us, the followers, let’s also remember that we are all in this together, and when we point a finger, the rest points back at us. May God heal our land.



See you next week

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