The Roots Of Political Violence In Nigeria: Rejoinder To Stephen Lampe
By Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
March 07, 2007
I read Stephen Lampe’s write-up with the above title recently with
considerable irritation just to say the least! Stephen Lampe portrayed
Nigeria as a flawed society and a failed state! He indulged himself in
multiple generalizations of the most odious types! He told the world that
Nigerians were ungovernable! That Nigerians were intrinsically and
extrinsically violent, aggressive, combative, and unrefined!
Who indeed, is Stephen Lampe? How did he qualify to Psycho analyze one
hundred and twenty million Nigerians at home and abroad and in one full
swoop? How did Lampe arrive at his garrulous conclusions that Nigerians are
essentially and fundamentally ungovernable? What are his criteria or
parameters for measuring and concluding that Nigerians are all these
unprintable labels that he attached to them in his article?
Who gave Lampe the license to portray Nigerians as sub-humans? Lampe
conclusions are outlandish as they are outrageous! Implicit and explicit in
Lampe’s assessment of Nigerians, is that we are irredeemable! Nigerians must reject Lampe’s fatalism!
I feel unqualified to categorize and characterize Lampe, as I do not know
him, as I have never met him; But he has never met me, he surely does not
know me and he has surely not met or known the other one hundred and twenty
million Nigerians! Yet he felt competent to label me and the other Nigerians as unrefined, violent, combative, aggressive etc? We must reject his labels and we must muster the highest magnitude of vehemence and outrage at being unfairly labeled by Lampe!
What does Lampe or any other Nigerians gain by portraying all Nigerians as
the worst of the human specie? I find Lampe’s assertions tasteless and
offensive! Why do some Nigerians only excel when they deride Nigeria?
Spewing idiotic opinions and uncorroborated personal imagination that will
not withstand any intelligent analysis, has become their vexatious practice;Nigeria this Nigeria that blah blah! blah!
Lampe’s assertions must be challenged! Lampe in his ostentatious
generalizations, wrote off and dismissed Nigerians’ capacity for good,
Nigerians’ resilience, Nigerians’ generosity, Nigerians’ tolerance,
Nigerians’ abilities, Nigerians’ legendary hospitality and Nigerians’
goodness! How many Nigerians has Lampe met? How many Nigerians has Lampe dealt with? Where and what are his empirical data that support his
In assessing Nigerian incidents, many commentators cannot resist the urge
engage in hyperboles, the urge to be intellectually dishonest, a rational
commentator or writer would engage in comparative analysis of situations
under discussion or would engage in the examination of data and do a good
business of producing verifiable facts and accurate figures! But when it
comes to Nigeria, spurious and improbable allegations are spewed by the
laziest of journalists and commentators! Such as 10,000 Nigerians have been
killed in four years in political and religious violence! Where are these
Let count the graves! Or were they cremated? Show the world the
ashes! Certainly, some people have died in political and religious riots
during the past four years, nobody should have died! But certainly no 10,000 people have died in Nigeria in the past four years! These numbers are repeated daily by Reuters, The Associated Press, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, VOA etc Who verified these numbers? They are quick to tell you that there are not reliable statistics about trade, commerce, education, but the case is
different at morgues and mortuaries? Where are the death certificates issued by the Foreign Press?
Lampe has only just fed the public with unsupported and fallacious
descriptions and conclusions; His baseless premise led him to a disastrous
It is gross injustice and a great disservice to Nigerians visited on
Nigerians by Lampe with his suggestions that Nigerians are pathologically
violent, aggressive or combative etc. What the heck is raw aggressiveness?
It must be in our air or food?
Nigerians are passionate, and of course emotive in their participation in
politics, people with political convictions are usually emotive, whether
they are Nigerians, Americans or Lebanese! Nigerians are not from Mars!
Nigerians are like everybody else, we are good, and some times we are not,
again, just like everybody else! Nigeria has good people and not so good
people, but the good people are in the majority! Does Lampe know this?
There is blue sky in Nigeria, and I am sure there are blue skies in the
different parts of the world where Lampe has been or has heard of! If Lampe
is currently resident in Nigeria, I suggest that he moves to Ghana where
people are the way he prefers! Nigerians are not docile! Nigerians do not
owe any apologies for how we are and how we conduct ourselves! Who is Lampe? He says violence is a defining element in Nigerian politics!
Somebody should educate Lampe to the effect that Nigerians, just like other
human beings react to their lives’ circumstances, Nigerians are not
Recently, there was an explosion in Lagos and many well meaning Nigerians
rushed to help the injured or wounded, provided first -aid and also rushed
the victims to the hospital, however, there were some Nigerians who resorted to looting from the bank where the explosion had occurred, as there were currency scattered in the open, and this led a commentator on the web site known as Nigeriaworld.com to typify Nigerians/Africans as having no respect or value for lives and as not having humane reaction to emergency situations; This is completely false, of course!
We are more humane than most, We did not cause the First and Second World Wars, Slavery, Holocaust,Colonialism! Nor did we cause atomic bombs to be dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and if there is a Third World War, it will not be caused by Nigerians/Africans!
My reaction to the commentator at Nigeriaworld was, as my reaction and
answer to Lampe now, is that human beings tend to react to life
individually, based on their circumstances and among humans you find will
find the good, bad and the ugly! And this is not peculiar to Nigeria or
In 1977 when there was interruption in electricity supply in New York, there was massive looting by Americans! In 1991 during the Rodney King police brutality trial acquittals of white-policemen, the race riot that ensued sawa lot of lootings in South Central Los Angeles again by Americans! And just recently, the world witnessed large-scale lootings in Iraq after the American invasion of Iraqi cities!
At times of demonstrations, usually scheduled as peaceful and non-violent, frequently, peaceful protests gets out of hand and the planners and governments or law enforcements are surprised by the sudden turn of events! Even music concerts sometimes produce unexpected consequences or reactions of euphoria leading to harmful stampede or death etc
These types of phenomenon are not peculiar to Nigeria or Africa, these are
normal course of events in human interactions everywhere in the world, that
is why there are police forces everywhere! That is why there are bulletproof glasses in grocery stores in New York, in restaurants, and even in the US Post Offices! Expect the unexpected in human interactions! Human behavior is sometimes unpredictable! This dictum does not only apply to Nigerians!
Between 1989 and 1992 the homicide rate in New York City per year averaged
2,500, this in a city of 8 million people, one major factor was the economy
that was in deep recession, when the economy recovered, coupled with
aggressive policing by Mayor Giuliani, homicide rate and other crime problem were reduced to a minimum; During the same period, the former Soviet Union collapsed into multiple republics, and the city of Moscow witnessed a battered economy and skyrocketing crime wave! There was open drug dealing,public drunkenness and increased rate of mafia type organized crime etc. All these were unknown to the Communist Soviet era in the USSR!
Sociologists, Economists and other social engineers have often stated that,
there is a correlation between poverty, high rate of unemployment and crime
wave, as there is a corollary between the docility of peoples under
draconian, repressive dictatorships and the sudden freedom to protest with
attendant exuberance or boisterousness after years of suppression and
intimidation like the Nigerian experience.
Similarly, The Republic of South Africa after the fall of Apartheid system
of government, there was suddenly an increase in crime rate, a wave of car
jacking and armed robberies etc. It should therefore be clear to any
discerning observer that human beings react to situations and circumstances
of their lives! Nigerians are in the midst and mix of humans!
Despite all the “troubles” between Sinn Fein and others in Dublin, I have
never read an Irish person saying or writing that the Irish are
intrinsically and extrinsically violent and extremely ungovernable! Neither
has the Lebanese or Palestinians nor the Israelis! Why Lampe? Why?
The truth is that the Nigerian populace has been longsuffering, Nigerians
have endured immeasurable hardships and difficulties, and as Professor
Ikhariale recently stated “The ordinary Nigerian voter is peace loving and
could not therefore be indicted indiscriminately (as Lampe did!) When, we
evaluate the failure of the electoral process.
It is not the fault of the ordinary citizen who civilly queues up all day in the sun and rain just to cast his ballot for the candidate of his choice that some elite miscreants would thereafter tamper with the computation of the votes thus cast or unlawfully fail to respect the outcome of the decision so wisely made by the electorate” Nigerians have indeed been routinely betrayed, despite painstaking efforts at democracy and good government and good economy, Nigerians have been betrayed by the leadership repeatedly and yet they still voted on April 12 and voted again on April 19 and beyond, This is Nigerian resilience!
Nigerians have endured so much! And yet, Nigerians do not have the sort of unreasonable automatic violent responses that Lampe foists on them!
Another Nigerian Xervia Esebamen extolled the goodness that is common among
Nigerians, according to his letter to Editors of The Guardian Newspapers,
http://odili.net/news/source/2003/apr/15/31.html Nigerians are not bad eggs from bad hens! Esebamen gave the example of an honest National Youths
Service Corps Jegede A. Michael, who returned wads of money to the NYSC,
thereby rejecting an overpayment or an erroneous double allowance in Ikare
Akoko in Ondo state in March of 2003, A poor Youth Corper did this! Even
though we are in a tough economy, and a poor Youth Corper could surely use
Esebamen concluded that Nigerians have honesty and trust flowing in their
veins, He said however, Nigerians are not given credit by detractors! And he is absolutely correct!Lampe must get out of his house and cocoon more often! He will meet good Nigerians!
Nigeria’s able Foreign Minister Alhaji Sule Lamido also accentuated the
goodness of the average Nigerian,
http://odili.net/news/source/2003/apr/22/307.html , when he said the
following last week “the peaceful conduct of the presidential and
governorship elections in the country has shamed prophets of doom who
predicted calamity for the country, God has showed that he loves Nigerians,
Nigerians are peace loving people and people who are enlightened, The
ordinary Nigerian has demonstrated that he believes in Nigerian and loves
Nigeria” No one can say this better! Is Stephen Lampe Listening?
I have previously said the following, which I think is worth repeating for
the benefits of Lampe and others like him “Many Nigerians approached these
elections with trepidation and foreboding, some saw the elections as a test
that would bring in a new dawn and stability followed by development and
prosperity, others saw it as the harbinger and precursor to violence,
anarchy and disintegration; Therefore, the successful conclusion in and of
itself, is an achievement and a relief!
Nigerians demonstrated a discipline of passions, emotions without panic, Nigerians allowed cool heads to prevail in obviously very tense moments, Nigerians maintained all rationality and all Nigerians must be proud of having conducted this monumental elections and fulfilled this momentous national assignment and civic obligations cum responsibility; The heated polity of the last twelve months and the Nigerian political passions and exuberance can overwhelm an outsider, but Nigerians all love peace and prosperity and that is what we will have as well deserved” http://www.gamji.com/NEWS2328.htm
Friends and foes of Nigeria have all said that the Nigerian electorate was
very orderly, peaceful and patient, despite the sun, torrential rains and
occasional delays during the elections! Lampe insist that the same
electorate is permeated with violence?
Nigerians have been very patient and not violent! Nigerians have accumulated stress, frustrations and poverty resulting from the economy that has been battered for too long! It is a surprise that our anger level is not uncontrollable! Nigerians deserve every credit but instead, Lampe
obnoxiously characterized these same Nigerians! Why is Lampe casting
aspersions on a hundred and twenty million people? After all that they have
Nigerians have demonstrated confounding magnitude of patience and tolerance,Nigerians have despite their circumstances believe, that on the other side of pains, sufferings and immeasurable hardships, there is love, revival,recovery and rebirth, Nigerians have therefore remained patient and hopeful! And I therefore find Lampe unfair description of Nigerians profoundly ridiculous!
All these statistics and occurrences in other countries that I have referred to above, are consistent with what has been happening in Nigeria, Nigerians have just recovered from the most repressive and draconian of dictatorships,Nigerian economy has been battered for about twenty years of Structural Adjustment Program, there is the attendant high rate of unemployment (idle hands the devil’s workshop?) Throw passionate politicking to the mix!
Nigerians are in the circumstances, are like birds, that have been caged in
the cargo hold of a long-distance flight or in the hull of a ship, at the
end, freedom is sweet, the birds are hungry and they must flutter and run
and fly for dear life and run or fly to fill their empty stomachs! What part of these does Lampe not understand? He should be compelled to read MayaAngelou’s famed “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”
The Electioneering campaign is finally over! And how about those who
predicted that the Nigerian sky would fall and civilization in Nigeria would come to an end? Nigeria is still here and we are all still here! All those who predicted doomsday and apocalypse are all forgiven for not appreciating the good sense of responsibility that the electorate and all Nigerians possess; Give Nigerians credit for acting responsibly as they always do and as they did on election dates when it mattered a great deal.
Many people, some Nigerians and others who are yet to learn the magnitude of the sense of responsibility of the average Nigerian, were quick to forecast doomsday scenarios, they used WMD or Weapons of Mass Distraction!
The rest of us Nigerians must get the message out and be adamant at it, thatwe are abundantly good! We should do a better business of letting the world know that Nigerians are better than good!
We are excellent! We are charitable, we hospitable and we are our brothers’ keeper; We should begin to portray ourselves and other Nigerians in the best light, if we do not blow our good trumpets, non-Nigerians would not know that we have trumpets,or they might steal our trumpets or break our trumpets!
The way the world is now, is such that image is everything, and countries and corporations spend huge sums of their resources on image building, on carving reputation and on putting best foot forward.
Some Nigerians like Lampe, tend to excel in using hyperboles in describing
minor incidents and situations that are common in every human society,
Nigerians are not from mars! They excel in exaggerating our benign
imperfections and minor flaws!
Some Nigerians tend to exacerbate innocuous situations by making
inflammatory statements and blowing out of proportions, matters that are
usual occurrence in every human society, are often presented in Nigeria as
outrageous and outlandish happenings in human interrelationships! Some
aspire to present Nigerians wittingly or unwittingly as less than other
human beings, in behavior, actions, attitude and dispositions, but the truth is that Nigerians are like other human beings on earth! And in many aspects and instances of human conduct and frailties, Nigerians demonstrate superior conduct and comportment.
Lampe should drop his elitist grandiloquence and his nonsensical
descriptions of Nigerians, unless these are personal traits of his? I have
to wonder if Lampe described his personal or family traits or tendencies? As it sometimes happens, people tend to project their love or their personal hatred or bitterness unto others, a sort of transference?
Perhaps Lampe himself or his family are inherently violent, combative and
aggressive by nature and he wants to discuss that with the rest of the
world? That is his prerogative; He must however not drag Nigerians with him!In this his unruly manner!
Is Lampe a Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Psychoanalyst? Whichever and whatever he is, he must desist from further mass diagnosis of Nigerians that are not his patients, and Nigerians that he has never met! Is what you say of Nigerians, true of yourself?
Nigerians must collectively reject Lampe’s misdiagnosis and description of
the multitudes of Nigerians that are full of overflowing goodness, kindness,hospitality and genuine human qualities and attributes!