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Still on our youths, dealing with cognitive biases

So, still on the youths, I once tried to do extensive work on cognitive bias or dissonances. There is a psychological term which refers to…

So, still on the youths, I once tried to do extensive work on cognitive bias or dissonances. There is a psychological term which refers to some beliefs that we hold to be true and with which we operate daily. They are ideas inserted deep in our minds which we don’t even think about, but about which if we paused, we would realise they are false.

As we grow, we tend to have more of these biases. Age and experience should grant us wisdom so that we outgrow these dissonances, but we hardly do. They are:  

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  1. That the grass is always greener on the other side. It usually is not. And if it really is, it’s because your neighbour probably spends more time tending his grass and investing in it. 
  2. That yesterday is always better than today. Many times, it is not. Many of the youths complaining about Nigeria and Lagos today and speaking in such depressing manner, would have been more frustrated if they were teenagers a couple of decades back. But we grew up then, in relative want, but never derided our nation the way they now do. It was the military days anyway. Everyone knew their bounds. 
  3. Money and things do not bring happiness. We just end up trying to fill an unfillable void. The Nigerian youths who organised EndSARS were mostly children of very rich people, who were themselves very rich. Still, they complain a lot, and bitterly too. The question is; why? Boredom? Rootlessness? Did their parents throw money at problems that require something else? How come the angriest youths in Nigeria are the most-privileged? And they aren’t angry because they want a better nation for all, necessarily. It’s more about them comparing Nigeria with abroad. We are talking about the generation that wants success without a story. And the disconnection from, and ignorance of history is now proving to have disastrous, existential consequences on our nation. 
  4. Nigeria is a useless, dirty country. This is another rife belief and oft-repeated statement.  But in cleaning her up lies the money that is to be made. Also, the best way to find happiness is to give of yourself – your time, money, excess clothes, properties and so one. Everything you see as being chaotic in Nigeria is indeed an opportunity. 
  5. It is the end of history. This is often the attitude we get. Nigeria is 62 years old. They say we have killed the country. That we have wasted 62 years doing rubbish. But recall the first 10 years of confusion that I described above? Then came about 30 years of military rule. We’ve only had a fair stretch of 24 years of civilian self-rule since 1999.  The experiment so far has shown that we are yet immature.

Politicians mostly fend for themselves, and a lot of looting goes on. But it is not the end of the world and the solution to a headache is not self-decapitation. We are still writing history. History is not about to end. But many people always have that foreboding feeling that time is ending, and things must immediately change and if it does not, they believe in tearing the system down. Many youths have been threatening that they will burn the country down if their candidate is not declared a winner. 

  So, I am indeed concerned by the seething anger among the urban youths of Lagos and other state capitals, especially those who voted en masse for the Obi-Datti ticket which is anchored on those three principles I described above which I don’t believe is sustainable or even appropriate for the development of Nigeria.

Some people don’t want to entertain the idea of a united Nigeria (and I’ve started to see, just as it appeared during EndSARS, hashtags for EndNigeria, just because their candidate did not win an election), but I see that as a task that we can achieve; indeed a task that we have been saddled with. There must be a way to reach the angry Nigerian – especially the youths. There must be a way of engaging them and selling a positive vision to them. 

One thing I will advise is that we all delve into as much history as possible – young and old. The more I read history – of Africa, of the tribes of Nigeria, of Britain and America and just about everywhere else – the more confident I became that we can make Nigeria work and that though the progress may be slow, we need not destroy the country out of anger when we could have bided our time and ‘take off’ like Chinese bamboo at some point.

The more I went into history, the more I saw that other countries had gone through this stage that we are (in slightly different ways), and many were worse.  And I saw the kind of hard work they went through to get to where they are today. This is why I have been harping on hard work for all.

We seem stuck at a point where everybody is seeking comfort and enjoyment with the littlest of effort and value-addition. This is why we are permanently stuck with importing everything while producing nothing.

Many have become mega-rich on the back of our import addiction and so should show some contrition. I put out a long article on the history of American democracy which I believe could be of help to our restless youths. See https://www.premiumtimesng.com/opinion/575346-before-we-destroy-our-democracy-we-better-study-history-by-tope-fasua.html.

Nigeria is an open sesame, a clean canvass, a great opportunity for anyone who would like to add value.  We should be careful not to leave this space to foreigners, at the mercy of a disconnected generation of entitled Nigerians, or ne’er-do-wells only to be complaining about how bad things are from abroad.  

In pursuit of this goodness, however, the young Nigerian should also look inwards. Ensure you have a good attitude to life and that that positivism shows through in your outlook, actions and thoughts. People with positive attitudes will see the world gravitate to them even though they will also see their own fair share of tribulations, disappointments and betrayals. They will get jobs, and their businesses will thrive. They are also likely to find good partners.

Nigerian youths should stop going around with the idea that someone somewhere is cheating them or about to cheat them. They shouldn’t imagine every leader as a thief. This kind of thinking limits their potential.  For Nigeria to get forward too, our youths must develop a spirit of magnanimity. Nigerians used to be very generous but the realities of economics have made the current youth generation into selfish lots.

Also, prejudiced stories passed down by parents have reduced the kind of cohesion we could have had among our youth. I am preaching the right spirit and attitude that Nigerian youths need to have today for a better society; the kind of attitude that makes them see good where others see bad – like the Biblical two spies who brought back great news from where a dozen others had brought back tales of woe. For as many as understand, so also shall it be good for them. 

Lastly, is humility. Humility conquers all. Humility is actually for those who are really proud of what they have inside, but know that what they don’t know or have, is far more than what they know and have. Humble people don’t wear their wealth on their sleeves. They appreciate the little things of life and are not into comparing their own achievements with others. 


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