The paradox of change and the Nigerian contradiction

Posted: August 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

By Prince Charles Dickson

Politicians should serve actually two terms, one in office, the other in jail—Anonymous

As a Psychologist by academic qualification, we say that that the way you feel affects the way you interpret the world. This statement I am of the factual opinion affects Nigerians.

For instance, if the words rake, take, and cake blinked on a computer screen for 1/30 of a second, which would you recognize?

If you’re hungry, research suggests that all you see is cake. Add corruption to that same list, and as a Nigerian, that word may attract more attention to you.

As Nigerians we like to think that we’re totally logical when we make decisions. However the sad reality is that we are not. Truth is that over the past few decades, social science has uncovered a staggering number of cognitive biases that shape our behavior — whether we know it or not.


Nigerians are masters of these cognitive biases, so our lives as a people is a paradox; for example Fashola, ex-governor of Lagos state was seen as the epitome of performance but in one stretch he has been accused lately of many acts of “corruption”.

Let me not go to Wike and Amaechi, both of Rivers state, the paradox of both men depends of ones state of mind, the question, are they not “crooks”, is answered depending on which side you are.

Let me help us understand, it is said that to go anywhere, you must go halfway first, and then you must go half of the remaining distance, and half of the remaining distance, and so forth to infinity: Thus, motion is impossible.

The dichotomy paradox has been attributed to ancient Greek philosopher Zeno, and it was supposedly created as a proof that the universe is singular and that change, including motion, is impossible (as posited by Zeno’s teacher, Parmenides).

While people have intuitively rejected this paradox for years. It reminds me of a recent statement credited to Mr. Buhari. “People accuse me of, becoming President with stolen funds. That Amaechi and others sponsored me with stolen funds from Rivers State treasury. In all honesty, I cannot deny that. I knew they were thieves, and the last administration couldn’t prosecute them. But because Nigerians believe I can prosecute them… was the reason I accepted to be sponsored by them; howbeit with stolen funds. If I had refused to be sponsored by them, Nigerians wouldn’t have a President that can save them from corrupt leaders. I accepted, because of Nigerians, and I will not spare any one sponsor”. One huge paradox!

So the Nigerian motion, from a mathematical perspective, the solution — formalized in the 19th century — is to accept that one-half plus one-quarter plus one-eighth plus one-sixteenth and so on … adds up to one. This is a similar situation to saying that 0.999… equals 1. It simply means that there is nothing necessarily different from either Dasuki, or Daura, nothing different from the “uncommon wayo” of ex-governor Akpabio in Akwa Ibom state and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano state who took “common” steps to stop EFCC from arresting him. Nor is Simon Bako Lalong, any different from Jonah David Jang, and Joshua Chibi Dariye…because if you looked deep enough you would see John, Jonah, David, Simon and Joshua all like bandits in abuse of the law…

But this theoretical solution doesn’t actually answer how an object can reach its destination. The solution to that question is more complex and still murky, relying on 20th-century theories about matter, time, and space not being infinitely divisible.

So whether Nigeria has been transformed or is changing, it is still largely a paradox. For example the Naira falls to the Dollar, the Central Bank governor should be sacked, and if the reverse happens, Mr. Buhari is praised.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party PDP cannot see anything good about the All Progressive Congress, APC, and the APC continues to hit hard on the PDP, two schools and a paradox, the Jonathanians, persecuted, the “Sai Babaist” believing we are on a mission to restore Nigeria.

I will give us another paradox, if you restored a ship by replacing each of its wooden parts, would it remain the same ship?

It’s a classic from ancient Greece; the Ship of Theseus paradox gets at the contradictions of identity. Plutarch famously described it.

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

So for Nigerians, we need to ask what are the common problems we need to see; ethnic colors or unity, change or transformation, North or South or Nigeria. What part of the ship is new or is change, or is it “same difference”.

I would end with the paradox of numbers; we say there is something interesting about every number.

After all, 1 is the first nonzero natural number; 2 is the smallest prime number; 3 is the first odd prime number; 4 is the smallest composite number; etc. And when you finally reach a number that seems not to have anything interesting about it, then that number is interesting by virtue of being the first number that is not interesting.

The Interesting Number Paradox relies on an imprecise definition of “interesting,” making this a somewhat sillier version of some of the other paradoxes.

So, it’s interesting that when Buhari comes to power it is the Muslim North; Jonathan was the Christian South, when Badeh and crew were service chiefs they did not sing “no equipment” or “resign” but now they are talking.

It is a paradox that ex-NSA chief Sambo did not show us pictures of arms bought, but now we see it everywhere; it is now we are talking agriculture because “oyel” money don dey finish.

So, Tinubu is corrupt, Saraki is a thief and a foreigner, Rotimi betrayed his people, David Mark is hmmmm, Obasanjo suffers “hear me” syndrome, and Abati’s phone is not ringing again—Nigeria, and Nigerians a great contradiction, but for how long—Only time will tell.


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