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Opportunity Hub with Bola Lawal: 4 Key Things Nigerians Need to Unlearn in Order to Be Successful

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During one of my usual social media “excursions” I came across a post by a friend of mine based in Houston. He was responding to a comment around sending stubborn children back to Nigeria to go learn some “sense”. Sense meaning, being ‘flogged” into shape to learn to respectful and absorb our cultural teachings.

My friend disagreed with this notion however, and exclaimed “I have spent my last 16 years in America unlearning a lot of things” This got me thinking, drawing from my personal experience, there were a lot of things I too had to unlearn and relearn in other to be successful as a student and now a professional.

Thus, I’ve decided to use this instalment of “Opportunity Hub” to discuss key things Nigerian youth need to ‘Unlearn and Relearn’ to be successful in life. I might also add that, out of curiosity, I opened a discussion on this topic on my Facebook page, and it was a fascinating experience.

School curriculum in Nigeria, if we can still call it that, is a major impediment to growth and success of our youths, who are still being taught with materials adopted decades ago. For example, ‘copying note’ is a major part of the class grades for secondary school students, or having them “label” insects, while their peers in China are building Mobile phone prototypes as classwork. Students need to Unlearn cramming just to pass exams; rather, they should study to acquire knowledge. Particularly, knowledge that fuels critical thinking which enables them to apply common sense and a sense of taking initiatives in real life situations.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people” And this is very true for us in Africa, particularly a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria. The nucleus of our people’s way of life stems from teachings from culture and to an extent, family tradition. While this is a gift, it is also a curse. “Age doesn’t beget respect, but respect is earned. I guess it’s a societal thing, but we need to stop worshipping people who belong in the gutter simply because they are older. Age can be swapped for money too”

Whether it’s our “hero” worship of elders, limitations imposed/implied by or seeing marriage as an achieve, we need to re-orient our youths to aspire and dream to achieve goals based on their personal desire and not what is expected from them.

Nobody owes you sh*t! Please excuse my French, but that’s exactly how it was relayed to me and I agree. Nobody owes you anything, not your parents, the government, your rich friends or relative. No one owes you jack, and you need to learn to rely on you, and only you; your actions or inactions determines your level of success. I get that certain factors could hinder success in Nigeria, but it starts with you.

Erase thoughts like, “my parents are supposed to send me to school, the government is supposed to give me a job” from your reasoning, and instead, keep asking yourself what you can do to improve things daily.

Role Models
Who your role models? Your success in life should not be tied to the gift of artistic talent (which most people are not blessed with) or just being in the right place at the right time. Look for role models who have scrapped and hustled their way to success! Particularly in your filed, so for example, if you want to be a successful tech entrepreneur, you need to look at founders of successful startups like Iroko,, Okadabooks, Flutterwave and so on.

The following a straightforward thing to unlearn/relearn o have the right mindset to succeed in whatever endeavour you choose:

1. A hustle is not a business. You need to learn to take the hustle further, and develop the right principles and structures.
2. Realise that every overnight success is at least 10 years in the making; but you don’t get to see the process, only the finished product.
3. Passivity and other psychological limitations must be deleted permanently.
4. Focus on tooling/legacy/certification, rather than solving problems.
5. Relearn internalisation of doubt and curiosity, and form a habit of questioning everything… including authority and its doctrines.

Bola Lawal is a Social Entrepreneur and cofounder/CEO of (@scholarx Instagram), a social impact startup that developed a mobile and web platform that helps African youths access quality education through scholarships, tuition crowdfunding and training/workshops. Prior to ScholarX, he worked as a Business Consultant with companies such as ConocoPhillips, Accenture and Shell He’s recently been featured as a Speaker at conferences in the US, Africa and Europe, and across multiple local and foreign media platforms. Bola graduated from University of Houston with a degree in accounting where he was the Chapter president of Beta Alpha Psi