On the intellectual clarity of the Nigerian masses

Tabatha Coffey, who is originally from Australia, hosts a US television show on Bravo-an American cable and satellite television network headquartered in New York. She was quoted to have said that “We should all feel confident in our intelligence. By the way, intelligence to me isn’t just being book-smart or having a college degree; it’s trusting your gut instincts, being intuitive, thinking outside the box, and sometimes just realizing that things need to change and being smart enough to change it.”

Still on intelligence, in another quote, Carl Sagan, the famous American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator for astronomy and other natural sciences, was attributed with a quote on the dangers of not thinking clearly. According to Sagan, “The dangers of not thinking clearly are much greater now than ever before. It’s not that there’s something new in our way of thinking – it’s that credulous and confused thinking can be much more lethal in ways it was never before.”

In today’s Nigeria, there is no doubt that the Nigerian masses think differently from the Nigerian elites; and it explains the reason the elites have exploited the masses for their own advantage to dominate them squarely and most promptly. This is the reason that poor peasants in northern Nigeria may think that it is important for them to show absolute solidarity to a rich and retired army general from the north who may obviously not share any common interest with them. The minds of the peasants could even be maneuvered with to the extent that they presume that their solidarity for a rich elite-who has no interest in their wellbeing-is a religious duty that could earn them paradise when they move on to the next life. This is the case when you study the elite-commoner relations across all parts of Nigeria.

In an article entitled “Fuel price hike: The language and grammatical illogic of a regulated deregulation” which was published on May 15, 2016 (see link: <>), Farooq Kperogi, Associate Professor of Journalism and Emerging Media at Kennesaw State University, argued that while Nigerian elites are “incredibly artful masters of hegemonic narrative construction”, everyday Nigerians may be “some of the dumbest, most malleable people on earth.” Kperogi noted that the average intelligence quotient in Nigeria is 67; a figure that other parts of the world consider as mental retardation. Kperogi was vilified across print and online media because of what he wrote, especially by people who believed that there was no scientific basis of his claim. However, to defend Kperogi, others likened his deployment of mental retardation as a mere figure of speech in which his claims should be merely symbolic and must not be literally applicable.


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Well, if you care to do your research appropriately, you will realize that there is a correlation that exists between intelligence and social/economic class from a scientific perspective even with a case study from Nigeria. As far back as 1975 for instance, there was a scientific study by one M.D. Janes (Journal of Tropical Pediatrics and Environmental Child Health, vol. 21, no. 1 B, pp. 26-30) from the Institute of Child Health at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, that linked intelligence of Nigerian children to the social/economic statuses of their parents.

Two groups of Nigerian children from the highest and lowest socio-economic backgrounds in Ibadan were studied, and results showed that the poor children had good potential for intelligence initially; which were very similar to that of the elite children. But, at least before attaining 10 years, there was an early decline of the poorer group of children across all aspects of their intelligence; with no sign of them catching up on the elite children. By the time the children of the poorer group and the elite attain physical and psychological maturity in adulthood, they will have completely different worldviews.

In that study, it was concluded that to have a well-thinking Nigerian society, a lot of investment must be made in all aspects of improving, first and foremost, the environmental conditions of the masses so that they will not only be able to think clearly, but they should also compete favorably with the elite children in taking advantage of the educational opportunities that may be available to them.

It is this intellectual weakness of the Nigerian masses that the elites constantly exploit to their advantage. The elites make sure that they do not provide healthy living conditions that will allow the masses to have the intellectual clarity that enables them to ask the right questions during electioneering campaigns. For example, the right questions that the electorate should ask aspiring leaders are those that border on ideas that would build nations rather than ones that promote parochial interests and unhealthy politics of identity. That said, it is highly likely that the Nigerian elites will continue to use the advantage of intellect to keep on suppressing the thinking processes of the Nigerian commoners for a continuous total domination and oppression.

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