Assessing The Intellectual Capacities of Nigerian Leaders

During World War 1, a team of psychologists, according to The Psychological Review, assisted the US army to rapidly assess and assign huge numbers of personnel. They developed a rating scale to classify and place enlisted men according to how they used their intelligence, and The US Army was enthusiastic about Scott’s classification of personnel. By the time the war ended, the psychologists had already been incorporated into

the American military and had classified 3½ million men and assigned 973,858 to technical units.
This berthed psychological testing as group intelligence tests were developed for, and became widely used in primary and secondary schools, universities and industries in America and some parts of Europe. The modern IQ score is a mathematical transformation of a raw score on an IQ test, based on the rank of that score in a normalization sample.

Marilyn vos Savant recently appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records with a ratio IQ of 228. But as recently demonstrated by the legislators-gone-mad incidence recorded on Tuesday, June 22, 2010, Nigerian lawmakers and other political leaders could enter the Guinness Book of World Records with the lowest IQ ratio in recorded history. Before you raise a point of order, let me juxtapose science with empirical evidence.

In 2004, Richard Haier, a professor of psychology at the Department of Pediatrics and colleagues at University of California, Irvine and the University of New Mexico used MRI to obtain structural images of the brain in 47 normal adults who also took standard IQ tests. The study demonstrated that general human intelligence appears to be based on the volume and location of gray matter tissue in the brain, and also demonstrated that, of the brain’s gray matter, only about 6 percent appeared to be related to IQ. While this is inconclusive enough to conclude that Nigerian lawmakers are low on the IQ scale, a 2003 study gives an insight on how to assess their IQ and brain function.

Professor Gray and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show that individuals that were more adept at resisting distraction on a demanding working memory task had both a higher IQ and increased prefrontal activity. How does this indicate that Nigerian lawmakers and perhaps other politicians have decreased prefrontal (the part of the brain that regulates intelligence) activity? Let’s go down memory lane!

Every Nigerian could vividly recollect the Big Brother Africa saga when Nigerian national lawmakers set aside serious legislative matters to ‘regulate’ TV shows. They deliberated for weeks on how to ensure what one of them described thus: “morals are ensured and immorality is deeply frowned at”. They portrayed nudity, abusive words, and sex as issues that Nigerian cable TV subscribers need their legislation to control (how I wish they see the 72-in-1 pornographic DVDs that are now on sale nationwide). The futility of their week-long deliberations was demonstrated by the long queues that were recorded at the various Multichoice outlets across the nation as Nigerians happily, voluntarily, religiously and intentionally trouped out en masse to subscribe for the Big Brother Africa channel. I personally subscribed to DSTV to show that my IQ is not that low. That’s not all.

The protagonist of Sharia governance in Nigeria- Senator Yerima- is yet another indicator to the fact which tells us to forget the big grammar in the chamber, since our law makers are not intellectually sound.

I’m still marveled at the fact that a house that is deliberating on the Child Rights Bill has as a member a grand father who will go home after the day’s deliberations to his new 13-year old Egyptian wife. The muted silence of the Senate indicates that Nigerian Senators are either entirely paedophiles, or see nothing wrong in a man rummaging a 13- year old girl at night. Either way, one fact is connoted by their continual allowance of Yerima in their midst- the average IQ score in the Senate is low.

I know many readers might mention some members of the National Assembly as being intelligent and shouldn’t be labeled with the rest. Science also has an explanation for that. It’s called the mutability of IQ.

Though generally believed to be immutable, recent research suggests that certain mental activities can change the brain’s ability to process information, leading to the conclusion that intelligence can be altered or changed over time. The brain is now properly understood to be neuroplastic and hence far more amenable to change than once was thought. One may begin to inquire what could cause this potentially debilitating mental retardation. Causes include health conditions like protracted illnesses, late Alzheimer’s disease, dementia; environmental conditions like association and interaction; lifestyles like alcoholism and smoking; there are also nutrients and toxins that could invariably interfere with mental activities. What do these have to do with our legislators?

In the first instance most of them are old and were with debilitating conditions before getting elected (or selected), hence they are already predisposed. While in the legislative house, they go home with fat salaries, allowances and loots that usually beg to be spent hence they indulge in reckless lifestyles like alcoholism and smoking. To show that they are rich, most of them purchase processed foods that are well laden with chemicals like lead, mercury, and organochlorides that are lethal to brain functions.

If a lawmaker is able to avoid the above-listed factors, interactions, affiliations, fraternization and associations are IQ- lowering predisposing factors that are unavoidable in the chambers of the Nigerian legislative house(s).

I believe it’s someone, no matter how gentle, that sits beside the bespectacled lawmaker that was pacing up and down chanting ‘we will not take it’ before interrupting a speech being read by another member prior to the fracas.

It’s yet another lawmaker that sits beside the short-man-devil that wore brown attire who was screaming ‘beat him up’ at resounding decibels that makes me wonder if I was watching a WWE production. What about the seat mate of the woman that was being dragged out of the chamber like the lunatic in Oje Market in Ibadan? I won’t call it a national shame, but a momentary season of madness that was precipitated by an unbearable average acutely low IQ. I only pity the seatmates who would have acquired the mutation in brain function.

On the basis of gender, race and group differences, our legislators and psychology have shown in their own ways that there is no difference, as any one could have low IQ score. I believe that researchers like Drs. Lynn, Irwing and Deary would be clicking their wine glasses on Tuesday after watching footage of our legislators’ bouts on Youtube.

While our representatives had misrepresented us with their epic show of national ridicule that coincided with another legendary disgrace in South Africa, it’s however worthy to note that thanks to them, we now have another input into the review of the constitution- introduction of IQ tests for politicians, office seekers and holders and other cadres.

Many use the term IQ to refer to technical or popular knowledge in a variety of subjects not related to intelligence, including sex, poker, and American football, among a wide variety of other topics. While these tests are generally not standardized and do not fit within the normal definition of intelligence, they however indicate that IQ score tests are indispensable ammunition in our arsenal as we attempt to rid Nigeria of its ills.

As we disband the Super Eagles and reform the honourables, it becomes expedient that our psychologists should step in and assess their intellectual capacities in the adjudication of their saddled responsibilities. If we fail to ensure that intellectually capable individuals are at the helms from the presidency to the residency, Super Tuesdays will be frequent chapters in our chronicle of national disgrace.

Adepoju Paul Olusegun: