The Measure of Intelligence, Redeeming Nigeria from Moral Precipice and the place of Public Policy

Intelligence is often measured by way of standardized IQ tests which in a sense, is parochial. I bring up this argument in my recently published book, The Code: A Simple Story about Raising Great Women. And while I broach the subject of how we measure intelligence from a broader perspective; as a means truly understanding the strengths of our girl-children in order to harness it, my underlying premise aligns with the popular quote, often attributed to Albert Einstein which says:

‘Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’

How true! In my book, I devote a chapter to the eight original intelligences as described by Harvard professor, Howard Gardener in his book, Frames of Mind, adapting them to parenting; how moms and dads share the responsibility of understanding which of the eight their children have high quotients in, as means of helping these kids develop until they reach some sort of genius.

The eight intelligences, more popularly referred to as the Theory of Multiple Intelligence include;
· Linguistic intelligence (word smartness)

· Logical-mathematical intelligence (number/reasoning smartness)

· Spatial intelligence (picture smartness)

· Bodily-Kinaesthetic intelligence (body smartness)

· Musical intelligence (music smartness)

· Interpersonal intelligence (people smartness)

· Intrapersonal intelligence (self-smartness)

· Naturalist intelligence (nature smartness)

If you look very closely at the quick definitions I put in parenthesis beside the eight intelligences, you may agree with me as to the veracity of my argument. Simply put, people are smart differently and standardizing the measure of intelligence in for of IQ tests is nothing short of an anomaly. We just aren’t smart the same way. Some people are word smart and others are music smart. Even music maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti alluded in part to this phenomenon when he said;

‘Book sense different from belle sense’

That said, I have been studying a rare form of intelligence, called Moral Intelligence; a smartness of right from wrong. And while this article makes no judgement as to political views or religious leanings, a recent piece of legislation regarding granting amnesty to economic saboteurs in Nigeria perturbed me into writing this piece and raises the question as to whether there are morally intelligent people in the country’s political leadership.

As with all intelligences, I hypothesize that moral intelligence is both inborn and can be honed. And that in creating a society that is morally intelligent, the government, by way of its education and national orientation policies can emphasize moral instruction as a means of improving the overall moral intelligence average of the country.
Without doubt, some people are morally smarter, without the input of any religious or moral instruction while others aren’t. We have all come across the truthful hedonist or the degenerate religious leader who fails to practice what he preaches. The multi-dimenionslism of human beings speak to one thing: People can in character lead double live based on their moral smartness. And so policy makers, in public and private sectors, have the onus of looking for ways of measuring and funneling  the moral intelligent  into leadership…by way of robust human capital development policy.


The Ethics of Exposure

To Expose or Not To Expose

Exposure—the acquisition of new knowledge through study, emulation or experimentation—as it applies to an individual in any position whether as a ward or parent; employee or employer; citizen or leaders, carries within it the capacity for great good and great evil.

The dilemma of how much exposure a person should have before it becomes injurious to the family, company or society at large; or the influences to which one should expose oneself to, per time, in a bid to create or enhance value can create outcomes, often unintended.

The stakes can be very high for the owners of the process, the ‘exposers’—parents, employers and political leaders—in a sense that the ‘exposed’—wards, employees and followers, if exposed to a certain degree may eventually take action that counteracts the initial purpose for exposing them in the first place.

In the work place for instance, human resource managers affirm that while a certain proportion of employees who received poor training leave their position in the first year, a sizeable chunk also leave based on being trained well enough to angle for greener pastures; companies willing to pay more for the skills acquired based on the training investments of the companies where they currently work. An ethical dilemma therefore subsists as to whether to train staff adequately despite the possibility of high staff attrition or not, given the grave economic implications on either side of the divide.

The Good…

In Nollywood (Nigeria’s film industry), we have seen steady developments particularly in business structure with the attendant rise in collaborative effort and commercial value. The single largest factor for this has been the improvement of human capital arising out of exposure.

The recent success of romantic comedy drama, The Wedding Party raking in about N450 million (as at the time of this writing) from cinema showings attest to how the level of exposure has significantly impacted Nigerian film.

From the casting of A-list actors (some foreign trained) to a BAFTA award winning cinematographer, Yinka Edward as well as the eclectic business collaboration (of Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife TV, Moses Babatope’s FilmOne Distribution, Inkblot Productions and Koga Studios) to form the Elfike Film Collective, The Wedding Party mined more value while staving off threats from piracy than any other indigenous movie in Nigerian History.

All of this coupled with the fact that more Nigerian movies are getting screened at International Film Festivals; a record seven of them at the last Toronto Film Festival, it is undoubted that continuing exposure to how the film business is run in more advanced climes have played a good part in this progress.

The Bad and the Ugly

But the good aside, and from a purely cultural view, exposure has shown its evil and ugly faces too. Taking the administration of terror into cognizance, Boko Haram, now acclaimed to be the world’s deadliest terror group didn’t get there by accident. Funding for this organization has been linked to the use of cryptocurrencies and the darknet.

The technological skills demonstrated by the group in the use of digital virtual currencies dislocate our traditional view of them from merely being a ragtag band of Kalashnikov-flaunting men fighting western education to a well-structured organization, up to speed with threat finance and exposed to ways of increasing opaqueness, transactional velocity and its overall efficiency with respect to funding its activities. Overseas, the trend has necessitated improvements in the area of surveillance and scrutiny but to this day, financing of the group has remained shroud in secrecy.

The Nigerian response;

On 18 January 2017, the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation department, CBN, Mr. Kelvin Amugo announced the ban on usage of Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Onecoin, Monero, Ripples and similar products as legal tenders in Nigeria.

Whether this is a step effective enough remains dodgy given that there aren’t similar prohibitions in Chad, Cameroon and Niger where Boko Haram also operate.

5 Shades of Exposures

Reshaping Culture: Exposure helps to overcome cultural stereotypes in the areas of product development and market acceptance. The Iwakura Mission, a Japanese diplomatic voyage to the United Kingdom and United States made by leading technocrats and researchers in the early 1870s is the most known and probably the most impactful voyage as regards the modernization of Japan. The mission had three mandates: to seek recognition for their reinstated Emperor Meiji; to renegotiate lopsided treaties between the West and Japan; and to make a detailed study of modern industrial, political, military and educational systems and structures in the United States and Europe.

Of these goals, the mission’s aim of revision of the lopsided treaties was not achieved. The attempts to negotiate new treaties under better conditions with the foreign governments led to widespread criticism of the mission that members had overstepped their mandate from the Japanese government. Members of the mission were nonetheless inspired by industrial modernization seen in America and Europe and the experience of the delegation provided them a strong basis to lead similar modernization upon their return. The mission emphasized the backwardness of Japan, and its need to learn from the West through scholar exchange arrangements. And by 1874, Yokohama, a port town established in1959 has become a hub for foreign influence. The Iwakura Mission’s work also laid the basis for the establishment of the Imperial College of Engineering (which later became a part of the University of Tokyo) and rehabilitation of the samurai (who had been disbanded in 1871) allowing them to make a shift from their tradition militia heritage into engineering roles as the society changed at the time.

Capacity Building: Exposure equips for better output. And as competencies are developed as a result of it, exposure lowers the bar for investment to flow in. Today, if Nestle Nigeria required 10,000 metric tonnes of soya beans for instance, it would most likely import from somewhere in South America, even though that volume of soya beans could be sourced and aggregated locally. In East Africa and for a similar tonnage of commodities like coffee or tea, Nestle would simply enter into forward contracts and have its requirements met at an agreed date. How? Through Commodities Exchanges in Ethiopia and Rwanda. It is not a surprise that both countries have developed very sophisticated commodities exchanges. Eleni Gabre-Madin founder and former CEO of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange was a World Bank economist who saw a gap in how her country responded to fluctuations in the agricultural commodities market as well as the inefficiencies of small holder farming. She decided to pursue a PhD at Stanford specialised on commodity markets and this exposure paid off in what we know today as the most sophisticated commodities exchange in Africa. Following on Gabre-Madin’s heels was Rwanda’s East Africa Exchange run by Africa Exchange Holdings, a company co-founded by investors including the Nigerian Heirs Holdings and New York-based Berggruen Holdings, whose aim is to develop a network of commodity exchanges across Africa. Gabre-Madin too has such ambitions too. She plans to have set up 10 exchanges across Africa by 2020. And with her current achievements, her company, Eleni LLC has received seed capital of $5m from Morgan Stanley, the International Finance Corporation, and 8 Miles, Bob Geldof’s pan-African private equity fund.


Universal and Neutral Application: Exposure has a universality and neutrality of application whether for parents in raising children or in training business teams for a specific outcome. Though the 10,000 hour rule previously popularized by writer, Malcolm Gladwell has not proven to be completely correct, its import however is strengthened by how humans tend to copy or repeat what they learn from others or are exposed to, particularly when certain desirable outcome are sought.

Tiger Woods was exposed to playing golf at 18 months old; Serena Williams was introduced to tennis by her tennis-coach dad at only three; Bill Gates began programming at age 13, all of them raising the question as to how early should a child be exposed to the skills that could stand them out later in life when juxtaposed with Michael Jackson, who at 6 began his career but suffered many psychological problem into adulthood as a result of his rather early exposure to the music business.

In a 2002 interview with Gold Magazine, Jackson spoke of his problems alluding them to exposure. He said;

When I was little I grew up in an adult world. I grew up on stage. I grew up in night clubs. When I was seven, eight years old I was in nightclubs. I saw striptease girls take off all their clothes. I saw fights break out. I saw people throw up on each other. I saw adults act like pigs. That’s why to this day I hate clubs. I don’t like going to clubs – I did that already, I’ve been there. That’s why I compensate now for what I didn’t do then. So when you come to my house, you’ll see I have rides, I have a movie theatre, I have animals. I love animals – elephants and giraffes and lions and tigers and bears, all kinds of snakes. I get to do all those wonderful things that I didn’t get to do when I was little, because we didn’t have those things. We didn’t have Christmas. We didn’t have sleepovers. We didn’t have school, we had private school when we were touring. I didn’t go to a state school. We tried it for two weeks and it didn’t work. It was very difficult. It’s hard growing up a celebrity child. Very few make that transition from child star to adult star. It’s very difficult. I relate to Shirley Temple. I met her in San Francisco and I sat at her table and I cried so bad. She said, ‘What’s wrong Michael?’ I said, ‘I love you. I need to be around you more.’ She goes, ‘You’re one of us, aren’t you?’ and I said ‘Yes, I am.’ Somebody else said, ‘What do you mean?’ and she said, ‘Michael knows what I mean.’ And I know exactly what she meant – to have been there as a child star and to have graduated to have succeeded in making that transition to fame as an adult is very difficult. When you’re a child star people don’t want you to grow up. They want you to stay little forever. They don’t want you to work afterwards. It’s very hard.”

Michael’s story supports the notion that Exposure is neither good nor bad by itself. It suffices to say that because of its neutrality deciding what to expose a subject to, while being underpinned by the desire to reach a certain goal or set of goals, whether at home or at the office, the inherent costs must be taken into account.


Fosters Idea Cross Pollination: Exposure is the hotbed for a cross pollination of ideas and can provide the environment for collaboration. Again, looking at Michael Jackson and his relationship with Quincy Jones that brought them awards in their respective careers for hits like Billie Jean, Beat It, We Are the World, Man in the Mirror and Rock with Me as well as The Wedding Party collaboration that produced the most successful film in Nigeria to date last year, one can safely arrive at the conclusion that exposure leading to a cross pollination of ideas led to the successes of these collaborative efforts among other factors.

Urban planners use Exposure too to cross pollinate people of different income strata in order to combat the prevalence of neighbourhoods with concentrated poverty and residential segregation. Using mixed housing developments as a strategy for poverty alleviation, governments are able to influence the individual’s life outcomes through four mechanisms; social interaction between high income and low income residents, role-modelling by higher income residents, social control with high income residents acting as watchdogs as to how the neighbourhood is run and finally, the political clout of the neighbourhood as high income residents will be able to attract better social amenities to the neighbourhood than if the residents were just low income earners.

Improves Decision Making: Exposure improves the quality of decisions made. The underlying assumption is that with more information, we do better as human beings because our choices are expanded from which to make decisions. HR managers implementing a competency framework in a bid to improve the company’s performance by applying human resource more efficiently understand that incorporating learning and development through knowledge sharing, mentoring and paid training systems so that teams feel adequately equipped in decision making is vital.

But not all exposure enhances decision making which is why exposure must as a matter of relevance be underpinned to a goal or set of goals.

In my book, The Code: A Simple Story About Raising Great Women, I present Exposure in a light that parents can use to help their daughters grow up confident and achieve all they dream to become. Engaging our children using this principle must however be underpinned by what we identify as their strengths and not by what our vocational preferences for them are. It should not surprise you that though tennis great Andre Agassi won several titles during his career—largely due to his early exposure to the game by his father, Emmanuel—Agassi hated tennis even though the sport brought him prominence and wealth.

In the foregoing, Exposure is neither right nor wrong. But it certainly always leaves us with many open-ended questions; one of which is: Do I or do I not expose…?



Change Your Social Orbit

Your social orbit says a lot about where you are headed in life. ‘Show me your friend and I will tell you who you are,’ goes the saying about how associations underpin identity. 

I heard a story this morning that drove home the need to constantly upgrade quality of people we associate with. 

Pa Joseph Kennedy, a leader in the Irish American community of his day, one-time US Ambassador to Great Britain and father to three of America’s iconic political leaders, John Fitzgerald, Robert Francis and Edward Moore was in the habit of hosting world leaders at his home and allowing his children-from a very young age-interact with these highly influential people. And though it may seem that the Kennedys were  the most influential political family of their time, it didn’t happen by accident. 

Think about it, the three Kennedy boys help offices between themselves as House Representative, Senator, US Attorney General and the President of the United States of America. Pa Kennedy’s diligence at managing the social orbit of his children played a huge role in the maverick political contributions of his sons to the free world; from putting a man on the moon to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that enabled black Americans the right to vote.

If for the Kennedys managing their social orbit was the secret, it can be yours too. Forget about the past and live like you have a bright future ahead of you, because you do.  And the best way to live your life with zest and power is to associate with people of zest and power. 

You are in the wrong company of friends if you are the smartest, wealthiest or most influential. The way upwards is to band with people that stretch you; who in some way, can teach you to do better. 

Friend, if your identity is tied to your social orbit and you are now seeking to reinvent yourself, your business or career, then it begs to say that only one thing is needful:

Change your social orbit

The Four Classes of Assets

If you’ve ever read a Robert T. Kiyosaki book, you’d have found that he pretty much shares the acquisition of assets rather than liabilities as the secret to financial freedom.

Assets, in a nut shell, are things that cause money to flow into your bank account. Your trading business, intellectual properties or treasury bill investments are assets because they earn you more money.

Liabilities, on the other hand, are things that cause money to flow away from your bank account. Expenses like rent, cutting your hair or monthly groceries are liabilities.

Financial freedom is therefore having more assets than liabilities without having to put in any extra effort.

Today, I broach the four classes of assets that can help become financially free.

1. Businesses: Facebook, Amazon, Google and Uber were businesses started by young people that eventually made their founders financially free. Starting the right business could do the same for you.

2. Investments: Stocks and bonds offer an avenue to compound returns and become financially free. If you have ever come across Tony Robbins’ story about a man named, Theodore Johnson, it is easy to grasp this idea. Mr. Johnson worked as a driver at UPS on a salary of $14,000 a year, yet when he retired, he was worth nearly $70 million. How? Compounding interest. According to the story, Mr. Johnson through the help of a friend began to apply a 20 percent tax on his income and then use it to buy inveatments. This worked for him and it can for you.

3. Real Estate: A long as there are people on earth. They are going to need affordable accomodation. Owning commercial property simply means that you get to earn an income when you let it out to renters. 

4. Commodities: Commodities in today’s world are a store of intrinsic value. You can look at my post where I disntiguish between money and currency. Gold, silver, oil, soy bean and so on, are in great need in their raw or semi-processed states due to their industrial use. As long as companies need these commodities, there’ll always be a market.

Using any or more of these asset vehicles can take you to financial freedom. You just have to make up your mind to start small.


Stories of My Fatherland: The Chronicles of Chief Justice Adetokunbo Ademola


Courtesy of

If you have ever been to Victoria Island in Lagos, or to Wuse in Abuja, it is almost certain that you would have lavishly found some many semblances between both locations in their respective cities. Dotted by prime housing, banks, eateries and shopping malls, Victoria Island and Wuse share deeper commonality- major roads named after one Adetokunbo Ademola.

As a matter of fact, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola was Nigeria’s first indigeous Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Born in Abeokuta on February 1, 1906 to the prominent Oba Ladapo Ademola II, the Alake of Egbaland, Adetokunbo was tutored at St. Gregory’s College, Obalende and King’s College, Lagos. Having rebelled against his father’s wishes of becoming a medical doctor, he went on to study law at the University of Cambridge from 1928 to 1931 and was called to bar at Middle Temple in London in 1934 – the first African ever to achieve such a feat at the Bencher’s Inn.

Young Prince Ademola returned to Nigeria in 1934 to pursue a career in law working first as a crown counsel at the Attorney General’s Office and later, as an assistant secretary in the southern secretariat in Enugu, Eastern Nigeria.

Adetokunbo Ademola practised law from 1936 till 1939 when he was called to the bench as a Magistrate of the protectorate court. In 1949, He became the third Nigerian ever to be appointed a Puisne Judge. Upon the granting of autonomy to Western Nigeria; Sir Adetokunbo Ademola became the first Chief Justice of Western Nigeria in 1955 thus becoming the first indigene to head a judiciary in pre-independence Nigeria.

With the imminence of an Independent Nigeria, Sir Ademola was again appointed the first Chief Justice of the Federation in 1958. He was knighted by the Queen of England in 1957 and conferred with the national honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger in 1958.

Worthy of note was Sir Ademola’s extremely influential role in keeping Nigeria from disintegration at the coups of 1966. After the counter-coup that ousted Aguiyi Ironsi, an Igbo Military Head of State, Gowon and his colleagues had thought to secede from Nigeria on the grounds that “the basis for Nigerian unity was not there.” What had not been told was that Ademola and the British High Commissioner had saved Gowon and Nigeria from the mistake of balkanisation by meeting with the northern leaders and successfully arguing that since the Northeners had taken political control and were now in government; they had no reason to leave Nigeria; the result being that the northerners stayed in Nigeria.

Chief Justice Adetokunbo Ademola served on several advisory boards and international committees including the United Nations International Public Service Advisory Board, the International Commission of Jurist and the International Olympic Committee among others. A Hall at the Nigerian Law School was also named in his honour. 

Sir Adetokunbo Ademola died on 29 January 1993 aged 86.

So when next you drive on a major road named after Sir Adetokunbo Ademola,  I guess it might make more meaning to you that there once lived a Nigerian who believed and laboured for a Nigerian unity that should even mean more to us today.

Stories of My Fatherland: A Thing or Two About Lagos Once Upon A Time


Did you know that Lagos was at one time a colony of the Benin Kingdom ruled by Edo viceroys?  Conquered by Oba Orhogbua, son of Oba Esigie sometime in the sixteenth century, Lagos was originally called “Eko” by the Binis meaning, war camp. History has it that the Bini Invasion of Dahomey and modern-day Togo (in today’s Benin Republic) were largely planned and executed from Eko.

Oba Orhogbua understood the importance of controlling the coastline from Lagos all the way to Accra, having undergone training at a naval school in Portugal. Albeit, his primal motivations were continuing with his father’s (Oba Esigie) kingdom expansion plans while maintaining a grip on their very viable trade in slaves, oil palm and gun powder.

Oba Orhogbua commenced his campaign sometime around 1582; laying siege and taking Lagos. He however returned home almost immediately due to a falsely rumoured mutiny back in Benin, sending his grandson, Prince Esikpa, the first Eleko of Eko to administer the colony.

Beginning with Esikpa, bodies of the first few Elekos were returned to Benin for burial as were the Chiefs of Badagry.

Shortly after the amalgamation of Nigeria, an Eleko crisis erupted in Lagos with the indigenes demanding a restoration of their traditional monarchy prior to Bini annexation. In response, Oba Eweka II sent Iyase Obaseki and Obazuaye in 1915 to mediate between the Eleko and the indigenes, and to explain that there was a direct blood link between the royal families of Lagos and Benin.

Till date, both royal families of Lagos and Benin relate very closely. The performances of rites such as the coronation of new Obas in Lagos are not without the consultation the Benin establishment. And until about 200 years ago, the Binis actually determined who was installed as Oba in Lagos. History also has it that the heads of dead Obas of Lagos were taken to Benin for proper burial as far back as the 1750s.

Eko was later named Lagos being a derivative of the original Lago di Kuramo given by Portuguese explorers in the seventh century.

Places like Iga-Idugaran(which translates to mean , pepper farm in Bini Language) where the palace of the Oba of Lagos is situated; Idumota, Idumagbo and Eleko Beach in Badagry  all point to a time once, when Lagos was  vassal to Benin.

Albeit, once upon a time.