By EBERE WABARA
LET us begin today with this front page caption solecism from DAILY Sun of March 6, among copious other improprieties that follow: “…at the thanksgiving service to mark Obasanjo’s 80th birthday anniversary in Abeokuta, yesterday.” Voice of The Nation: delete ‘anniversary’ as it is encapsulated in ‘birthday’. An aside: I had always believed that Baba was far more than this ‘official’ age! Congratulations, sir, all the same. In all fairness and with due respect, OBJ should realistically be between 90 and 99 years—a nonagenarian. What do you think?
“ASUP alerts of (to) looming crisis in polytechnics”
“Tinubu, Maryam Abacha to commission (inaugurate) houses, apartments, schools in Borno”
“Ondo Assembly crisis deepens as Akeredolu’s peace meeting deadlocked” ‘Deadlock’ cannot function as a verb. The closest application is the adjectival usage: The peace meeting reached a deadlock.
“…are undergoing various stages of documentation after series (a series) of oral, written and other forms of interviews were conducted.”
“FG can invest N5trn on (in) priority projects”
“NCAA, stakeholders trade blames (blame) over dying local airlines” ‘Blame’ is uncountable.
The next two blunders are from a full-page advertorial by Senator (Dr.) Godswill Akpabio (CON), Senate Minority Leader, as published in DAILY SUN of March 6: “Today, you are a global citizen, loved by millions but envied by few (a few).”
“On behalf of myself, family, the good people of Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District and the entire PDP Caucus of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria….” ‘Myself’ (I) should come last, going by structural order.
“Abuja airport closure: Airlines, stakeholders in last minute (last-minute) rush to beat deadline”
“Can we begin to have confidence on (in) INEC?”
“Some of these areas include producing enough food to feed our teaming (teeming) population.”
“Rather, the money, including the N200 million per state released for special purposes, was diverted to other uses.” We certainly do not need the last three words in the extract, having been taken care of by ‘diversion’.
“Unless the detonating mechanism of extremist religious chauvinism is diffused….” Get it right: defused (not diffused).
“They have decided to sheath their machetes and seek vengeance no more.” Noun: sheath; verb: sheathe.
THISDAY of March 8 requires reformation of four lines: “The sources of revenue in a city like Lagos is very important.” Still on errors of attraction (more below): The sources… are.
“…business downturn resulting to (in) drive-wandering.”
“…the rapaciousness of project contractors increase (increases) the country’s debt burden.”
“Senior civil servants’ union berate junior counterparts” Inside business: union berates.
THE GUARDIAN of March 8 questioned linguistic rules on two occasions: “It’s the poet feared most, knowing fully (full) well that one of the….”
“The agitated crowd, who had been whipped to hysteria, demanded for his head.…” To avoid mayhem, delete ‘for’ from the extract.
”…and which provides a noble and humanistic framework for relations between the state and citizens in (on) our continent.”
“But in the welter of these realignment of forces…” Re-thinking development: this realignment of forces.
VANGUARD of March 8 circulated three goofs: “The fear along the room and corridor (corridors) of power of a sovereign national conference.…”
“It is not in doubt that most of the commuters in the luxurious (luxury) buses that ply.…”
“…Aba traders constitute a large proportion of the passengers on commercial aircrafts (aircraft) that fly….”
“Major reorganization of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), which may lead to mass retirement and sack of its men and officers, now looms.” Get it right: a major reorganization or major reorganizations, as context demands.
“One of the most outrageous abuses occurred.…” Spelling in the lurch: occur, occurrence, occurred.
“I do not buy the argument that the advent of electronic mails and network computers have rendered postal services absolute.” Not yet time for structural proximity: the advent of electronic mails and network computers has (not have).
“In doing this, however, he must be faithful to the mandate of the ECOWAS Heads of Government under whose platform he operates.” Agenda: on (not under) whose platform he operates
“As Nigerian editors converge in (on) Katsina for their 10th Annual Meeting.…”
“A government white paper on the demonstration….” Sheer abuse of words! ‘White paper’ is a report issued by Government to give information. Let’s respect words. After all, reporting is all about telegraphic brevity.
“UNN students union honour vice chancellor” What is happening? Sub-editors of these days show traces of illiteracy! This way: UNN students’ union honours VC
“The fact that some people eat food that does nothing for their physical well-being put them in the class of the poor.” The fact…puts.
“The richer nations who (sic) have more than enough should in this moment of great need and expectation by the poor masses (the masses are basically poor) be their brothers’ keepers.” Standard sociolinguistics: ‘brother’s keeper’—whether one or more.
“Any further discourse on it, some might say, amounts to nothing but over-flogging a dad horse.” You flog, not over-flog, a dead horse, talking idiomatically.
“Like few (a few in this context) years ago, a life cow was allegedly buried….” ‘Life cow’ in place of ‘live cow’ portrays sub-literacy.
“Opponents of private universities claim that they will aggravate the unemployment problem in the country.” ‘Unemployment’ is certainly a problem—so why compound it by adding another ‘problem’?
“Denmark has just played an historic role in….” ‘An historic role’ is the type of expression Ndaeyo Uko calls Elizabethan English! Current syntactic trend: ‘a historic…’
“One of the enduring concerns at the workshop concerned the role and orientation of the military with regards to our democratic aspirations.” Received English: ‘as regards’ or ‘with regard to’
“…the two ethnic rivals are now creating the impression that they are about to re-open (no hyphen) their old wounds and embark on another round of strive (strife).“
“They have in most cases remained willing collaborators in the de-politicization of the political system by acquiescing to virtually all the issues….” Get it right: acquiesce in (not to).
“And the neglect of such costs lead to political and economic imbalance that create disequilibria in the larger society.“ The two verbs in this sentence (‘lead’ and ‘create’) demand singular usage to agree with ‘neglect’ and ‘imbalance.’
“The criteria for the choice of candidates was based on partisan political loyalties and ethnic considerations.” The plural of ‘criterion’ is ‘criteria’.
“NSE parleys foreign stock exchange” ‘Parley’ takes ‘with’, if it must be used in this sense at all.
By the way, is it not amazing that some Nigerian sub-editors do not know what they ‘N’ in ‘NUJ’ represents? It is Nigeria (not Nigerian) Union of Journalists. One keeps coming across the unpardonable error in reputable newspapers and magazines.
“All Nigerian Editors Conference Katsina 2014” Editing editors: All-Nigeria Editors’ Conference Katsina 2014.
Xenophobia and that Reps’ Trip to South Africa
With Oke epia
Telephone (sms only): 07059850016 Email: email@example.com.
n this column last week, I invited Nigeria to look in the mirror and see reasons why South Africa should not be blamed entirely for the recent wave of xenophobic attacks which affected Nigerians in that county. I had argued that to the extent that Nigeria continues to lose citizens’ confidence in government and the concomitant erosion of patriotism and national pride then the country cannot command clout enough to earn Nigerians respect and protection from the vagaries of a hostile global environment. If Nigeria can take her citizens for granted through consistent traces of lack of accountability why won’t the world treat Nigerians like lepers that should not be tolerated abroad? This week, the National Assembly played out a drama that reinforced my submission. Ironically, the plot was on same theme and exposed just about same malaise of official duplicity and failure of government and public institutions that have plagued Nigeria decades after political independence from Britain.
The Senate and House of Representatives openly disagreed on which chamber of the country’s bicameral legislature holds the patent to a questionable (and perhaps needless) parliamentary visit to South Africa to supposedly hold talks with the Parliament of South Africa on how to end xenophobic attacks against Nigerians. The disagreement eventually embarrassed the Senate, which on Wednesday, announced a cancellation of the planned trip. This leaves the lower chamber with a pyrrhic victory in a needless ego contest that should not have arisen in the first place. So while Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila leads the delegation of representatives to Pretoria to ‘probe the immediate and remote causes’ of xenophobia against Nigerians and ‘proffer lasting solutions to the crisis’ it is important to point out some salient issues. But first of all, it is imperative to place some facts on what led to the shameful disagreement between both chambers of the National Assembly on the table.
On Thursday February 23, 2017, the House of Representatives resolved to raise a delegation to join up with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that would visit South Africa to remind her of the “consequences of these ongoing xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and the likely repercussions.” The resolution stated specifically, inter alia: “The House should mandate the Justice Department of the Foreign Affairs Ministry to independently investigate the immediate and emote causes of the attacks so as to arrive at acceptable conclusions. The delegation should assure Nigerian citizens in South Africa that the Nigerian Government is well positioned to aggressively defend the rights of Nigerians overseas, using the complete choice of obtainable means- from political and economic, to operations under international right of self-defence.” Please note that the motion which resulted in the resolution was sponsored by Mrs. Rita Orji, chairperson of the House Committee on Diaspora Affairs and was unanimously supported. Note also that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Relations and Diaspora Affairs, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, was the chairperson of the House Diaspora Committee in the immediate past 7th assembly. Further note that the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is chaired by a ranking member, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, who held that post in the preceding assembly. I will come back to these notes shortly after laying the sequence for the avoidable rift between Senate and the House.
Days after the lower chamber took the decision to send a delegation to South Africa, the Senate debated a motion on the ‘resurgence of xenophobic attacks and extra-judicial killings of Nigerians in South’ and arrived at exactly the same conclusion. It is noteworthy that the Senate resolution was without reference to a similar decision made by the other chamber just the previous legislative day. The motion which was sponsored by Rose Oko, the Senate Committee chairperson on Diaspora Affairs, had originally prayed the chamber to adopt a radicalist stand of urging Nigeria to reconsider diplomatic relations with South Africa given the recurrence of the attacks over the years. Two days later, the upper chamber announced a delegation for its proposed visit to be led by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and comprised of Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan; the Chief Whip, Senator Sola Adeyeye; Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Shehu Sani; Senator Stella Oduah; Senator Magnus Abe; and Senator Shaba Lafiaji.
In an immediate reaction to that move by the Senate, the House fired back and named its own delegation in a manner that climaxed an embarrassing lack of synergy with respect to legislative response to the xenophobic attacks which had naturally elicited nationwide outrage. Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Mr. Gbajabiamila, who is the leader of the House, insisted that the lower chamber would still embark on the visit to South Africa regardless of the position of the Senate. He then proceeded to give a lengthy explanation to justify the trip. Hear him: “We are looking at genuine engagement by these two parliaments of the leading countries in South Africa. We will attempt to meet with the South African parliament to discuss the possibility of both our countries enacting hate crime laws. This would cover crimes committed based on nationality. We intend to engage the South African parliament and other authorities on areas of mutual benefits and how much both countries could lose from xenophobia and possible retaliatory actions or severing of diplomatic ties. This delegation will seek to strengthen the Nigerian /South African Bilateral Commission, which only exists on paper for now. We hope to meet with Nigerians who reside in South Africa and assure them of government’s intervention. We will advance and hopefully get a commitment on the need for the payment of compensation for the victims of this last attack.”
It was based on this that the Senate lost interest in the embarrassing plot and announced a cancellation of the proposed trip on Wednesday. In making the position of the upper chamber known on the matter, Ekweremadu, who presided at plenary said: “On our trip to South Africa, we noted that the House of Representatives insists on going to South Africa independently. We thought we could lead a single and harmonized delegation of the National Assembly to avoid the embarrassment of multiple delegations. The Senate, therefore, decided to pull out to allow the House delegation to proceed.” The Senate may have drawn a late applause from some observers on the needless tango between it and the Reps but what is not lost on the discerning general public is the exposition of the failure of inter-chamber cooperation on the matter. The way and manner both chambers went about the affair tended to suggest that Nigeria’s lawmakers were under some other form of motivation to visit South Africa than the altruistic reasons openly advanced in this case. And this counts as yet another incentive for many Nigerians to continue to hold the view that members of the National Assembly tend to put their interests first before that of the nation. This altercation certainly counts as example to justify the argument in some quarters that Nigeria can do with a unicameral legislature that is less costly and more effective for governance. But whether Nigeria needs a bicameral or unicameral legislature is a debate for another day. What is however evident from this episode is that the National Assembly has not scored optimal points in performing oversight in the area of foreign relations and Diaspora affairs. What has the National Assembly done about the issue of xenophobia before now? How well have the lawmakers kept tab with relevant departments in the Executive branch and held them to account to address past incidences and ensure proactive measures to prevent or deter recurrence? This question is imperative given that the incidence of xenophobia in South Africa has been a recurring decimal as Nigerians resident in that country have fallen victims of sporadic attacks severally for about a decade.
––Epia, Publisher of OrderPaper.ng is on Twitter @resourceme.
Pics: National assembly.jpg