Point the Finger



THE PUNCH of April 7 welcomes us today: “Sheriff, Wike point fingers at each other” Fixed/standard/stock expression: point the finger

“Amongst (Among) them, a new set of male and female actors are springing up and gradually taking over the scene” ‘Amidst’, ‘amongst’ and ‘whilst’ belong to the old order!

“Besides her personality—Beverly—since her arrival in Nollywood few (a few) years ago, has been cast in lead roles; some cheeky, others sassy.”

“Jibrin apologises (apologizes, preferably) to Buhari for demanding for his resignation” Delete the second ‘for’ because of its redundancy.

“This truth no doubt was expressed in recognition of the role of the press in any society, especially one striving towards (for/after) the attainment of democracy.”

“And as the UN was packing its bags and baggage out of Somalia….”  Standard expression: bag and baggage.

“…the whole nation hailed and applauded both parties in the protracted ASUU crisis for reaching an agreeable truce.”  Gentlemen of the Press, what is the meaning of ‘agreeable truce’? Students used to make newspapers reference materials for English language studies. I doubt if that happens these days, with oddities like ‘agreeable truce’.

“Cake is fattening thereby loosing its attraction to….” Correct spelling can’t lose attraction.

“I and the other Nigerians who had come to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia…”) Grammatical discipline demands that you put self last: The other Nigerians and I….

“Kogi workers asked to sign attendant register” ‘Attendance register’, please.

“…and the partitioning of the country by the clan chiefs and warlords continue.” The partitioning (not the chiefs and warlords) continues.

“Another recipient of the award was one of the directors of RayPower, a private electronic media….” If a non-journalist does not know the differences between ‘media’ and ‘medium’, I could excuse the fellow, but a (supposed) colleague of mine writing ‘a media’ amounts to crass illiteracy.

“They have in most cases remained willing collaborators in the de-politicization of the political system by acquiescing to virtually all the issues….” I cannot acquiesce in the ruination of modern English by some traditionalists.

“It was a most unhurried journey accomplished well over six hours, from 9 a.m. in the morning till about 2.00 p.m. in the afternoon.” One of these days, somebody will scribble ‘I saw the picture with my naked eyes’! Dear reader, you do not need ‘in the morning or afternoon’ after the abbreviation ‘a.m.’ or ‘p.m.’ ‘A.m.’ means ante meridiem (before noon). Similarly, p.m. refers to post meridiem (afternoon).

“The effectiveness of these provisions are hampered by ignorance and poverty.” This smacks of language poverty. Ignorance should not be extended to grammatical concord: “The effectiveness…. Is’.

“Party commends Adeboye over (for/on) position on controversial audio CD”

“Obituary Announcement” There is no need for ‘announcement’ in the extract.

“The condolence register for late (the late)…at her resident (residence) in Lagos”

“Edo Assembly Speaker, leader arrested over (for) attack on colleague”

“Ikpeba wants more critical attention on (to) Eagles’ activities”

“Dangote projects Africa’s potentials (potential/potentialities) with ‘Marketplace Africa’ on CNN”

“…his residence in (on) Victoria island by Standard Chartered Bank is illegal.”

“Firm chief, EFCC bicker over alleged N120m bribery (bribe)”

“Renewed clampdown against (on) rice smuggling”

“…this award appropriately reflects your tireless contributions and selfless service to the upliftment (uplift) of….”

“A giant whose strides creates (sic) paths for others to forge ahead”

“I join all well meaning (well-meaning) Nigerians to specially congratulate you for (on/upon) this well deserved (well-deserved) honour….”

“He deserves national honour, says (sic) Nigerians”

“Like (As) my friend says….”

“Celebrating the girl-child amidst (amid) many challenges”

“NASI flags off (inaugurates) cluster-investment concept for agro processors”

Wrong: “forthnight”, right: fortnight.

“It costs between 300 to 1,000 dollars to eliminate each time.…” Between 300 and 1,000 or from 300 to 1,000….no combination

“The only time I was opportuned (opportune or had an opportunity) to watch the low-keyed event….”

“In this vein, there must be a body regulating employments in these bodies…” ‘Body regulating bodies’ is shallow. ‘Employment’ does not admit any inflection.

“But since then, the existence of the country has received series of threats of disintegration.” This way: a series of. There should be no delusion about the article preceding ‘series’ (a).

“Anambra police revokes gun dealer’s (sic) licenses” Let us rewrite: Anambra police revoke gun dealers’ licences.

“Going by precedence, it means that in about 10 days from today, the minister will be obliged to tell once again how the government performed in the first quarter.” Going by precedent…not precedence (in this instance)….

“He had probably never seen a balance sheet…talkless of balancing budget.” Balance the sentence by replacing ‘talk less’ with ‘not to talk of’ or let alone (‘talk less’, as a phrasal verb, is a good grammar).

“It is common knowledge that there is economic crisis in the country resulting to low capacity….” Correct forms: ‘an economic crisis’ or ‘economic crises’ and of course, ‘result in’ (not ‘to’).

“As earlier mentioned in this piece, lack of funds and machines for exploitation have been the bane of solid minerals production in this country.” Lack of funds has (not have).

“Altogether the CBN has raked in a whooping N85.362 billion.…”  Why the mix-up between ‘whopping’ and whooping’?


THE first two external explications this week are from Mr. BAYO OGUNTUASE (08056180046): The governorship ticket, “on a platter of gold” (on a silver platter), was, therefore, a befitting compensation for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s role in the democracy struggle. (Advertorial, THE NATION, October 10, 2014) Usage note: The idiom known to correct English is “to have something handed to one on a silver platter, which means “to get or be given something (e.g. independence/a job or governorship ticket without having to put any effort into it”.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press or members of the press is preferred to gentlemen of the press. My brother, the spirit of activism goes on. Work hard!

FROM the columnist: In journalism, there are no ladies (gender discrimination) hence the generic term of ‘gentlemen of the Press’, pockets of feministic opposition notwithstanding. This professional jargon may not have grammatical justification, but has stuck! What do you think dear reader? Let the debate continue. And to SUNNY AGBONTAEN (08055162531): Your SMS on ‘air-crash’ and ‘plane-crash’ is immensely appreciated. Send more!

THE next observation is from DONTEXAS EKARIKA, Warri (0807625219): “…the cleric passed on last Wednesday afternoon in Lagos, where he was flown, en route (en route to) Germany for checkup.”

SUNDAY ADESINA (08029955388) dispatched this from Kaduna State: “…urging the electorate to be at alert in all ramification (sic)….” This way: be on the alert in all ramifications,

‘I’ can precede any name in the subjective if culpability is expressed. Sample this: ‘I and my son spat on the old lady.’ Do have a beautiful Saturday. (Intervention by CHARLES IYOHA, Chairman, Academy Ltd., 07033775454)

Jonathan’s Peace Process and Gains of PDP Stakeholders’ Forum

Sufyan Abbas Mohammed


xpectedly, there have been various frenzied reports, and diverse interpretations of the outcome of the Stakeholders Meeting of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which Dr Goodluck Jonathan chaired in his capacity as an ex-President.

Given the enormity of the leadership crisis rocking the PDP and the crucial roles the party is expected to play as the main opposition party, it was not a surprise that the forum would attract excessive national interest.

While many took a positive a view of the outcome, some tagged the disagreement in the course of the meeting as either stalemate, or outright collapse of the peace process that was initiated by the former President.

That notwithstanding, the generous dose of interest from all and sundry was no doubt a demonstration of the fact that the populace routes for a stronger opposition in the PDP, which they consider as a potent factor in the nation’s democratic journey.

Without prejudice to those who are wont to attach only negative indicators to the result of the stakeholders Forum, it would appear that many PDP members were pleased with the meeting and its outcome.

Many party sympathisers argue that those who hold the view that progress was not recorded fail to recognize the impact the meeting has had on the confidence level of party members, especially in giving them hope that the PDP is still intact. For them, it is a good development for a party that has not been able to regain its rhythm since the shocking experience of losing election at the centre for the first time, after 16 years in power.

The odds were indeed overwhelming and heavily stacked up against the party. An initial post 2015 election numbness, a vicious anti-corruption fight that targeted mainly its chieftains, and an unrelenting leadership crisis were the factors that conspired to either confine the PDP bigwigs to the shadows or chase key members of the party into their rat holes.

The emergence of Jonathan, the foremost leader of the party, from his two-year political hibernation to intervene in the crisis was indeed a breath of fresh air for the party’s true members who have refused to decamp but had remained marooned in the wilderness since 2015.

The fact that all the key members of the party were in attendance from all parts of the country, despite the grueling travel difficulties arising from the closure of Abuja Airport, did not only project Jonathan’s tremendous goodwill, but also amplified the confidence in his peace efforts.

In the estimation of many, there is no downplaying the advantage the well-attended meeting has conferred on the party and the ongoing peace process.

According to one of the chieftains of the party, nobody expected that such a broad-based stakeholders meeting would be a walk in the park, nor was there the anticipation that an inaugural combined peace meeting of a crisis-prone political party as big as the PDP, would produce instant miracles.

Such people are therefore enthused that besides the hope-rising import of the gathering, the aim of the meeting to establish a road map for peace was achieved with the 40-man all inclusive committee to be directly Chaired by the ex-President which was set up with a clear mandate to submit its reports within two weeks. This is indeed a positive development which many believe could bring about lasting solution to the party’s problems.

There is also the thinking in Jonathan’s camp that following from the meeting, everyone now appears to be on the same page by having the right reading of the genuine intentions of the former President for the good of the party. They reason that those who initially accused him of installing Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as Chairman are now rising to defend the ex-president’s neutrality and integrity, given the cultured way he handled the disagreement at the meeting.

By throwing his hat in the ring and coming all out to intervene in the crisis and displaying the disposition and humility that is accommodating to all interests and tendencies, Jonathan has demonstrated ample commitment towards helping to arrest the drift in the party.

In his very well received rousing speech at the meeting Jonathan charged party members to put aside their personal interest, and rein in their big ego in the interest of the party.  Coming from a man who lives by example, many committed party members who listened to him were moved by this timely admonition.

Many observers blamed Sheriff for storming out of the meeting, despite his inexcusable lateness, thereby throwing away the ample opportunity offered him to bond with other estranged members of the party who gathered in their hundreds on the invitation of the former President.

They see that as a crass display of ill-temper and grumpiness, quite unbecoming of a man who clings to the appellation of the national chairman of the nation’s biggest political party.

Their point is that in a situation of reconciliation, there was no need for an interested party, no matter how highly placed, to insist on exercising any form of authority, otherwise there wouldn’t have been any reason for the reconciliation being sought in the first place.

Said Collins Ugwu, a member of Restart PDP Group, “When you enter a reconciliation, if you are sincere you leave your ego, anger and selfishness at the door.”

According to Ugwu, “The appearance of Jonathan directly on the floor of the reconciliatory process and other leaders of honour is the much awaited catalyst that will naturally stir the foundations of the party and of the nation at large to pick its natural healing process.”

He feels that the only way the nation’s democratic experience will develop firm roots is to allow the PDP the opportunity to mend to be able to fulfil its role as a functional and virile opposition.

Similarly, a good governance advocacy group, Centre for Democratic Renaissance, (CDR) recently commended the former President for “coming out from his political convalescence to lead the latest and hopefully, the spell breaking peace initiative that could restore momentum to Nigeria’s main opposition party.” The group in a statement last week  by its Executive Director, Dr. Mustapha Idris, also advised “Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to suppress his big ego and step back from the path of destruction in order to salvage his crumbling political career.”

Most analysts believe that this is the time for the party leaders to walk the talk by wholeheartedly embracing Jonathan’s peace effort and ensuring that it succeeds. That way, the PDP will quickly return to its days of glory to be able to provide the credible and responsible opposition which is needed to strengthen the nation’s democracy.

There is no doubt that the intervention of ex-President Jonathan have so far brought a new vigour and renewed hope in the PDP. It is also true that the much hyped PDP stakeholders meeting may not have fully met the expectation of many. But it remains an important milestone in the road to peace for the party.

This is because the road to peace, as is often said, is long and nobody gets political solution to an entrenched crisis overnight.

The onus is therefore on both feuding parties to show genuine commitment to the political process initiated by Jonathan.

––Mohammed is resident in Yola, Adamawa State

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