EXPRESSION AND INSIGHT STORIES
With Ebere Wabara , firstname.lastname@example.org, 08055001948
|SATURDAY PUNCH of August 19 leads the faulty bunch today: “…remanded in prison…” Just remanded—usually in prison/EFCC custody|
DAILY SUN Editorial of August 16 goofed on two occasions: “What this means is that the explosives have been lying idle for over 47 years, posing a threat to lives and property.” ‘Life’ here is used generically—it does not mean just a life. This way, therefore: life and property.
‘Return back’ (wrong); return (right); ‘log of wood’ (wrong); simply log (right)
Still on DAILY SUN Editorial: “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Get it right: forewarned is forearmed. The extract is a Nigerian creation unfit for any formal writing, especially an editorial.
OVERHEARD: “How is your children”? My dear reader, over to you!
“The feeling is that many don’t want to be seen to take a position which would be interpreted as confrontational and as such they have resulted (resorted) to lobbying prominent figures outside government to….”
“These 17 luxury cars and SUVs of the former governor which will make any Arabian Sheik grin (green or green with envy) are parked in his GRA Jos adopted home.
“The actual name of the person expected to chairman (chair/preside over) this occasion is….”
Wrong: atimes; right: at times (two words)
“Those who have the power to release the suspect but are passing the bulk (buck) to the courts should be informed that it is against the national interest to refuse to release….”
“The former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, explained that it was not the first time that banks would be liquidated and that the history of bank failure in the country dated (dates) back to 1958 or 1959.” Note: dates back to or dates back from is a stock expression.
“In reaction to the leaflets being circulated, the Kano State Commissioner of Police…made a radio and television broadcast telling the people to ignore the leaflets which he described as the handiwork of mischieve (mischief) makers.” Special note: make-believe (not make-belief).
“When the storm rages, men can do nothing about the storm, but when the storm has seized (ceased), its destruction can be redressed.”
Theoretical linguists, curriculum experts and “educationalists” (educationists or educators), working together or separately, have been busy putting forward suggestions for language education reform. Note especially: “educationalist”, like “invitee”, is not in any respected dictionary. These comic words were invented by Nigerians.
“Armed robbers again jolted the commercial city of Lagos last week Friday (last Friday/last Friday week or on Friday, last week).”
“Students write exams half naked (half dressed/half clothed/half covered or half clad, or naked/bare to the waist).”
“I stood up, took another coin out of my pocket and put it near my half–empty (half–full) beer glass.” Special note: in editorial English, we say or write: half clothed/half covered/half dressed/half clad (‘clad’ is obsolete as a participle) naked or bare to the waist or clothed from the waist down or naked/bare, or fully dressed: half-full (not half-empty); semi-literate/half or sub-literate/half lettered (not semi illiterate); half sighted (not half blind); half alive (not half dead); employment problem or unemployment (not unemployment problem).
Unlike other intellectual leaders of Nigerian progressive movement, such as Professors Ikenna Nzimiro, Eskor Toyo, Akin Oyebode, G.G. Darah, Doctors Edwin Madunagu, Ola Oni, Segun Osoba, O. Onoge, Bala Usman, Dr. Tunji Otegbeye is not an “academician” (academic) in a formal sense. Special note: ‘an academician’ is not synonymous with ‘an academic’ just as ‘presently’ is not synonymous with ‘at present.’ ‘Presently’ always means SOON and ‘at present’ always means NOW.
EBERE, you have become, like Ndaeyo Uko, a man well-known for his sardonic wit and wisdom and for his penchant for the use of irony and pun. Truly, some Nigerians, including journalists, writers and columnists, are trying their hardest to un-English the English language beyond recognition, just like the people of Virgin Islands! These people’s variety of English is called ‘Calypo English’ just as the African–Americans have ‘South or Black English.’ And Nigerians have ‘Nigerian English’! But English, like truth, is one.
It should be noted that although “still yet” is not accepted as a standard phrase, “yet still” is quite accepted. “Yet still” is used by modem writers, particularly British journalists and writers. Example: “At home (in the U.S.A) the terrifying problems of crime, racial violence, social disharmony refused to yield to oratory, however inspiring, or to law, however comprehensive yet still the Kennedy magic advanced. He was not really a radical; if anything, he was a careful conservator. Some select people called “speech writers” are very fond of mechanical errors that result in failed, fractured or diseased English. It is very sad. Yes, it is our moral duty to ensure that some folk are not allowed to kill this universal language.
Please note that while ‘general consensus’ is unacceptable, ‘broad consensus’ is and while ‘heavy downpour’ is not allowable, ‘great downpour’ is. (Anonymous)
“IT is wrong and insulting to the Office of the Vice-President (V-P) to write ‘Vice President’ as journalists do without hyphenation. In my opinion, ‘vice president’ (without hyphenation) is a president who is immoral and wicked. My view is based on one of the meanings of the noun ‘vice.’ I stand to be corrected.
(Stanley Nduagu, English language teacher and principal, Evangel Secondary School, Isiala Ngwa/Abia State/08062925996)
I agree with the intervention a fortnight ago that in a presidential system, a general election, rather than general elections as used in THE NATION’s Editorial, is correct. It means the totality of scheduled presidential and legislative polls.
Also in the same medium: “Pandemonium and near anarchy was let LOSE” at the Kogi State House of Assembly during an attack by thugs” (see DAILY SUN, August 2, 2017, page 6). The paper meant LOOSE, a situation that is out of control.
“As a student, I had always wondered why…they need to WADE (WARD) off competitors….” (THE NATION ON SUNDAY, August 13)
Rulers Vs Leaders
have always regarded Ile-Ife, in Osun State (or State of Osun as Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola prefers to call it), as a second home. I visit it as often I can, because my sister, a lecturer at OAU and her lovely family live there, and when I was still single, for other very colourful reasons – which the missus must not hear about. Anyway, until recently, it was a quaint little town, where everywhere of notewas just a three-minutes drive away; in fact, I used to describe it affectionately as a “three-minutes-noodle-town” because of the ease it took to get around.
But that was then, and this is now.
During my last visit, I was shocked by the sheer number of Okada riders – those ubiquitous, dare-devil riders with an obvious death wish. Like a swarm of bees, they seem to be everywhere; on pathways, walkways and most times, brazenly riding against traffic. When I mentioned this to my sister, she bemoaned the menace they had become, and how the orthopedic wing of the teaching hospital had been kept very busy, by a seemingly, endless stream of Okada accident victims.
Sad as it was, this was no news to me, issues around and about Okada and its riders are a familiar tale in most Nigerian towns and cities – where they serve both as a means of transportation and employment. However, my interest was stirred when she mentioned that the town’s Okada Riders Association had contributed money to buy for their chairman, a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) or Jeep, as most Nigerians prefer to call it. Ordinarily, this itself should be no news – it could very well have been a gift for his exemplar service to the association, b-but, alas, that was not the case. The reason for the SUV was because the association’s members felt it was incongruous for their leader to attend the town’s transport association meetings, in a less befitting vehicle – they simply did not want to look like poor cousins at such gatherings.
Now, this to me was news. It beats the imagination that an association with no pension, welfare or health insurance scheme for its highly vulnerable members, will elect instead, to spend millions on a vehicle, ostensibly for the comfort of its chairman, and just to keep up appearances. What next, you might ask, probably, another huge vote for a luxury accommodation in an exclusive location, while, its members continue to toil and live in abject poverty.
This is most certainly not an isolated case –– we live with it every day of our lives –– we see it in our politics and even religion – and we have unwittingly become complicit in the warped logic, that those elected to lead us should live a life of comfort and luxury, even as they rule over us; whilst we live a life of servitude. Unfortunately, the line between leadership and rulership has been permanently blurred.
I have equally come to the painful realization that our collective lack of understanding of the difference(s) between ruler ship and leadership is the very reason why we seem to be forever mired in this morass of economic and political non-development.
You see, by simple definition, a ruler owns his subjects; lock, stock and barrel; them accountable to him, but he, not unaccountable to them – exactly the same relationship a person has with property. Some people feel that their rulers should never be questioned, and must be provided for at all times, with all the trappings of their positions and none of the responsibilities – in their opinion, rulers are beyond reproach. On the other hand, leadership is the direct foil of ruler ship, but with added benefits – it is selfless, visionary and inspiring.
Clearly, there is a dearth of visionary leadership in our polity, this I have serially mentioned in previous articles. Instead, we have rulers who regard us as their private property, to be treated with contempt and downright rudeness.
Over the years, I have kept a detailed record of these slights by those we have had the misfortune to be our rulers, and save for Abacha’s, no other administration comes any close to this present one, for the condescending tone with which it engages the populace – for instance, innocuous questions about the whereabouts and health status of the President were routinely and flippantly brushed aside. This is aside the derisive name-calling and intemperate use of words to describe political opponents or people with alternate viewpoints, not to mention the brazen and conscienceless fudging of facts and figures to mask their disastrous anti-people policies.
Sadly, the above-mentioned pales in comparison, to the excuse(s) tendered for the continuous retention of the unusually high number of aircrafts in the Presidential fleet. In a nation without a recognizable national carrier (please no one should get me started by describing Arik and Medview as national carriers), the populace are left to suffer the indignity of connecting flights, unjustifiably exorbitant fares; while an aircraft from the presidential fleet was reportedly left idling away on a London airport tarmac, for the entirety of the President’s over-extended medical vacation.
And in case we have all come down with a sudden case of selective amnesia, let me remind us all that the President, then a candidate, railed against the wisdom behind such an extensive presidential fleet – things do really change when you become a ruler. Sigh!
Some will describe it as the perks of office, and I do not begrudge their right to hold this viewpoint. However, we must insist that those perks come with responsibilities, and as we say in marketing communications –– deliverables. After all, it is our sweat, and taxes that pay for it, therefore, we must insist, always, that our collective welfare and well-being must always be paramount.
So, as I share with you in the coming weeks and months, my thoughts on leadership, and suggest steps we can take to redefine our collective roles, permit me to share this poignant quote I stumbled upon online “…a ruler is an owner of property, and a leader is a driver of ideas and ideals…” Nigeria needs leaders. Nigeria deserves better.
––“Be resolute in your convictions, but never absolute in your views” –Duke Ogunbor