Still on Abacha Loot


Saturday with media men

DAILY SUN headline faux pas of December 11 welcomes us today: “QRC Abuja Alumnae celebrates (celebrate) friendship, achievement”

THISDAY Front Page of December 9 takes the baton from DAILY SUN today with three headline faults: “US, Switzerland sign agreement to return $621m Abacha, Alamieyeisegha (Alamieyesiegha) loots” Truth & Reason: ‘loot’ is uncountable.

Another banner blunder from the above edition: “In make or mar (make-or-mar) chairmanship election, Secondus is frontrunner”

“INEC confirms dates for 2019 general elections (election)” In the extracted environment, ‘election’ is non-count.

“A delegate of the PDP in Ogun State…slumped and died in the early hours of Thursday in an hotel in Abeokuta, the state capital.” This is certainly the old school genre. New class: a hotel.

“Police absolves security agencies of electoral fraud” It would be astounding for the Nigeria Police to indict fellow state gangsters! And, of course: police absolve (not absolves).

THE PUNCH opinion pages of December 11 circulated some unpardonable mistakes: “…even if it means going extra miles….” I will go the extra mile (note the fixed expression) to ensure that this column appears unfailingly every week.

“And like (as) someone said recently….”

“…in the evacuation of dead bodies to mortuary.” On a clinical note: corpses instead of ‘dead bodies’ and a mortuary or mortuaries, depending on the fact of the matter.

“…as well as condoning the place and evacuating the dead and survivors to nearest health facilities.” Bomb blasts and conflicting figures: cordoning off (take note of the spelling and correct entry) the place.

“There seems (seem) to be stiff competitions among the foreign media and local press as well as….”

“…politicians are also culprits in overheating the system with provocative statements in blaming their opponents over (for) every misdeed.”

“…the likely antics of masquerades behind some of those disasters when one juxtaposes the scenario to the forthcoming general elections (general election—not elections).” Additionally: juxtaposes the scenario and/with (not to) the forthcoming general election. As voter registration begins any moment from next year, let us carry out our civic duty by participating and being our brother’s keeper (not brothers’ keepers, irrespective of the number)!

Let us welcome last week’s edition of this medium which contained a few errors and thereafter a cocktail of nondescript infelicities from the mass media: “Baring few skirmishes which regrettably led to the death of four persons….” An anatomy of the season of linguistic violence: there is a world of distinction between ‘a few’ (which correctly applies here) and ‘few’, which connotatively suggests an expectation of more skirmishes—except if the writer has a weird denotative inclination towards potentialities for more skirmishes! Otherwise, the extract is lexically absurd because of his regret.    

“Just imagine a young man that rounded up his apprenticeship as a welder.”  This is an indication of the current malaise in scholarship: a situation where a lecturer cannot distinguish between phrasal verbs, ‘round up’ and ‘round off’ (which applies here).

“Will anybody please let us know which country became a super-power by allowing its best brains to roam about the world?”  ‘Roam’ encompasses ‘about’.

“News from the universities are no longer about innovation.…” News is news (uncountable).

“The condition, which is said to be due to an abnormality in either the number or structure of the chromosomes, cuts across every races.”  Get it right: every race or all races.

“Janet, a twelve-year-old and the third child of her parents’ four offsprings and the only one with the problem…” ‘Offspring’ is non-count.

“Since 1993, funding of oil explorations have (has) been beset by different levels of problems.”

“In answering this question we classify the outcomes into long term and short term implications.”  The greatest problem of journalists: unnecessary embellishment (outcome) of words.

“This is clearly a danger signal as the time between discovering an oil field and commercially putting it on stream could be between four to five years.”  No analysis: between four and five or from four to five years.

“THISDAY checks reveal that every termination penalties goes from 500,000 US dollars to 2 million US dollars”.  Check the discord as already discussed above.

“Lack of funds cripple waste management activities” Another error of attraction: Lack of funds cripples.

“Nevertheless, the donor country is also interested in this decision to ensure that the loan is repaid as at when due with its accrued interest.” Without any periscope: the loan is repaid when due (not as at when due which is pleonastic).

“Government should consider the destructive effect that further delay in the sale of rescued banks would mete out on the banking system”.  Stock phrase: mete out to (not on) the banking system.

“If the family cannot truely relish at least a decent meat….” Spelling counts: truly.

“A man does not have to be a money bag (sic) before he can dress well and look charming in his own little way.” Brighten up your English usage: A man does not have to be a moneybags….  ‘Moneybag’ is a sac!

“…in addition, (sic) to dispensing drugs for immediate relief and giving counsel on the steps necessary to prevent a reoccurrence.” Good grammar: recurrence.

“…it sent the signal that those responsible for the security of lives and properties in Oyo State are working at cross-purposes”. Some caution, please: life and property (preferably or lives and property). ‘Property’, in this context, is uncountable.

“The arsonists usually escape with their loot as the embattled market lays in ashes, leaving many traders terminally ruined financially.” There should be no dilemma: ‘lays’ for ‘lies’?

“If somebody had told me when I met with late Dr. Ernest Ogunade shortly before his death that it was going to be the last encounter with him.…”  The first and only time when I met (not with) the (vital article) late Dr. Ogunade he commended this column as published in the heyday of Daily Times profusely. May his cerebral soul continue to rest in peace (not ‘perfect peace’ as abused in Nigeria)!

“I still remember vividly that when it was my turn to speak at the occasion….”  I thought we had gone past this stage: on (never at) the occasion.


Saraki: The Most Vilified, Yet the Best

Chuks Okocha


he President of the Eighth Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, is constitutionally the number three citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Yet, he is, perhaps, the most vilified by organs of the government. He is hardly allowed to settle down to direct the affairs of the Senate and, indeed, the National Assembly.

But Saraki is undaunted. He has continued to move the Senate from one height to another. The eighth Senate under his leadership has broken many grounds when compared to other times in the National Assembly.

Saraki means different things to different people. To some, he is a consummate medical doctor, a banker extraordinaire, an astute sports lover, and a skilful politician. Many others see him as a humanist with unwavering inclination for the welfare of the masses. But both his friends and foes admit Saraki’s resume is intimidating. No matter the angle from which you view the Senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District, he is not in any way diminished.

The former Kwara State governor’s ascendancy in all spheres of human endeavour continues to baffle even his closest allies. His ever increasing political profile in the country has expectedly made him an issue in the Nigerian political landscape. But nobody can deny the fact that Saraki is a leader per excellence. Little wonder President Muhammadu Buhari last year described him as one of the most influential politicians of our time.

By dint of hard work, Saraki has proved himself a politician with unassailable knack for raising the bar to deliver exceptional results. He does not believe in working from the answer, he confronts issues as they arise to achieve an answer. His impressive scorecard is loaded with accomplishments. He has a record of confronting even the most difficult tasks, and that has been a huge plus for him.

By all standards, he is one of the few privileged Nigerians born with the silver spoon. But he never flaunts it. Saraki did not disappoint as a medical doctor. After his graduation from the prestigious London Hospital Medical Collage of the University of London in 1987, where he obtained M.B.B.S (London), Saraki worked as a medical officer at Rush Green Hospital, Essex, from 1988 to 1989.

On his return to the country, Saraki’s versatility projected him to emerge as the executive director of   Societe Generale Bank (Nig) Ltd, a bank owned by his family, from 1990 to 2000. Drawing from his taste for the improvement of sports, Saraki has not only provided life wire to many sports organisations, but he has also capped it all with the establishment of the top flight Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) football club. Saraki, who was elected unopposed as Senate President on June 9, 2015, was governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011. After his meritorious service as Chief Executive Officer of Kwara State, he was elected into the Senate in April 2011 and was re-elected in March 2015. Saraki’s tenure as Kwara State governor saw massive transformation and reforms in agriculture, health, education, finance and rural development.

One of Saraki’s outstanding achievements was the invitation of displaced white farmers from Zimbabwe to Kwara State, where the government offered them opportunity and a large expanse of land to farm. The invitation of the white farmers led to the establishment of the Shonga Farms programme, which is now being replicated across Nigeria with massive investments in poultry, dairy production and crop farming with improved farm yields. Saraki’s charisma among his brother governors led to his emergence as chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. It is on record that under Saraki, Kwara State became the first state to complete the Nigeria Independent Power Project. In collaboration with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Saraki did not only re-energise the Ganmo Power Station in Ilorin, but he also connected over 375 rural communities to the national grid through the development and installation of 725 transformers and seven substations.

The state further completed four electrification projects, which meant power became stable 18–22 hours a day. 90 per cent of people living in Kwara have access to electricity, compared to a national average of 30 per cent. Saraki became chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in 2007 with focus on the establishment of a reformed and a fully resourced secretariat, including a technical and administrative division that was entirely focused on delivery. It was under Saraki’s chairmanship that new processes, such as the State Peer Review Mechanism, were developed to ensure closer collaboration and ensure that best practices could be shared between states. The mechanism allowed case studies to be shared between states in a number of policy fields, including power projects, primary healthcare centres for villages and other rural locations, road works, water, solar schemes and the construction of specialist hospitals and state universities.

Perhaps, one of the most widely acclaimed achievements of the NGF under Saraki was its patriotic intervention in the problematic assumption of power by then-Vice President Goodluck Jonathan following the illness and subsequent death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The NGF, under Saraki, pushed intellect to its limit, worked with the National Assembly to implement the celebrated Doctrine of Necessity, which was then passed as a resolution by the National Assembly. The Doctrine of Necessity allowed Vice President Jonathan to take over and become acting President until the President returned. It was a novelty packaged by the NGF to save a dicey situation that had the capacity to derail the democratic process in the country.

The humanity in the Kwara Central lawmaker has continued to rise. Saraki is at the forefront of the campaign for health, food security, education and environmental regeneration. He promoted vigorously the campaign for strengthened laws on the clean-up of oil spills. With his National Oil Spill and Detection and Response Agency Amendment Bill, Saraki seeks to ensure oil companies pay appropriate compensation to communities affected by oil spills. The profile of Saraki continues to blossom as a champion of popular opinion and the people’s representative.

Happy birthday to the people’s senator. The best in you is yet to come.

–––Okocha is Special Assistant to the Senate President on Print Media.

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