Prophecy, Not Prophesy


By Ebere Wabara

YOU are welcome to this introductory politico-grammar: “Mbaka’s prophesy (prophecy) comes true, Ihedioha sacked” There is clear distinction between nouns and verbs.

“Stakeholders urge EFCC, ICPC to conduct thorough investigation on (into) the matter”

“Disease control (Disease-control) centre activates 3 labs for disease outbreak samples”

“Traders count loses (losses) as fire guts Sokoto old market”

“Mohammed urged the cleric not to indulge in actions that can (could) divide the country along religious lines.”

“You are arguably one of Nigeria’s foremost industrialists….” What is the meaning of this schoolboy contradiction? 

According to the Book of Proverbs (12 v 1), whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. On this note, you are welcome to this week’s contribution. For me, I treasure other language columnists and cherish the candour of those who critique my own work. There is no perfection in the business of public communication, yet we have to keep striving after purism.  

Our kick-off errors this week are from The Guardian of January 18: “Even when members of the Special Task Force (STF) came to restore order at the venue….” Conscience, Nurtured by Truth:  restore order to (not at) the venue….

“Ekiti CAN members protest over unannounced primaries’ results” (Headline) The Flagship (is it still?) of journalism in Nigeria should know that ‘protest’ takes ‘about’, ‘against’ or ‘at’; not ‘over’. Even these are optional.

“In Nigeria, if you loose, you call a press conference telling the world the judge does not like your face or is biased and so on.” Just lose.

“Nigeria’s first private refinery takes-off soon” Phrasal verbs abhor hyphenation. 

“Every one of us has a part to play as electorates because this is the only country we have.”  Democracy for Justice: ‘electorate’ is a collective that does not need any inflection. A rewrite: Every one of us has a part to play as a member of the electorate or as an elector (or still, all of us have a part to play as the electorate). Perhaps, with time, the usage would register.

The Guardian Opinion Pages of January 18 splashed five undemocratic lines: “…good governance in a continent where the use of impunity, unfortunately, has become an instrument of democratic governance.” Tunisia’s changing times: on a continent.

“Like (As) I have always said….”

“…calling to question the forced involvement of Nigeria in the second world war.” At a time like this: World War II.

“It was this situation that heightened the political condition in the country that culminated into….” ‘Culminate’ takes ‘in’.

“London was actually constantly under siege until he was eventually extradited back to Nigeria….” The Guardian is not on trial, but let us delete ‘back’ from the extract for all parties’ collective grammatical sanity.

From Rutam House, we shift our focus to THE PUNCH of January 17 which offered its readers the following shibboleths: “2011 budget under threats as N’ Assembly shifts resumption” (Headline) News: under threat.

From the preceding diseased headline to this juvenile slipshodness: “Doctors suspend stike in Kaduna, Ebonyi” Even the computer underscored this strike carelessness from the same page as above! Do we still have editorial bastions (proofreaders) this time round? Remember: not ‘this time around’!

 As an aside, I recollect my foundational entry into journalism on March 14, 1983, as a proofreader in the heyday of Daily Times! This cutting of teeth on reading and writing underpins whatever modest professional attainments I have reached today and the concomitant currency of my career profile. The 1983 proofreading class of fond memories comprised Kenneth Chioma Ugbechie, Isaac Hope Anumihe, Tony Ikhuenitiju (now Olumuyiwa) and Olaosun Okalanwon under the head readership of Mr. Abu Olarenwaju, a detribalized Nigerian and an urbane gentleman.

Lastly from THE PUNCH under ‘cross-examination’ after my historical intervention: “The facility will result in improved security profile of the Internet traffic and save the nation of the embarrassment of….” Info-tech: save the nation the embarrassment of….  

“Renowned filmmakers will converge in (on) Nigeria next week for….”

“Voice of the Electorate (V.O.T.E) congratulates PDP delegates nationwide for (on/upon) defining history….” (Sacredness of advertisement copies notwithstanding)!

THE PUNCH OPINION of January 10 circulated two goofs: “Politically, experts in IT advocated for the use of e-voting system….” Once again, ‘advocate’ when used as a verb does not admit ‘for’.

“There will be what I call enriched mobile communication experience come 2011 through mobile money….” ICT development: experience in 2011.

One of the national newspapers under review darkened the English language copiously: “PDP in make or mar primary” (Special Report Bold Front Page and Cover Headline) Get it right: make-or-mar primary. The hyphenation confers class. No standard publication dispenses with it. The same tragedy trailed the accompanying rider, too: “State by state analysis (sic) of how delegates may vote” As above: State-by-state analyses….

“…today’s presidential primary may be riddled with so much (many) underhand deals and sharp practices.” (COMMENT) What is the difference between ‘underhand deals’ and ‘sharp practices’? The latter should subsume the former! An aside: ‘much’ instead of ‘many’?

“In doing so (a coma) some of the government’s supporters may certainly have overstepped the bound of propriety….” From the other side: the bounds of propriety.

“Reactions to this position have been pouring in, and it’s highly elating that most share same position.” This way: most share the same position.

“Majority of Nigerians are of the opinion that a country roundly blessed has no business tottering at the brink of disintegration and collapse.” A/the majority of Nigerians….

Let us conclude this review with my usual style of ending charity at home (excuse the poetic coinage) by featuring last week’s edition of THE NATION ON SUNDAY now: “A court ruled affirming zoning but paradoxically dismissing Atiku’s suite.” ONE WEEK of big men and small men: simply Atiku’s suit.

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