Media Gaffes stories Restore…To, Not ‘In’


With Ebere Wabara
OVERHEARD: “I am going for night vigil at one of the churches in my neighbourhood.” Get it right with the assistance of my copious reference books: ‘vigil’ is a noun that is countable and uncountable, depending on context. First explanation: A period of time, especially during the night, when you stay awake to pray, remain with someone who is ill, or watch for danger. An example: Eva and Paul kept a constant vigil by their daughter’s hospital bedside. Second meaning: A silent political protest in which people wait outside a building, especially during the night: silent/candle-lit vigil. Another elucidation: Two thousand demonstrators held a candle-lit vigil outside the embassy. Take note of the emphasis in both explanations: especially during the night—that is the crux of my intervention. So, simply say: I am going for a vigil in the church or hospital or elsewhere (as the situation demands). Do you understand?

“6 killed, 3 injured in multiple accident (accidents) in Niger” (News around the City, October 21). What is really going on, gentlemen of the Press?
“…take certain critical steps urgently to restore, (sic) hope, confidence and trust in (to) constituted authority as well as usher in an atmosphere of unity among Nigerians.”
“In most of the incidents, lives and properties (life and property) were lost.” ‘Property’ is uncountable except in technical applications. Because of the plurality involved in the fatalistic development, ‘lives’ were lost all right. Since ‘property’ is involved, the fixed expression becomes ‘life and property’, which contextually indicates existential and infrastructural pluralism.

“In the eyes and reckoning of every Imo citizens, there has only been two administrations in the state.” Every Imo citizen or all Imo citizens…and this: there have (not has) only been two administrations in the state.
“NPA commends FG over (for) port reforms” (THISDAY, September 27)
“Nigeria’s aviation industry has witnessed some changes since the administration of late Musa Umar Yar’dua….” (THISDAY, October 27) The administration of the late….

“After four years of solid performance on the saddle…” Let God’s will be done: in the saddle.
“Some states have seized the opportunity to make waves….” It is only in America and Nigeria that opportunities are seized. In New (Formal/Standard) English environments, you either use or take opportunities. ‘Seize’ inseparably involves the use of some measure of force or deployment of violence.
Yet another headline goof from the above edition: “Tantalizers fete (fetes) kids on Independence Day” Tantalizers is just a company.
“Post election panel is illegal and diversionary” (DAILY TRUST, October 26) Get it right: Post-election panel illegal, diversionary
“It is perhaps in this light that the series of consultative meeting….” Folk (popular) etymology: the series of consultative meetings.

“in this regard, one must doff one’s hat for Chief Sylvanus Ogbonna….” This way: take off/doff one’s hat to (not for).
“In the last elections, voters had to choose between three parties essentially….” ‘Between three parties’ is simply acidulous. Formal expression: among three parties….
“The security-men who arrested Chima were eight in number (what would ‘eight’ have been?) and arrived at about 10 a .m. in the morning.” Towards Standard English for readers: at 11.a.m or about 11a.m, if there is an element of uncertainty. To employ the two in one breath is irksome. How does this sound: ’10 a.m. in the morning’?
“Of course film-makers should also watch them so that the public can be told the videos are not some Hollywood make-belief.” My comment: make-believe.
“Pondering over the nation is the spectra of economic corruption and a descent into (to) chaos and anarchy.” Singular: spectrum and plural (spectra).

“It is therefore most expedient for ex-Generals like Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida to re-examine its (their) role in government and take a honourable bow from politics.” A time to quit: an honourable bow.
“Even now, no talk of regional or sub-regional integration is complete in this continent without an echo from Nigeria.” Diplomacy: on the continent.
“…am convinced that what held the audience spell-bounded and excited was the fact of an Anglophone being able to tell him in their own language.”

“Instead, people compete and fall over one another for the crumbs and fallouts from the ‘high table’ (platform/dais/rostrum) and even defend the indefensible.” ‘Fallout’ is uncountable.
“…we swept them under the carpet pretending that all was well when in actual (what for?) fact we were heading towards apocalypse.”
“…others point out the moral ground for such action (an action), given Labour’s antecedents in the past.” ‘Antecedents in the past’? This is unacceptable for obvious reasons. One of these days, somebody would write ‘future antecedents’! Take away ‘in the past’.
“As at 1985 there are (were) over 36,000 dams in the world with about 18,000 in China alone.”

“Are you therefore surprise (sic) to find mediocres promoted beyond their highest level of competency.” The noun form of ‘mediocre’ (an adjective) is ‘mediocrity’ or ‘mediocrist’
“Statistics of African debt profile shows (show) that Nigeria owes about 15 per cent of the continent’s debt.”
“But none of these leaders coming with large (a large) retinue of people (would it have been of animals?) will agree that it is important to back-up (back up) their good wishes with concrete policy (a concrete policy) in the area of debt management for sustainable growth.”

“Within the 15 years of the four military regimes under review, Nigeria moved twice from one extreme end of the scale to the other in her (its) relation with other nations.” Either extreme or end—both cannot co-function.
“General Babangida’s emergence on the scene brought an initial soothing balm in Nigeria’s foreign relations because of his early release of a transition programme.” ‘Soothing balm’ is offensive to good scholarship. What else, apart from soothing, would balm do?

“While the Chinese were still protesting the bombing of their embassy in Belgrade, NATO had gone ahead to bomb the Swiss embassy, causing damages (damage) to the Angolan embassy and hit (hitting) a hospital, among others.”
“What is laying a siege on (to) public wealth and traumatizing all those who dared to point accusing fingers.” Delete ‘accusing’ because of its contextual redundancy. And this: point the finger (stock expression).
“How does the separation of powers that are (is) discernible in Government textbooks operate in real life.”
“Just as the banning of books and newspapers give (gives) rise to an illicit trade in them….”
“Perhaps it may interest you to note that the average take home (a hyphen) pay of a fresh university graduate a month, in any of the Federal ministry (ministries), was slightly above N3,000.”