Presidential Speech Solecisms


Media Gaffes By Ebere Wabara

WELCOME to the New Year!
“If you borrow to fund white elephant projects….” (Politics & Power, December 30) Get it right: delete ‘projects’, which is encapsulated in ‘elephants’. This way: to fund white elephants
“PTF: Fresh mandate amidst (amid) COVID-19 second wave”
“For President Buhari the time is tickling (ticking)….” (THE NATION ON SUNDAY, January 3, 2021)

“If these three groups pull their resources together, it may not be difficult to….” Get it right: pool (not ‘pull’) resources with the exclusion of ‘together’, which is otiose.
“Tenure elongation: Court dismisses Nasarawa LG chairman (chairman’s) suite (suit)”
“It’s time (high time) something drastic was done about this hell-born evil in the skin of doctors” Alternatively, it is time something drastic is done about….
“Area Commander reads riot act (the riot act) to criminals”
“Airforce (Air force) jet crashlands (crash-lands) in Yola”
“NBA raises alarm (the alarm) over kidnap of member”
“5,000 Ogun residents benefit from Aisha Buhari’s health screening (health-screening) initiative”

Wrong: Cat and mouse game in APC
Right: Cat-and-mouse game in APC
“Dear customer, due to our BVN system upgrade (a comma) your ATM card has been deactivated. To reactivate (another comma) kindly (what is the function of ‘kindly’ here?) call MR. JOHN on 08163471976 for reactivation.” Abracadabra: ‘to reactivate…for reactivation’! The number used to send this fraudulent message to gullible clients, mostly, is 09035088335. Please do not be a victim of this kind of serial scam. This intervention is much more important than the excerpted lexical and grammatical blunders.

“Jibrin, however, said his lawyers have (had)….” (THISDAY, January 5)
“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?

Most of the errors this week are from The Guardian of January 1: “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 clergy killings in the North” 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.

“…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.

“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….”

THE PUNCH OPINION of January 1 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 2021 through mobile money….” ICT development: experience in 2021.

“…today’s presidential primary may be riddled with so much (many) underhand deals and sharp practices.” 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….” Get it right: 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….
“A court ruled affirming zoning but paradoxically dismissing Atiku’s suite.” ONE WEEK of big men and small men: simply Atiku’s suit.

From the Other Side
THE president’s national broadcast of January 1, 2021, our Lord’s year indeed, was not devoid of errors. His speechwriters need to always make time to do a thorough work. Paragraphs 3 and 13, among a few other paragraphs, contain very glaring lexical and grammatical errors. Paragraph 3: “…we saw this year put to test (put to the test) our resilience….” We correctly say: put to the test, put to the vote, etc. Paragraph 13: ‘…with a view to enhance (with a view to enhancing)….Any secondary school student who is worth his salt knows that whenever any of the phrases: with a view to, look forward to, etc. is used, the accompanying word should end in ‘-ing’ Mr. President’s speechwriters should always ensure that the president’s speeches are properly edited before any broadcast. Happy New Year!

(Contributed by Dr. Stanley Nduagu/08062925996/Aba)

It is my supplication that we would have infrequent errors this year in our use of the English language. And so shall it be! May you never be involved in ‘my bank and your wife’ a la FCMB!