Officials or Officers?

Officials or Officers?

Ebere Wabara

THE Guardian of April 16 nurtured lexical falsehoods: “…were in Wase on Friday (a comma) last week (another comma) for the restoration of peace and normalcy in (to) the council.”

“That last week (week’s) attack on Wase….’

“…three persons were reported killed in Kanana village in Langtan South by unidentified gunmen in their resumed hostilities.” Jettison ‘unidentified’ from the extract—these callous blokes are never identified or known. Spare readers the trite embellishments that are fast becoming components of Nigerian lexicon. (Vide the next sentence)

“It was learnt that unknown gunmen on Friday night….” Beyond the ‘unknown gunmen’ thrash, a reputable newspaper should obligatorily inform readers of what ‘it learnt’—not hazy and indolent reportage. 

Reporters should avoid these juvenile expressions: ‘It was gathered’/’It was further learnt’/’Sources informed our publication that….’ The foregoing and more demonstrate reportorial slothfulness! Go straight to the point.

“Reports say that the gunmen….” Why not ‘Accounts have it that the gunmen…?’ It sounds odd for a publication that is reporting an event to be saying ‘reports say….’!

Still on The Guardian: “BA plane develops fault, grounded at airport” Where else would it have been grounded? At Rutam House of The Guardian? To ground an aircraft is to stop it or the pilot from flying: All aircraft were grounded yesterday until the inclement weather cleared.

“…they condemned the airline officials for keeping them in the dark as to the real cause for (of) the delay.”

Now The Guardian of April 16 which contained four solecisms: “…the judiciary to whom (which) they look (look up to) for succour or redress has also turned to a haven of sorts for the looters.”

“Corrupt public officers (officials) do not worry about their arraignment in court anymore.” Except in rare extra-judicial circumstances, the only place for arraignment is court. Once someone is arraigned, it means that they were taken to a court. So, ‘arraignment in court’ is ‘under-bridge’/’bend-down’ English literature! 

Point of grammar: If the noun that follows a percentage of is plural, use a plural verb after it: Only a small percentage of people are interested in politics in Nigeria.

Last week’s unpardonable oversight: “This is why in the developed world, (sic) creation of jobs is used as indices (an index) of measuring the health of the economy.” Singular: index; plural: indexes or indices. Thanks to the eagle-eyed readers who noted this. I saw it shortly after I had hurriedly sent in my column, almost late. Apologies all the same!

Yet another slip-up: “…the level of unemployment generated on a monthly is key in information for the government.” (Source: as above) A rewrite: …the level of     unemployment generated on a monthly basis or monthly is key for the government.

“Assailant, vigilante member die in gun duel” (DAILY INDEPENDENT Rider, April 6) Get it right: vigilance member. Alternatively: Assailant, vigilante die in gun duel.

“INEC official arrested over ‘missing’ ballot papers” (THE NATION Banner, April 5) Truth in defence of freedom: ‘arrest’ takes ‘for’—not ‘over’!

“Woman arrested with AK-47, 148 live ammunitions” (THISDAY, March 31) The last word in the extract is uncountable. The Old English (Anglo-Saxon) period is gone!

“This will remove the possibility of passing the bulk (buck)” (THE PUNCH, March 30) No pedestrian English. 

“The organized private sector took the bull by the horn recently….” (DAILY INDEPENDENT, April 6) For a better society: take the bull by the horns.

“Britain handed over the reigns of power to the politicians.” (THE GUARDIAN, April 6) Modern English: reins of government.

“One even wonders why government did not adopt that method from the onset (outset).” (Vanguard, April 6)

“This is true given the restricted and guarded comments from those who have been priviledged to view the clips.” (Leadership, April 6) Spellings count: privileged.

“Government needs to put (get) its acts together and prosecute the kidnappers.” (Vanguard, April 6) My own comment: get its act (not acts) together.

“Vigilante group accused of murder“ Get it right : vigilance group.

“Apart from all these, the debt recovery (a hyphen confirms class) level of the banks have not been any issue of interest to NDIC.” (THISDAY, The Saturday Newspaper, April 1) Question CBN has to answer, debt recovery has (not have).

“It is believed in some quarters that the Nigerian Police has….” (THE NATION, April 6) Get it right: the Nigerian Police have.

The next five blunders are from Daily Trust of April 5: “And the leaders, being new on the saddle of political leadership (another comma) were.…” The challenges of good grammar: in the saddle.

“Efforts by the late Chief Obafemi  Awolowo and his group to remove Akintola from office was (were) fiercely resisted.” Why the discord?

“As a new democracy, there was (were) bound to be problems.” 

“In the course of the crisis, Awo and some of his lieutenants were arrested and charged for (with)….”

“The ethnic colouration of the coup led to a counter coup (a hyphen) in July 1966.” Spell-check: coloration.

“Have the previous exercises impacted meaningfully on the lives (life) of the average Nigerian?” 

“This could not have been possible if they had been outrightly liquidated.” ‘Outrightly’ is a Nigerian creation!  The right word ‘outright’ functions as an adverb and an adjective.  Therefore, it does not require any inflexion.  In other words:  This could not have been possible if they had been liquidated outright.  Even at that, ‘liquidation’ does not need any qualification because of its causative finality. So, if they had been liquidated.

‘Reopening’ abhors hyphenation.  It is not automatic that any word with a prefix must go with a hyphen, except where there is a vowel replication.  For instance: re-entry, but readmit, readjust, etcetera. 

“Legislators, oil chiefs parley on industry enhancing issues” Imagine the classical excellence a hyphen between ‘industry’ and ‘enhancing’ would have conferred on the headline.

“I said these are (were) beggars and I told my wife I better (I had better) get money ready for them.” (DAILY INDEPENDENT, April 6)

“The remains of the Ovie, sources in the town revealed, was (were) later tied….”

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