Media Gaffes

LET us begin from Coscharis Street, Apapa, Lagos:   “Anti-graft war: We’ll recover all loots—Buhari” (DAILY Sun Front Page Headline, January 3, 2018) Voice of The Nation: ‘loot’ is uncountable. This is an audacious misrepresentation of our President!

Next is DAILY Sun Back Page of January 8: “Your government has failed woefully (abysmally) in this regard.”

My dear reader, belated Happy New Year and best wishes in the months ahead….I went to the village a fortnight ago to bury my father-in-law. There was no sign of Yuletide-cum-New Year festivities—only gloomy faces and dismal environment! Were they recessionary fallout? The despondency was unprecedented.

“The regime of crime with many youths taking to kidnapping and all manners of vices….” (DAILY CHAMPION Opinion Page, December10) Right: all manner of vices.

“Menace of under-aged voters” (DAILY INDEPENDENT Headline, January 6) Get it right: underage voters. Never “overaged” players or “matured” politicians

“NASS will re-open Bakassi issue” (THISDAY Headline, December 30) This way: reopen.

“Ugwueze goes to the alter” (SATURDAY Vanguard Headline, January 7) High-heeled: altar.

“Imo: Late arrival of materials mar election in Oguta LG” (SATURDAY Tribune Front Page Headline, 7 May) A recurring case of subject-verb disagreement: Late arrival of materials mars (not mar). It has nothing to do with “materials”, but “late arrival”.

“In the past, such leaders have (had) plundered the common wealth and infected the environment with the demon of greed and avarice.” (NIGERIAN Tribune, December 11)

“The electorate streams (stream) out tomorrow at the beginning of a voting exercise that will ultimately ease out….” (THISDAY, May 11)

“There are two types of Persil brands in the market, apparently imported by private individuals (are there public individuals?) who thought there are (were) openings in Nigeria’s detergent market.” (Vanguard, May 11)

“Large turn-out signpost rescheduled Imo polls” (BUSINESSDAY, May 11) Get it right: turn-out signposts.

“No other country in (on) this continent throws up the kind of absurdities that we have in this land.” (DAILY INDEPENDENT, January 8)

“Such persons should be declared persona non grate (sic).” (Source: as above) At the crossroads: personae non grata.

“If he were still in power, the former governor would have been immuned (immune) to….” (DAILY Sun, December 11)

“Thirdly, corruption was not limited to the outgoing governor but involved his cohorts at the corridor of power.” (Nigerian Tribune, December 11) Africa’s executive robbers: in the corridors of power.

“Even though I wanted to see him, he advised against it on the ground that I could get into trouble….’’ (Sunday Champion, January 7)   The verdict: on the grounds.

Still on the above edition: “The state Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has 36 chapels out of which seven chapel officers, all duely (duly) nominated and some of the.…”

“…arrogating the powers of the National President and the Central Working Committee (CWC) on (to) himself and.…” (THE GUARDIAN, December 11)

“…the reduction on the external debt and investment in social infrastructures and equipments.”   (THE PUNCH, December 11) The last word in the extract is uncountable, just like these: stationery, bedding, cutlery, jewelry, gossip (as an act)….

“Why is President Muhammadu Buhari dragging his foot (feet/heels) on probing treasury looters…?” (DAILY CHAMPION, May 11)

“…abolish the federal agency and realign it into (with) mainstream government machinery.” (NIGERIAN Tribune, December 11)

“Thugs in Imo State lay siege on electoral materials” (Sunday Champion, May 8) This way: lay siege to (not on).

“They had a second wind between 1964 to 1985, though they did not know it.”   (Source: as above)   A recurring error: between 1964 and 1985 or from 1964 to 1985—no mix-up.

“I must confess from the onset that I am not a protagonist of military rule.’’ ((DAILY CHAMPION, May 11) Get it right: from the outset (in this context).

“The boss and his secretary will continue to have intimate official connection, in spite of gossips.” (DAILY CHAMPION, December 11)   ‘Gossip’, as an act, is uncountable. But, with reference to those who talk idly and backbite, inflection of the word is allowed.

“But ours is quite different, judging by the experience with regards to the activities of the elected….”   Either of these:   as regards or with regard to.

“The industrial sectors of the economy have to invest in information technology, the type of which would stimulate the necessary (could it have been unnecessary?) inputs to produce good results.’’ In British Standard English, which strictly applies here, ‘input’ is non-count, but countable in the usually informal American English, which, of course, is a corruption of the formal version.

“The elitist Ikoyi Club, established in 1938, sometime ago celebrated its Diamond Jubilee amid pomp and pageantry.” (DAILY CHAMPION, December 11)   Standard expression: pomp and ceremony (or circumstance) or just pomp.   The expression, ‘pomp and pageantry’, is a perversion of the English language.

“Staff Reporter…takes a peep into the nation’s recent past and notes that it is a past whose scars will remain for sometime.” (THE GUARDIAN, November 11)   Right focus: for some time.

“One of the suspects said his intention was to warm (worm) his way back to the country.…”

“…gunshot wounds he received in the hands of armed bandits….” (DAILY CHAMPION, October 11)   Reporters who don’t appreciate the magnitude of ‘banditry’ should play ball with ‘armed robbery’ ‘Banditry’ is simply criminal violence, involving sophisticated weaponry.   So, in the interest of morphological sanity, delete ‘armed’.

The next catachresis is from the Sunday Vanguard of January 7: “The chairman of the occasion quickly acknowledged it was not easy to launch a book after Chidi has (had) launched it.”

“Two failed banks chiefs get bail” Towards a better use of language: bank chiefs.   The plurality of ‘banks’ had been taken care of by ‘chiefs’, in line with syntactic sequence.

“Lagos NURTW swims in fresh crisis: “Olohunwa, Oluoma in free-for-all fight” (Encomium WEEKLY Front Page Headline, May 10) Yank off ‘fight’ to avert calamitous redundancy.

A critique of the critic: last week an error of the keyboard crept into this column. Instead of “dialectal”, we had “dialectical” in one of the passages! Thanks to the reader who pointed this out. This is an unreserved apology to my teeming readers. More reactions are welcome.

People2People… with Oke Epia

Telephone (sms only): 07059850016 Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @resourceme

2019: Neither APC nor PDP but…


adam Oby Ezekwesili, the irrepressible and unrelenting advocate for the public good who has imposed on herself the thankless job of being one of Nigeria’s public conscience, has kick-started a potentially disruptive campaign on social media. The hash tag #RedCardMovement which is already gaining steam on Twitter promises to be politically penetrating as the 2019 elections approach. The stage is getting set for another round of social media politicking not unlike like the case with the last election circle where the virtual space proved to be the springboard that propelled slingshots of soft power that greatly aided the fall of an incumbent from power.

An integral component of the budding movement which will attract a series of pieces in this column relates to the suggestion that neither the All Progressives Congress (APC) nor the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is fit to be trusted with power in 2019. Thus the associated hash tag, #RedCardToAPCAndPDP, is also in the mix of the campaign fast spreading online. The premise that the two most prominent political parties have bungled the goodwill and trust of Nigerians and so can no longer be trusted to benefit from further electoral mandates is quite understandable. This position is likely to gain popularity among millions of distraught and disenchanted Nigerians who gleefully voted out the PDP in 2015 without knowing that they were as much as installing another side of same coin in office. Events which have unfolded in the last two years confirm that voters only succeeded in propping up an equally clueless and rapacious wing of the political elite class, which once embedded in power, carried on with unrelenting torment of citizens and a brazen blaze of self-aggrandizement. Those who dreamt that taking out the PDP which ruled for an unbroken 16 years would open up the country to Eldorado where milk and honey would flow on the streets of Lagos and Daura; that one naira would exchange for one US dollar; that petrol would sell for forty naira per litre; and that millions of jobs would be created to banish unemployment into history, have been starkly disappointed. And those who sold such fairytales as gospel truths to naïve and impressionable minds have been unraveled for who they truly are. As has now become evident, it was a clearly misplaced fantasy to expect the likes of Nasir el-Rufai, Rotimi Amaechi, Samuel Ortom, Timipre Sylva, and Bukola Saraki, among a host of others, who were politically empowered in the last 16 years of PDP ‘misrule’ to suddenly behave differently simply because they exited the mutilated cover of the umbrella and embraced the smithereens of a tenuous change mantra. The gladiators needed an alternative platform to actualize a common aspiration to kick Goodluck Jonathan out of power and APC proved to be the veritable tool for that; nothing close to a binding ideology to deliver good governance and gains of democracy to the masses held them together. So once they gained power, the spoils of office was the next bone of contention and once the sharing formula and pattern for this proved disadvantageous, a new scuffle was bound to ensue. And this would in turn, result in a natural implosion which is one way or the other now benefitting the PDP. This is why Atiku Abubakar who anchored the ‘New PDP’ rebellion that crumbled the PDP is now back to the fold after having been served with the short end of the stick in the APC. But the former vice president retains some respect on account of his courageous and relentless battles against the onslaught of his boss at the time, President Olusegun Obasanjo, who sought to emasculate him after both men fell apart in the second term of that presidency. Atiku’s several judicial travails at the time contributed significantly in strengthening Nigeria’s political jurisprudence. While we are likely to see more defections back and forth; and in and out of the APC and PDP respectively, some of those who masqueraded as messianic redeemers of our collective destiny in the former are busy re-packaging a new set of lies, half-truths and propaganda to entice the gullible for votes in 2019.

Unfortunately, the disappointing outing of the APC in government over the last two years has condemned it to an early verdict of failure. The ruling party is now head-to-head in comparison on Governance Deficiency Syndrome (GDS) with the party it displaced from federal power in the 2015 general elections. To compound its budding record of negative ratings, the APC has manifested a disturbing level of internal contradictions, political arrogance, insensitivity and other improprieties like the party it replaced in power. Or how do you explain its failure to hold regular National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings or convene a national convention as dictated by its own laws; or even put in place critical organs like a Board of Trustees (BOT)? A party that cannot as much as comply with its own rules can hardly be trusted to govern satisfactorily. That is why its national chairman will come out openly to deny the presidency it controls over the embarrassingly distasteful nomination of dead men into government boards and parastatals. Nobody expects the APC to be free from internal contradictions- after all the circumstance of its formation was enough pointer to this eventuality. But one would have expected it to learn from the mistakes of the PDP and not repeat or out-perform them. With no clearly defined ideology which it amply made up for with hifalutin campaign promises it knew it would not keep, the ruling party is bumping on the same failures it brandished to heckle the PDP from power. Now the chickens have come home to roost.

The scales have fallen from the eyes of Nigerians to reveal forlorn faces of agony and hardship. The hailstones of economic downturn are falling on both the poor and the rich; the privileged and under-privileged; and many cases of both reported and unreported suicides are becoming the order of the day. Champions and amplifiers of the packaged lies and propaganda have retreated into regret and shedding crocodile tears on Twitter and Facebook. Hailers are fast transforming into wailers at the speed of light and unsolicited memos have started to fly and up and down on the pages of newspapers and popular blogs. In the light of this, should the PDP be the option in 2019? Although the opposition party is currently parading itself as the viable option it has also failed to properly reposition and take advantage of the failings of its successor. The party has failed to take the take the opportunity of its defeat in 2015 to rebrand and open up to new thinking; like the leopard that cannot change its skin, the PDP is still stuck in its old ways where internal democracy and a genuine opening of its space to fresh, young and vibrant minds that seek participation in the political process is a rhetoric rather than a reality.

But in pushing aside the twin evils of Nigeria’s election-winning machines, what viable options are available to citizens? What alternative is Madam Ezekwesili and her co-travellers offering? Is the polity going to witness the emergence of a third force that will seize the space and confine the APC and PDP to the dressing room of political oblivion? This is why the #RedCardMovement should not be dismissed with a wave of the hand; careful attention should be paid to what the former minister and others of her ilk are contriving for 2019. But whatever is brewing is not certainly going to be a tea party. 

––Epia, Publisher of OrderPaper NG, tweets @resourceme.

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