"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Touchscreen, not Screen touch, number plate, not plate number: Nigerian English Q and A

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

1. Question:
Is it “screen touch” or “touch screen?

Answer:
Until I received this question I was never aware that Nigerians call touch screens “screen touch.” Your question prompted me to search “screen touch” on search engines and on such social media networks as Facebook and Twitter. I found the phrase only on Nigerian-themed websites and by Nigerian social media handles.

The use of “screen touch” in place of “touch screen” is an example of a kind of error linguists call lexical metathesis or spoonerism; it is a kind of slip of the tongue in which the usual positions of words in a sentence are transposed. Another common lexical metathesis in Nigerian English is the tendency for Nigerians to say “plate number” instead of the standard “number plate,” which is the British English term for vehicle registration plate—or what American English speakers call license plate.

2. Question:
Is the word “gateman” Standard English? Or is it a Nigerian English word?

Answer:
It isn't a uniquely Nigerian English word, but native speakers, at least in America, rarely use it now. Doorman is the commonly used word for what Nigerians know as gateman. Other gender-neutral alternatives are "door guard," "gatekeeper," "doorkeeper," "porter," "ostiary," etc.

3. Question:
I watched a video of an American senator called Graham saying "and y'all both know that". I was puzzled as to how he used 'y'all + both'.  Kindly please say something about this.

Answer:
"Y'all," which started as a southernism (i.e., English usage peculiar to southern United States), is now used outside the South as a stand-in for the plural form of "you," which does not exist in Standard English. In contemporary Standard English, "you" doesn't change form whether it is singular or plural. People increasingly have a need to lexically differentiate between singular "you" and plural "you," and that's why "y'all" or "y'alls" is becoming popular. In old English, "ye" functioned as the plural form of "you," but it's lost now, except in low-prestige dialects of the language in Newfoundland, Northern England, Cornwall, and Ireland.

4. Question:
"This is to confirm that the above named has been offered Provisional admission into [name of university] in 2015/2016 Academic Session. The Candidate has been admitted to read: Doctor
of Human Medicine 100 level in the Faculty/College/School of College of Health Sciences." Sir, I quoted this from the letter of confirmation of admission I received. But a friend of mine said, "The candidate has been admitted to study" is more appropriate than "to read".  Is he right?

Answer:
He is wrong. In British English, it is usual and perfectly permissible to use “read” to indicate the act of being a student at a university—or at any higher education institution. I typed “admitted to read” on Oxford University’s website and came across several matches, including this: “The number of undergraduates admitted to read Chemistry at Pembroke over the last few years has typically been around six per year.” A recent obituary in the UK Telegraph also contains the following: “After leaving school, she was admitted to read Chemistry at London University…”

American English speakers, however, don’t use “read” in the way British English speakers do. In America you are “admitted to study” a course, not to “read a course.” Maybe that is what your friend was hinting at. However, since British English is the standard that Nigerians privilege and emulate, I don’t understand why your friend thinks “read a course” is wrong.

5. Question:
Recently, I said “say me well to your wife” to a friend of mine, but he laughed at me. When I asked why he laughed, he said you once wrote that the expression was wrong. But isn’t “say me well to…” an American English expression? Please clarify.

Answer:
First, I think it’s impolite to laugh at people because you think they’ve committed an error in speech. And, no, “say me well” is not an American English expression. Here is what I wrote in my November 11, 2012 article titled “Top 10 Peculiar salutations in Nigerian English (I)”:

“1. ‘Say me well to him/her/your family,’ etc. Nigerians use this ungainly verbalism when they want to send expressions of good will to someone through another person. This uniquely Nigerian English expression would be puzzling to native speakers of the English language because it is structurally awkward, grammatically incorrect, and unidiomatic. I have no earthly idea how it emerged in Nigerian English. But it certainly isn’t a British English archaism or a literal translation from native Nigerian languages, nor is it Biblical English or a distortion of contemporary British or American English—four of the dominant sources of Nigerian English that I have identified in earlier write-ups here.

“Whatever it is, the expression has attained idiomatic status in Nigerian English and should probably be patented and exported to other parts of the English-speaking world as Nigerian linguistic invention in English.

“Some examples of fixed phrases that native English speakers use to express the same sense Nigerian English speakers convey when they say ‘say me well to…’ are ‘give my hello to him/her,’ ‘tell him/her I said hi,’ ‘give him/her/your family my (warm) regards,’ ‘give him/her my best wishes,’ ‘say hello to him/her for me,’ etc.”

6. Question:
Distinct people still spell that name as "Mohammed” or “Muhammad,” or “Mohamed," yet they are all referring to the same person in their write-ups. I am not even talking about Muhammadu Buhari. I mean the prophet. Does it mean they're not talking of the same man when they choose any of the variants? Usually abused by non-Muslims?

Answer:
Well, it's because they are all using Roman orthography to write a name that is originally Arabic. Every time you use a different orthography to spell a name that was originally written in a different orthographic tradition, you often have several variants. It's normal. Names originally written in Latin alphabets also have different variants when they are written using different scripts such as Arabic, Cyrillic, Chinese, Thai, etc.

Having said that, it helps to note that, over the years, “Muhammad” has emerged as the preferred rendition of the name in English. Even in the Oxford English Dictionary the name is written as Muhammad. Much older variants like Mahound or Mahomet are now considered offensive and are avoided by careful writers, except when references to the dim and distant past (when the variants were in vogue) are inevitable.

7. Question:
Is it in appropriate to say "please make sure" in a formal letter? I wrote a letter to my principal asking him to provide reagents for practical examinations, but when I said "please make sure you provide the actual reagent listed above" he was annoyed and said I wrote in a commanding tone. Is it true? I thought the “please” in my sentence suggests politeness.

Answer:
Saying "make sure" to your superior is inappropriate, even imperious. That's the language adults use when they talk to children. It's a command, not a polite request. You could have written something like, "Please provide the reagents listed above."


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Politics of Grammar Column

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Abba Kyari’s Cowardly SLAPP against the Punch over Alleged Scam

By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D.

In American media law, SLAPP is an acronym for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” It’s a type of frivolous lawsuit whose ultimate goal is to intimidate critics—particularly journalists—into silence and self-censorship, not necessarily to seek redress for intentional injury to reputation.

The threat by Abba Kyari, President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, to sue the Punch newspaper and “all those who have peddled this falsehood” of his alleged swindling of his townsman by the name of Bako Waziri Kyari is a classic SLAPP. Kyari wants to cower people into silence and muzzle public conversation about an issue that has tickled the sensation of vast swathes of Nigerians.

I am teaching a media law class this semester, and Kyari’s potential lawsuit was a subject of class discussion this week. Every student in my class agreed that Kyari’s imminent lawsuit is a prototypic SLAPP. I divided the class into groups and instructed them to deploy the media law concepts I taught them to evaluate the possible legal arguments Kyari would advance in his lawsuit. In order to do this, they read up on the scandal, searched Kyari’s name on Google and came up with troves of information about his unflattering ethical profile.

This was their conclusion: There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that Abba Kyari will win a libel lawsuit against the news media in a fair and just court trial anywhere in the world. (American courts frown at SLAPPs, and many states have enacted anti-SLAPP legislation). Although Nigeria is not America, our media laws closely mirror—and are, in fact, directly borrowed from—those of America.

For starters, Kyari is a public official whose conduct—both in public and in private—the public is justified to be inquisitive about and to scrutinize. Being a public official comes with a lot of perquisites and privileges, including being in the public consciousness, being able to influence the direction of national conversations, and having the symbolic resources to counter or at least respond to injurious information.

In recognition of the influence and power that public officials—and public figures—wield, courts impose a higher burden of proof on them to prove a case of libel against the media and the public. What would be libelous if written about a private figure isn’t libelous if written about a public official.

If I falsely accuse a no-name private person of swindling his nephew of 30 million naira, no news organization would attend the person’s press conference or publish his or her press release refuting this because they have no social or symbolic capital. But the Presidency issued a denial less than 24 hours after the Punch published the story of Abba Kyari’s alleged fleecing of his townsman, and every news organization published it. His threat to sue “all those who have peddled this falsehood” is also all over the media. That’s a lot of power.

Here’s another reason why Kyari’s impending lawsuit is a SLAPP: Punch’s reporting on the scandal isn’t new. News of the scandal actually started on Brekete Family Radio, then dispersed to social media before becoming grist for the mill in quotidian social chatter offline. Why did Kyari threaten to sue “all those who have peddled this falsehood” ONLY after Punch published the story—and weeks after it has been in the public domain? That’s the first giveaway that his threat is a cowardly SLAPP.

The second giveaway, as all my students pointed out, is that Punch’s reporting on the scandal was scrupulously fair and balanced. The paper reached out to Kyari, reflected all sides to the story, and didn’t take a stand. The paper’s reporting meets the requirements of what is called “fair report privilege” in media law, which is, according to Robert Trager, Susan Ross, and Amy Reynolds in their book The Law of Journalism and Mass Communication, “based on the idea that keeping citizens informed about matters of public concern is sometimes more important than avoiding occasional damage to individual reputations. It gives reporters some breathing room to report on official government conduct without having to first prove the truth of what the government says.”

That means even if there are factual inaccuracies in the paper’s report, it enjoys the protection of the law, particularly because it clearly made good-faith efforts to get Abba Kyari’s side of the story.
Most importantly, though, Abba Kyari has almost reached the status of what in media law we call a “libel-proof plaintiff,” that is, someone whose reputation is already so thoroughly damaged that no libelous statement can damage it further. Recall that Sahara Reporters has reported that Kyari took a 500 million naira bribe from MTN to help minimize the more than one trillion naira fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commissions (NCC). Kyari has never denied this allegation, nor has he sued Sahara Reporters.

Silence is consent, and most people believe that the story is true. There are several other uncomplimentary stories about the man in the public domain that border on unrelieved moral putrefaction and deficiency of basic ethical character, which he has never refuted. It is precisely these considerations that make his melodramatic reaction to the latest scandal and his threat to issue the news media a gutless SLAPP.

A competent and just judge would dismiss Kyari’s lawsuit as a waste of the court’s time. The judge would probably remind Kyari of the Latin legal maxim de minimis no curat lex, which means, “the law does not concern itself with trifles.”

A Tear for DSP Tijani Bulama
While it seems like Bako Waziri Kyari was the victim of a 419 scam, it’s hard to explain the unspeakable horrors that one DSP Tijani Bulama who tried to help Bako Waziri Kyari to recover his money was subjected to. After losing my wife in 2010 and my dad in 2016, I thought I had lost the capacity to cry over anything again. But after watching the viral video of the “Brekete Family” program of August 31, 2018 where Bulami told how he was physically brutalized and mentally assaulted, I lost it.

Tears started rolling down my cheeks uncontrollably when he narrated how hooded DSS operatives invaded his home, slammed his two-year-old child on the ground, and whisked him away blindfolded and without shoes for more than a month. In Nigeria, men are culturally socialized to be stoic, to not betray emotions, to not cry in public. This is even more so for law enforcement officers who are trained to be tough and stern. But Bulama, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, broke down in tears at various points in his recapitulation of the horrendous jungle justice DSS operatives inflicted on him allegedly on the orders of Abba Kyari whom he said physically visited him in his cell to sadistically mock him for having the effrontery to investigate him. That’s out-and-out soulless villainy!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Re: Ilorin is an Ethnogenesis: Response to Kawu’s anti-Saraki Ilorin purism

What follows is a response to my two-part series on the Ilorin identity and the place of the Sarakis in it. The author advances the same sadly familiar reductionist and nativistic arguments that seek to police the boundaries of the Ilorin identity and exclude people who fall outside these inflexible, arbitrary, and reactionary boundaries. But the author’s arguments are worth chewing over nonetheless.

By Zakariyau Sambo
This piece is not against your write up because I, as a History teacher, agree with the historical facts you presented. It is not also in support of the said diatribe of Ishaq Modibbo Kawu because I am not obliged to do so in any ramification. The piece rather tries to clarify some of the analysis and interpretations which your piece raised as shall soon be explained.

To start with, I do not know whether you are conversant with the fact that many Ilorin indigenes have been, from time to time, questioning both Senator Bukola Saraki and his father’s claim to Ilorin origins in the print, electronic and social media due to some obvious reasons excluding politics. Prominent among such people is Alhaji A. G. F. Abdulrasaq (SAN), the fist legal practitioner in northern Nigeria. Therefore, I am very inquisitive on why you choose to only isolate and treat Kawu’s said questioning ignoring those of others that had come earlier.

Let me begin by some historical facts which you rightly highlighted. According to you, “the Ilorin identity is the product of the fusion of Yoruba, Fulani, Hausa, Baatonu (Bariba), Kanuri, Nupe, Gwari, and Gobir ethnicities and influences. The Yoruba language is the linguistic glue of this fascinating ethnic commixture, and Islam is its religious glue.” This highlight is very valid especially if we consider past developments in Ilorin. That also means that the Ilorin identity product is dynamic and not static. However, to just reduce Ilorin and how it became an ethnogeny to past developments is to be far away from reality. This is particularly true since History interplays between the past and the present which may likely determine and influence the future. That is why it is very inadequate to just use or largely use the parameters of the past to interpret the recent. Both the past and the present go hand in hand.

If we must explain the reason why the claims of origins and identity of the Sarakis remain suspicious and controversial we must not only trace their history which was birthed in the past (I personally never have issues with that) but also reveal what is happening in the present. The situation with the Saraki family, as far as identifying with Ilorin is concerned, remains an aberration. In contemporary Ilorin, the Sarakis have refused to integrate, entrench and sustain Islam and Ilorin Islamic cultures into their family to keep their Ilorin origins and identity going. This abnormality in their households has been the signature of both the father and the son. A vivid case in point, among many others, is the society wedding celebrations of Senator Bukola Saraki’s daughter this year. I, like many other Ilorin people, were mystified by the strange and unfamiliar nature of the wedding celebrations. The celebrations did not conform to the Islamic identity and norms and traditions of the people of Ilorin. In fact some of the activities were a contradiction of our religion and culture.

The argument here is that no Ilorin son or daughter worthy of his/her salt will shy away from Islam and the various Islamic cultures his or her parents bequeathed on him/her. I want to believe that this is what many Ilorin people like Kawu and I are interrogating about the Sarakis and their claims to Ilorin origins. We are not just Ilorin people because our grandparents were; we are so because we sustain Islam and integrate ourselves into Ilorin Islamic cultures.

As you also further try to prove that Ilorin people’s identity can be found in their Yoruba names, I find it quite difficult to agree with your assertion that, “I know of no Ilorin person, whatever his or her ancestral provenance may be, who does not have a Yoruba given name.” This assertion of yours is true only to an extent. The fact that virtually all Ilorin persons bear Yoruba names does not mean that they bear all kinds of Yoruba names. In other words, the kind of Yoruba name you bear can make you become an “alien” in Ilorin. For instance, Ilorin people do not bear Yoruba names that have affinity with Yoruba gods and deities. That is why an Ilorin  person will never bear popular Yoruba names  like Aborishade, Fashola, Adeosun etc.

Apart from bearing names that have affinity with Yoruba gods and deities, the Yoruba also bear names that emanate from Oluwa, the God Almighty. Olusola, Olufemi and Olukayode etc. are examples of such. In Ilorin Yoruba, God Almighty is referred to as Olohun and not Oluwa. The explanation of why this is so was given by late Shaikh Muhammad Kamaldeen Al-Adabiy in the Yoruba Qur’an translation himself and others wrote at the instance of the Saudi Arabian authorities. Therefore, it is very strange for people to bear “Olu” names in Ilorin. This is not simplistic and ahistorical as you claim. It rather explains the dynamics in the evolution of Ilorin identity.  In addition to this, many people (including some Yoruba) that are not from Ilorin use to confuse names like Idiagbon, Alanamu, Oniyangi, Aluko etc. to mean Yoruba proper names. In actual fact these kind of names, though Yoruba, are names of family compounds/areas in Ilorin that people bear.

For someone’s claim of Ilorin origin to be non-controversial you just don’t rely on enormous emotional investment in your Ilorin identity and you just don’t self-identify yourself as an Ilorin person. I dare say, obvious of the risk of being called out to have committed a crime, that you have to do much more. You have to conform to the religion, norms and traditions of Ilorin. You also have to integrate yourself to the Ilorin society both in practical and functional forms.

Sambo wrote from the Department of History, Usmanu Danfodiyo University,
Sokoto and can be reached at zakarysambo@gmail.com


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Nigerian English Words You Won’t Find in Any Modern Dictionary

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Nigerian English is filled with words that are either exclusively invented by Nigerian English speakers or that are retained from long forgotten archaic British English. These qualities, that is, lexical invention and archaism, ensure that the words can’t be found in any modern English dictionary.  Here are 13 of them:


1. “Disvirgin.” As I’ve pointed out in previous articles, you will never find “disvirgin” in any dictionary apart from Wikitionary, a dictionary that anyone can contribute to and edit. It is an entirely Nigerian English invention. No other variety of English in the world uses the word, except perhaps Ghanaian English, which shares many similarities with Nigerian English. Native English speakers use “deflower” to mean “deprive of virginity,” although it’s now unusual to hear native speakers use the word in everyday conversations because of cultural shifts in gender relations.

A rarely used alternative to “deflower” is “devirginate.” The word is so rare that many reputable English dictionaries don’t have an entry for it. For instance, it doesn’t appear in the most current edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English. In all the years I’ve lived among native English speakers, I’ve never heard anyone use it. 

2. “Opportuned.” Like “disvirgin,” this word does not exist in any English dictionary. It is an entirely Nigerian English word that was formed in ignorance. What exists in English dictionaries is “opportune,” without “d” at the end. Opportune means “timely” or “well-timed.” E.g. “Wait for an opportune moment to tell him how you really feel.” In Nigerian English, we use “opportuned” where “privileged” is the appropriate word to use. Where we would say, “I am opportuned to speak to this august gathering,” other English speakers would say, “I am privileged to speak to this august gathering.”

3. “Rearer.” In Nigerian English, this word almost always collocates with “cattle,” as in: “cattle rearer.” I have never heard anyone described to as a “goat rearer” or a “sheep rearer” in Nigeria, perhaps because Nigerians don’t raise goats and sheep in as large numbers as they raise cattle. In the last three years or so, however, “rearer” has been replaced with “herdsmen.” Almost no Nigerian now says “cattle rearer,” but when I first pointed out the oddity of the word years ago, most Nigerians used it.

 The first hint that “rearer” is an unusual word comes from Microsoft Word, which disfigures the word with its cheeky red underline to indicate that the word is not in its internal dictionary. But Microsoft is not always a reliable measure of a word’s acceptability. First, its word bank is severely limited, especially for academics like me who use “big,” unusual, and sesquipedalian vocabularies in our academic writing. Second, it has a notoriously pro-American bias in its linguistic idiosyncrasies, especially if your computer is bought in America.

It turns, however, that “rearer” is actually an old-fashioned or obsolescent British English word. When I searched for it on Google years ago, I found that it appeared only on Nigerian, Indian, and British Guyanese themed websites. I found no contemporary use of the term in British newspapers. Nor did I find it in American, Canadian, Australian, or New Zealand websites. So I searched for “herder,” the term I’ve heard native speakers use for what Nigerians used to call “rearer” and found millions of contemporary uses of the term in British and American news media websites. I modified the search to “cattle herder,” and my keywords yielded over 3 million matches. But a search for “cattle rearer” turned up only a little over 66,000 matches, mostly from the websites of former British colonies.

It is obvious, based on the foregoing, that “rearer” is an archaic British English word that has been replaced with “herder.” However, as is often the case, people on the periphery of the development of a language (such as Nigerian English speakers) are usually the last to catch on to new vocabularies, semantic shifts, and novel usage patterns that occur in the center of development of a language. Surprisingly, Nigerians appear to have caught on now.

4. “Convocate.” This is an archaic and rare word that you won’t find in most modern dictionaries. Its modern form is “convoke.” But the verb of choice in Nigerian English for the convening of the formal ceremony for the award of degrees is “convocate,” as in: “our school convocated last Saturday.” Native speakers don’t even use “convoke,” the modern alternative to “convocate,” in that sense. They simply say something like, “Our school had a convocation last Saturday.” Convoke is often used in relation to formal meetings or gatherings, as in: convoke a conference or convoke a meeting of the National Assembly/the Federal Executive Council, etc.

5. “Gisted.” The verb form of this word is not known to any other variety of English outside Nigerian English. Native speakers say “chitchat” where Nigerians say “gist.” In Standard English, gist is usually a noun that means the central idea of a conversation, a speech, an argument, etc., as in: “what is the gist of the president’s long broadcast?” Gist is never used as a verb in Standard English, and it has not the remotest semantic connection with light informal conversations.

6. “Detribalized.” Nigerians use this word as an adjective of approval for someone who isn’t wedded to narrow ethnic or communal allegiances; it describes a person who is nationalist, cosmopolitan, liberal, progressive, and broadminded. But that’s not the way native English speakers understand and use the word. “Detribalized” as an adjective is a uniquely Nigerian invention.

“Detribalize” exists as a verb in Standard English. To “detribalize,” according to the Oxford Dictionary of English, is to “remove (someone) from a traditional tribal social structure.” In Australia, for instance, English settlers forcefully took away children from their parents and took them to white foster homes to “detribalize” them, in other words, to take the “tribe” out of them, to “civilize” them. That program was called “detribalization.” It arose out of the notion that “tribes” are a collection of savages that need to be civilized—or “detribalized.”

This is the usage advice that the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary gives on the use of the word tribe: “In historical contexts the word tribe is broadly accepted (the area was inhabited by Slavic tribes), but in contemporary contexts it is problematic when used to a community living within a traditional society. It is strongly associated with past attitudes of white colonialists towards so-called primitive or uncivilized peoples living in remote underdeveloped places. For this reason it is generally preferable to use alternative terms such as community or people.”

I have written at least five previous articles in the past years calling attention to the impropriety of calling modern people anywhere “tribes.” It is racist and ignorant.

7. “Jealousing." I have heard many young Nigerians say something like, “she is jealousing me because of my success.” I thought this unusually nonstandard usage of “jealous” was confined to Nigerian Pidgin English until I heard supposedly educated young Nigerians use it. Well, jealous has no verb form in any dictionary.

8. “Instalmentally.” This is a uniquely Nigerian English word. In Standard English, installment—or “instalment” if you prefer British spelling—does not take the “ly” form when it’s used as an adverb of manner. Its adverbial form is “in installments.” So it is, “I will pay for my laptop in installments,” not “I will pay for my laptop installmentally.”

9. “Talkless.” As I wrote a few weeks ago, no such word exists in any English dictionary.

10. “Goodluck.” You won’t find this word in any dictionary. What you’ll find is “good luck.” The rise of Goodluck Jonathan to the Nigerian presidency caused Nigerians to spell “good luck” as “goodluck.”

11. “Trafficate.” This is a Nigerian English backformation from “trafficator,” itself an archaic British English word formed from a blend of “traffic” and “indicator.” Native speakers say “indicate” or “signal” where Nigerians say “trafficate,” and “indicator” or “turn signal” where Nigerians say “trafficator.”

12. “Overspeeding.” This is not a uniquely Nigerian English word. Indians, Pakistanis, and other English-speaking Asians use it where native English speakers simply say “speeding.” Overspeeding is obviously archaic British English, which explains why most modern dictionaries have no entry for it.

13. “Confusionist.” In Nigerian English, this means one who causes confusion. Native English speakers would find that meaning strange and unrecognizable. The word does not exist in most dictionaries. Wherever it exists, it’s used as an alternative spelling of Confucianist, that is, a believer in the teachings of Confucius. 

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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Trump, Buhari, Xenophilia and “Lifeless” “Integrity”

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

President Muhammadu Buhari’s supporters are frothing at the mouth with impotent rage because the Financial Times reported President Donald Trump to have told his aides “he never wanted to meet someone so lifeless” like Buhari again.

The same Buhari supporters who are calling attention to Trump’s moral foibles and erratic personality to impeach the validity of his opinion on Buhari actually praised Trump and even affectionately called him “Baba Trump” (à la “Baba Buhari”) when Buhari’s social media aide by the name of Lauretta Onochie fabricated a transparently fake and hilariously error-ridden quote of Trump putatively praising Buhari’s “integrity” and “anti-corruption” fight.

"I stand with you the number one African president,” the fake Onochie-generated quote reported Trump to have said of Buhari in private. “I support you my fellow president. Your integrity is second to none. I am at your back [sic] in spirit, physical and in faith [sic]. Go on with your anti corruption [sic] fight against crooks in your country. I support you President Muhammadu Buhari. God is also with you."

In my May 13, 2018 grammar column titled “Nigerian and American English Clash in Fake Pro-Buhari Trump Quotes,” I showed that the quote was decidedly fictitious, but Buharists insisted it was real and said I dismissed it as fake because I “hate” Buhari and couldn’t live with the fact that Trump thought highly of Buhari.

Buhari’s media aides also bragged on social media about Buhari being the “first African president” to be invited to the Trump White House—as if being invited to the White House was anything other than a mere self-interested, strategic diplomatic courtesy on the part of the Trump White House. (Egypt’s president was actually the first African president invited to the White House).

So the Buhari media team—and the president’s supporters— set themselves up for the anger and letdown they feel over Trump’s admittedly unkind dig at Buhari. It's hypocritical to exult in Trump’s putative praises and approval of Buhari and then turn around to insult the same Trump for his opinion on Buhari that ruptures your presumptions.

If you so desperately desired the approval of Trump that you felt obligated to intentionally cook up fake quotes and attribute them to him in order to shore up notions of the “integrity” of Buhari, you can’t dismiss the selfsame Trump’s condemnation of Buhari as inconsequential and not come across as laughably infantile in your hypocrisy. It cuts both ways: if you think Trump’s positive opinion of Buhari is worthy, his negative opinion of Buhari can’t be worthless.

At any rate, what Trump said about Buhari isn’t fresh information. By “lifeless,” Trump meant Buhari was dreary, laidback, lacking in enthusiasm, passion, and energy. This is consistent with what I wrote in my column of May 5, 2018 titled “Buhari’s American Visit: The High and Low Points.”

 "My guess is that Buhari was tongue-tied with excessive restraint because he was overly scripted,” I wrote. “He appeared to be intimidated by Trump who has a reputation for antagonistic brusqueness. Buhari probably also didn’t want to risk being publicly tongue-lashed and humiliated by Trump, so he towed the line of least resistance by being unnaturally meek.” That’s many words to convey the sense that he was “lifeless.”

 But why does what Trump say about Buhari matter? Buhari is the president of a sovereign country like Trump is. What Trump thinks of another president is irrelevant, particularly because the lone person Trump thinks highly of is Trump. The only reason this is a subject of national conversation is that we are hostages to what I have called xenophilia, that is, the irrational, unjustified, inferiority-driven love for the foreign and a corresponding sense of low national self-worth.

Buhari, for instance, is an unapologetic Anglophile. When he won election in 2015, the first place he flew to was England. It’s also where all his children went to school. It’s where he goes to treat even his littlest ailments “since 1978 when I was in Petroleum,” according to a transcript of his interaction with Nigerians in London, as reported by the Punch of February 6, 2016.

The Amerophilia of the late Umar Musa Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan were also noteworthy. When Yar’adua was elected president, he visited America and told George Bush that his visit to the White House was “a rare opportunity” and a “moment that I will never forget in my life.” I know of no elected president of a sovereign country who ever said that to another elected president.

When Jonathan was made acting president in 2010, he sought a stamp of legitimacy for his acting presidency by visiting America. He also gave more weight to the empty diplomatic compliments of Obama than he did to the genuine feelings of the people he governed—just like Buhari and his supporters who are always fishing for endorsements of Buhari’s “integrity” in foreign soils. The Vanguard of September 26, 2011, for instance, reported Jonathan as saying “I just got back from the US. The President of America is like the president of the world because it is the most powerful country…. Obama, when he spoke, commended Nigeria but back home we are being abused.”

As I pointed out in my March 23, 2013 article titled, “State Pardon: 5 Reasons Jonathan Can’t Appeal to Sovereignty,” “all post-independence Nigerian governments, with the exception of the late General Murtala Muhammed military regime, actively and slavishly seek the approval of Washington almost as a state policy.”

And I said of former president Goodluck Jonathan on March 23, 2013 that, “He accords more value to the empty extolments of the White House than he does to the genuine judgment of his administration by the people who elected him.” This is also true of Buhari.

You can’t go to another country to invoke the social and symbolic basis of your legitimacy—and even tout invitation to the country as a badge of honor and as a bragging right— and turn around to accuse that same country of insulting your president or of undermining your sovereignty when it tells you something you don’t want to hear.

When Samuel Johnson, the self-taught pioneer of English lexicography, said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” he had in mind people like butthurt Buhari supporters who are lashing out at Trump and proclaiming empty patriotism.

Johnson’s statement, made on April 7, 1775, wasn’t a denunciation of patriotism as such; it was only a critique of false patriotism, of opportunistic, politically convenient patriotism, such as the kind being displayed now in the wake of Trump’s reported gibe at Buhari. If you believed Trump’s judgement that Buhari has “integrity” (even though he actually never said that) you should have no difficulty believing his description of him as “lifeless” (which he probably also didn’t say).

Sunday, August 26, 2018

It’s “Academic,” not “Academician” Q and A on Nigerian English Errors and Usage

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Although many Nigerians, including Professor Wole Soyinka, use “academicians” and “academics” interchangeably, they are in error. Find out why in today’s Q and A. Also find the difference between a “house” and a “home,” between the expressions “it’s me” and “it’s I,” and other usage questions.



Question:
What is the difference between an “academic” and an “academician”? I see both words used interchangeably in Nigerian English.

Answer:
Let me answer you this way: you will probably never have a reason to use the word “academician” if you speak or write Standard English. Most people who use “academician” are either non-native English speakers or uneducated native English speakers.

So what is the difference between an “academician” and an “academic”? Well, an “academic” is someone who teaches or conducts research in a higher education institution, typically in a university. In British and Nigerian English, academics are also called “lecturers.” In American English, they are called “professors.”

 An “academician,” on the other hand, is a person who works with or is honored with membership into an academy, that is, an institution devoted to the study and advancement of a specialized area of learning such as the arts, sciences, literature, medicine, music, engineering, etc. Examples of academies are the Nigerian Academy of Letters, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, etc.

Not all academics are academicians and not all academicians are academics. In other words, you can teach in a university, polytechnic, college of education, etc. and never be made a member of an academy, and you can become a member of an academy without ever being a teacher or a researcher at a higher educational institution. I know a number of academicians who don’t teach or conduct research at a higher ed. institution. Note that while most academicians are also academics, most academics are never academicians.

A little note on pragmatics is in order here. Although many dictionaries have entries that say “academician” and “academic” can be synonymous, this isn’t really the case in actual usage, at least among educated native English speakers. It is considered illiterate usage in British and American English to call higher education teachers and researchers “academicians”; they are properly called “academics.” Many dictionaries merely capture the entire range of a word’s usage without discriminating socially prestigious usage from uneducated or archaic usage.

That is why I was disappointed when Professor Wole Soyinka used “academician” as if it meant “academic” in a 1971 newspaper article. In the article, he wrote: “What I would have expected of an academician was the advocation [sic, “advocation” is an archaic variant of “advocacy”] of a social system whereby the life of a decent [living] was guaranteed and the benevolent patronage of the privileged groups was eradicated for all time.

“Dr Isong’s cry if any should be directed against a social system which binds both him and his dependants in a vice of mutual degradation and limits his freedom of action and development by denying him equality in his association with all the potential inherent in every class of society” (quoted in James Gibbs and Bernith Lindfors (1993), Research on Wole Soyinka, pp. 243-244).

Dr. A. J.  Isong, whom Soyinka called an “academician,” wasn’t a member of an academy; he was an “academic,” that is, a lecturer, at the University of Ibadan. I think it helps to point out that “academic” is derived from “academia” (pronounced aki/deemia) or “academe” (pronounced aki/deem), which means a place of (higher) learning such as a university or, as the Online Etymology Dictionary puts it, “the world of universities and scholarship.” “Academician,” on the other hand, is derived from “academy” (pronounced as “aka-demi”), which is an institution dedicated to the pursuit of advancement in a narrowly defined field of knowledge.

Henry Watson Fowler, the famous English lexicographer who wrote A Dictionary of Modern English Usage and co-wrote the Concise Oxford Dictionary, pointed out that although Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Lowell used “academe” as a poetic variant of “academy,” it is a mistake do so in conventional usage.

In sum, don’t call anybody an “academician” if the person doesn’t work in an academy. It’s actually rare to come across an academician. That’s why I said earlier that you will probably never have a reason to use the word—if you want to use it correctly, that is.

Question:
I am a regular reader of your columns in the Daily Trust on Sunday.  My question to you is do "house" and "home” mean the same thing or are they different?

Answer:
A “house” is merely a building where someone lives while a “home” is a house we have an emotional attachment to. It is the sense of comfort and emotional connection we feel toward a house that makes it a home. You build a house and make it a home by occupying it and filling it with memories. So a house is the building, the structure, the concrete, etc. while a home is a combination of the building and the emotions, memories, sense of belonging, and comfort that we bring to the house.

While this distinction is generally true, it is worth noting that American English speakers, especially real estate agents, often use “home” in ways that are similar to the traditional meaning of a “house.” They say things like "homes for sale," "buy a home." Well, traditional grammarians would say you can't buy a home; you can only buy a house and make it a home.

Question:
Is the expression “the both of us” standard? Or it is Nigerian English?

Answer:
It’s neither nonstandard nor uniquely Nigerian English. Several grammarians say the expression first emerged in American English as a deviation from the conventional “both of us,” but I have never heard any American in my social circles use the expression; most of them simply say “both of us.” The definite article “the” in the expression strikes me as pointless.

Nevertheless British music sensation Adele in her recent wildly popular, record-breaking song titled “Hello” said “the both of us.” This means either that “the both of us” has crossed over to the UK or Adele’s English has become Americanized. The latter seems more likely since Adele, who now lives in the US, sounds really American in accent and diction in the song.

Question:
When someone asks you “who is it?” which of these responses is correct? “It is I.” “It is me.”

Answer:
From a pragmatic point of view, both responses are grammatically acceptable. In formal grammar, however, “it is I” would be considered the only grammatically correct response. The responder is the subject of the sentence, and “I” is a subjective pronoun—just like “we,” “he,” “she,” “they,” etc. are subjective pronouns. Subjective pronouns initiate action in a sentence. To understand why “It is I” is considered the only grammatically acceptable response, recast the sentence. For instance, you would say, “I am the one,” not “Me is the one.”

It is worth noting, though, that almost no one says “It is I” in conversational English anywhere in the English-speaking world. The conventional usage is “It is me.” You may find “It is I” only in formal, written contexts. Many grammarians say “It is I” is on its way out of the English language, and I agree.

Question:
Kindly say something about the use of “her,” “she,” and “it” in talking about a country or a group. My assumption is expressions like "Nigeria and her allies" and "NUJ protects her members" are old fashioned, and now better put as "Nigeria and its allies" and "NUJ protects its members" respectively. But a friend thinks the latter are incorrect expressions. Please comment.

Answer:
I wrote about this some time ago. Yes, the use of feminine pronouns such as “she” or “her” to refer to a country or to an organization or to a ship is outdated. The pronoun “it” is now preferred to “she” or “her” when reference is made to countries or organizations. You will never find contemporary native English speakers say “Britain and her citizens” or “America and her interests”; they’d replace “her” with “it.”

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Ilorin is an Ethnogenesis: Response to Kawu’s Anti-Saraki Ilorin Purism (II)

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

Last week, I pointed to the presence of non-Muslim Fulani pastoralists in Afonja’s army before the arrival of Alimi in Ilorin in 1817— at the behest of Afonja. Professor Abdullahi Smith’s book shows that Afonja’s army, called “jama” (derived from the Arabic jama’ah, which translates as “congregation” in English), also had several Hausa ex-slaves who all later became part of Ilorin.

As most people know, Afonja didn’t found Ilorin. That distinction goes to a Yoruba hunter named Ayinla, according to the Ta’alif, who, out of respect, gave up his dwelling to Afonja. Afonja then used Ilorin as the main base for the formation of his fierce and feared multi-ethnic jama with which he attacked the Alaafin in Oyo-Ile, where Afonja was born.

We learn from many historical sources that in c.1821, four years after Alimi’s arrival in Ilorin, Afonja’s jama used the town of Iseyin (incidentally the hometown of the late Olusola Saraki’s mother) as a base to launch attacks on the Alaafin. Afonja had been doing this for at least 20 years before Alimi came to Ilorin from the Yoruba town of Kuwo in Asa Local Government of Kwara State. (As I pointed out last week, Alimi had lived in Ogbomoso for three months and in Ikoyi for a year before moving to Kuwo where he lived for three years prior to his invitation to Ilorin by Afonja).

I bring all these examples to illustrate the originative ethnic cosmopolitanism in the evolution of Ilorin’s ethnogenesis and to show the hollowness and inadmissibility of notions of Ilorin purism. Language and religion, not ethnicity or ancestral provenance, are the most important cultural markers of the Ilorin identity. (Emotional attachment and self-identification are other central markers of the identity, as I’ll show in my conclusion.)

The language is Yoruba, but it’s a dialect of Yoruba that bears poignant linguistic testament to the labyrinthine identities that blended to form the Ilorin identity. In the Yoruba dialect spoken in Ilorin, you encounter distinct, if muffled, echoes of Hausa, Fulfulde, Baatonu, Kanuri, Nupe, and, of course, Arabic. Yet the language is mutually intelligible with the Yoruba spoken in much of Nigeria’s southwest. Islam is another central building block in the construction of the Ilorin identity. It’s often said that it is easier to find an “indigenous” Kano non-Muslim than it is to find an “indigenous” Ilorin non-Muslim.

Many people who despise the Sarakis and want to rhetorically sever their connection to Ilorin like to point to an apocryphal account of their Egba (Abeokuta) origins. I interviewed the late Olusola Saraki in early 2002 (read my November 24, 2012 column titled “My Last Encounter with Saraki”), and he told me his paternal grandfather was a Malian Fulani Islamic scholar who was drawn to the Islamic ferment that was taking place in Ilorin.

There is certainly a huge Malian influence in Ilorin and many parts of Nigeria, which I’m currently researching. Although the Malians who brought Islam to Yoruba land were Mande, not Fulani, people, there was a lot of mixing between the Mande and the Fulani in old Mali. It is entirely plausible that the Sarakis are patrilineally descended from the Malian Islamic scholars who migrated to Yoruba land (and elsewhere) in large numbers from the 15th century up until the late 19th century.

But let us, for the sake of argument, agree that Olusola Saraki made up his Malian Fulani ancestry to cozy up to the northern Nigerian political establishment, and that his father, Muktar Saraki, was only an Islamic student in Ilorin from Abeokuta. Well, that was precisely how much of Ilorin was formed: people coming from different parts of what is now Nigeria into Ilorin in search of Islamic education from the mid-1800s up until the early 1900s. Muktar Saraki was clearly born in the 1800s, which coincides with the incipience of Ilorin as we know it. That makes him as authentically Ilorin as anybody else who claims that identity.

And insisting that Muktar Saraki not being born in Ilorin delegitimizes his claims to Ilorin origins would open a Pandora’s box of unintended delegitimizations. Let’s start from the obvious. It would mean that Abd al-Salam, Ilorin’s first emir who reigned from c. 1823 to c.1836, according to Smith’s chronology, was not an Ilorin man since he was not born in Ilorin; he was born in Sokoto, according to the Ta’lif. It would also mean that Shi’ta, Abd al-Salam’s younger brother who succeeded him as emir and ruled from c. 1837 to c. 1863, was not an Ilorin man since he, too, was born in Sokoto. It would, of course, also mean that every child born of Ilorin parents outside of Ilorin town is not native to Ilorin. That’s simplistic nativist logic.

What is even more simplistic, not to talk of ahistorical and unsociological, is the claim that Bukola Saraki’s Yoruba given names (Olubukola Olabowale Adebisi) somehow denude him of his Ilorin bona fides. Modibbo Kawu said, “These are not names an Ilorin person would normally be called.” Well, one of Ilorin’s distinctions is the rich cultural and onomastic tapestries its people embody with grace and pride. I know of no Ilorin person, whatever his or her ancestral provenance, who does not have a Yoruba given name.

Even Kawu himself used to be known as Lanre, the short form of Olanrewaju. The current emir of Ilorin was known as Kolapo throughout his professional career. He only formally became known as Ibrahim after he became emir. Babatunde “Tunde” Idiagbon, one of Ilorin’s most famous sons, who was patrilineally Fulani, didn’t also formally bear his Muslim name, Abdulbaki, throughout his life. In fact, he gave all his children Yoruba names: Adekunle, Babatunde, Ronke, Mope, and Bola.

Ilorin people are simultaneously all of the multiplicity of identities that constitute them and none of it. That’s why they are an ethnogenesis.  No one is pure anything in Ilorin, and every Ilorin person knows this. For instance, someone once told me that the ancestors of Professor Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin and head of the Federal Character Commission, came to Ilorin from Mali. When I interviewed him in 2000 or thereabouts, I asked if this was true. He shrugged off my question. It was probably his way of saying that it’s impractical and pointless to trace that sort of neat, discrete provenance in a complex ethnogenesis like Ilorin.

In his stirring, delicately phrased tribute to his mother in September 2009 titled “Now I feel Truly Vulnerable,” Kawu admitted that his mother was Yoruba. That’s half of his DNA. The other half, which is Fulani, is mixed with many other ethnicities, so that if a scientific DNA analysis were done on him, the Fulani stemma in him would probably only be about 10 percent or less. This would be true of even the contemporary descendants of Alimi who don’t look anything close to how the Ta’lif describes Alimi, Abd al-Salam, and Shi’ta—“red,” i.e. light-skinned. That’s why scholars of identity, as I’ve pointed out here several times, characterize identity as “fiction,” even though they admit it’s politically consequential fiction that is often deployed to exclude, marginalize, and imagine communities.

The late Dr. Olusola Saraki clearly had an enormous emotional investment in his Ilorin identity. He self-identified as an Ilorin person, and that’s all that matters. Ultimately, our identity is what we think and proclaim we are. In any case, Bukola Saraki didn’t choose to be born into the Saraki family, which claims Ilorin origins. That was an accident of birth about which he had no control. To judge people on the basis of invariable attributes, such as the place or circumstance of their birth, is to condemn them even before they were born. Malcolm X called that “the worst crime that can ever be committed.”

In the final analysis, heterogeneity is at the structural and symbolic core of the Ilorin identity, and nativism and rigid ethnic exclusivism are a painful betrayal of the intrinsic hybridity of that identity.

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Ilorin is an Ethnogenesis: Response to Kawu's Anti-Saraki Ilorin Purism (I)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

English Words that Make Nigerians Say the Opposite of What They Mean (III)

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi


23. “Who send you message?” This is a Nigerian Pidgin English expression for “who asked you to do it?” or “stop being a busybody!” It’s a direct translation from many Nigerian languages. The expression is now finding mainstream acceptance in informal Nigerian English, and is sometimes rendered as “who sent you message?” by educated Nigerians who are sensitive to Standard English tenses.

The expression would mystify native English speakers. They would understand it as “who sent a message to you?” But the converse is actually true: it literally means “who asked you to send a message to someone on my behalf?” It, of course, figuratively means, “Mind your own business.”

24. “Talk less of.” This is sometimes written as “talkless of.” I used to think only barely educated Nigerians used this expression, but, lately, I have seen it used by PhDs, professors, journalists, and people with an otherwise good grasp of the English language.  A few months ago, a Briton sent me an email asking for my help in deciphering what a Nigerian email correspondent meant by “talkless of.”

As you can guess by now, “talk less of” or “talkless of” is entirely meaningless to native English speakers. It’s a Nigerian English invention that arose out of an incompetent mimicry of the expression “much less,” which is used in negative contexts to mean that something is less likely to happen or be the case. So where Nigerians would say, “He can’t even speak Pidgin English talk less of [or talkless of] Standard English,” native English speakers would say, “He can’t even speak Pidgin English, much less Standard English.” Other phrases native English speakers use in place of “much less” are “let alone,” “not to mention,” “not to talk of,” and “still less.”

“Talk less of” can only mean “don’t talk much of,” as in, “Talk less of him so that he doesn’t think he is that important to you.” If you apply this meaning to the Nigerian English “talk less of,” like the Briton who wrote to me did, there’s definitely bound to be a communication breakdown.

25. “His royal highness.” In British English, this form of address is used for princes, but it’s used for kings in Nigeria. A British person not familiar with Nigerian English would mistake a Nigerian king for a prince if he were introduced as “His Royal Highness.” As I’ve pointed out in several previous columns, the British use “majesty” (His Royal Majesty or Her Royal Majesty) for monarchs.

During colonialism, all traditional rulers in the British sphere of influence were subordinate to the King or Queen of England, so, at best, they were princes, not kings, since there could only be one king in the British Empire. But years after colonialism and the collapse of the British Empire, kings are still addressed as “royal highnesses” in Nigeria and other Commonwealth countries.

26. “Farmer.” Nigerian English speakers understand a farmer exclusively to mean someone who plants, tends to, and harvests crops. For native English speakers, however, a farmer doesn’t only work the land; he can also keep livestock, also called “farm animals.” So the distinction Nigerian English speakers draw between “farmers” and “herders” would strike native English speakers as arbitrary and puzzling.

If you are familiar with the “Old McDonald had a farm” nursery rhyme, you’ve probably heard this:

Old MACDONALD had a farm
E-I-E-I-O
And on his farm he had a cow
E-I-E-I-O
With a moo moo here
And a moo moo there
Here a moo, there a moo
Everywhere a moo moo
Old MacDonald had a farm
E-I-E-I-O

The song mentions a whole host of other animals and the sounds they make, demonstrating that a farm can be filled with animals, not just crops. When my mother visited me here in the United States from the middle of last year to early this year, she requested me to take her to a farm. I obliged her. The first farm we went to had only farm animals—cows, pigs, ducks, chickens, etc. She told me that wasn’t a farm. I, too, would never have called that a farm had I not lived in America for years. But I took her to a cornfield and other crop-based farms, which she recognized as the “real” farms.

In America, people who raise cows are called “cow farmers.” Many Nigerians would find that expression befuddling. I would add, though, that the distinction Nigerians draw between “farmers” and “herders” is justified because herders are itinerant.

27. “In all ramifications.” Nigerian English speakers say “in all ramifications” to mean “in all aspects,” or “in all dimensions.” However, “ramifications” (note that it’s often pluralized) is widely understood among native English speakers to mean an "unwelcome consequence,” as in, “The murder of the soldier is bound to have grave ramifications for the community.”

“Ramification” is a derivative of “ramify,” which literally means to grow branches. So ramification can mean branches, an arrangement of branching parts, units of a complex structure, etc. as in, "he broke off one of the ramifications." I think when Nigerian English speakers say “in all ramifications” to mean “in all aspects,” or “in all dimensions,” they are metaphorically extending the literal meaning of ramification (i.e., the branches of a tree). Although the usage is unidiomatic and nonstandard, I think it is legitimate. Unfortunately, native English speakers are unlikely to understand this peculiarly Nigerian usage of the term.

28. “Severally.” When Nigerian English speakers say “severally,” they mean “several times.” Example: “I have told you severally that I don’t like that!” or “I have been severally arrested by the police.” In Standard English, however, “severally” does not mean “several times”; it only means individually, singly, independently, without others, etc., as in, “the clothes were hung severally.” This means the clothes are apart from each other and don’t touch each other. That’s why lawyers say “jointly and severally,” which means collectively and individually.

29. “Cogs in the wheel.” In Nigerian English, a “cog in the wheel” means an obstacle, a hindrance. In Bukola Saraki’s letter announcing his defection from APC to PDP, he said, “Perhaps, had these divisive forces not thrown the cogs in the wheel at the last minutes, and in a manner that made it impossible to sustain any trust in the process, the story today would have been different." That would be completely meaningless to a native English speaker.

“A cog in the wheel” is a Standard English idiom, which is also rendered as a “cog in the machine,” and it means an insignificant but nonetheless essential person in a large organization, as in: “The lowly civil servant is a cog in the ministry’s wheel.” Secretaries in organizations are cogs in the wheel because although they are insignificant in social status, they are indispensable to the functioning of organizations.

30. “Military industrial complex.” The Nigerian presidency is fond of this expression even when it’s clear that people who use it have no idea what it means. For instance, after the Nigerian Army University was announced a few months ago, the federal government said, “It is our hope that it will be the hub for developing a Nigerian Industrial Military Complex. It will be a very great university.”
In an August 7, 2015 presidential news release, President Buhari was also quoted to have said, “The Ministry of Defence is being tasked to draw up clear and measurable outlines for development of a modest military industrial complex for Nigeria.”

“Military-industrial complex” (note the hyphen between “military” and “industrial”) is a pejorative term that was first used by US president Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 17, 1961 in his exit speech. It refers to the evil, war-mongering, profit-inspired conspiracy between arms manufacturers, certain elements in the US military, and some members of the US Congress. This conspiracy ensures that the US Congress budgets huge sums of money to the military to fight often needless and unjust wars with countries around the world. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere are the consequence of the influence of the US military-industrial complex. Wars cause arms to be manufactured and sold, which brings money to the pockets of arms manufacturers, the legislators who support war, and the generals who execute it.

President Eisenhower was worried about this triangular conspiracy of warmongers. That was why he said, “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence… by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

Concluded

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