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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Top 10 Usage Errors in Nigerian English (I)

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

Every English-speaking nation on earth has its repertoire of idiosyncratic solecisms. I have written about common errors in American English. Several writers have written about the errors that typically occur in British English. And so on and so forth. In this article, I am concerned with 12 most popular, regularly occurring errors that appear in written and spoken Nigerian English. This is an addition to the scores of other errors I’ve identified in previous writings over the past couple of years. So here goes:

1. “As at when due.” This widespread Nigerian English solecism is a classic example of an error that initially started in spoken English but later ended up in written English as well. The correct phrase should be “as and when due,” but many Nigerians mishear it as “as at when due” and then go ahead and write it the way they mishear it. The easiest way to remember the correct rendering of this fixed phrase is to break it down to “as due” and “when due.”

 The proper form of the idiom in British English is “as and when.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, it means, “at the time that something happens.” Wikitionary also defines it as, “in the event that the thing being discussed comes to pass.”

 The idiom regularly co-occurs with words like “due,” “needed,” and “required” (as in, “as and when due,” “as and when needed,” “as and when required”) although most Nigerian English speakers are only familiar with the idiom’s co-occurrence with “due.”

See the following examples of how the idiom is used: 1. “We pay our workers as and when due.” 2. “We don't own a car—we just rent one as and when we need it.” (That is the usage example given in the Cambridge Dictionary). 3. “I don’t have a full-time job; I work as and when required.” The phrases can also be used as compound modifiers such as, “we pay salaries on an as-and-when-due basis,” “I work on an as-and-when-required basis,” etc.

The idiom occurs in American English as “if and when.” So if the examples above were to be rendered in American English, they would be: 1. “We pay our workers if and when due.” 2. “We don't own a car—we just rent one if and when we need it.” 3. “I don’t have a full-time job; I work if and when required.” In the compound-modifier examples, the American English rendering would be, “we pay salaries on an if-and-when-due basis,” “I work on an if-and-when-required basis,” etc.

2. “Comity of nations.” This phrase is often used in Nigerian English, especially in official Nigerian English, where “community of nations” would do. “Comity of nations” is a fixed phrase that means the “courteous respect by one nation for the laws and institutions of another.” It basically means the respect that nations have for each other’s sovereignty. “Comity” means harmony, so comity of nations means harmony of nations, not a collection of nations. Unfortunately, “comity of nations” has been misused even in Nigerian presidential speeches delivered at international arenas.

On the website of the Nigerian Embassy in the USA, the following sentence appears: “Within that period too, Nigeria gradually regained her voice in the comity of nations.” You would think that people whose exposure to and knowledge of the practices and registers of international relations are considered worthy enough to be appointed to represent Nigeria in the United States would know enough to know that “community of nations” is the right phrase to use in the sentence above.

It should be pointed out that it isn’t only Nigerian English speakers that use “comity of nations” when they mean “community of nations.” The misusage is widespread is several non-native English varieties. It’s so widespread that many online dictionaries have expanded the meaning of the expression to account for this.

3. “Drop.” This word is misused in Nigerian English in at least three ways. One, it is used where “get down” or “stop” would be more appropriate. In Nigerian urban areas, when passengers in commercial buses want to come down at a bus stop, they often say they want to “drop.” Well, it is the driver who drops (off) passengers. So it would make more sense to say, “Driver, drop me (off) here” than to say, “Driver, I want to drop here.” Saying you want to “drop” from a bus in, say, America or Britain, might be mistaken to mean that you want to commit suicide by suddenly jumping off a moving bus or car.

The second common error in the use of “drop” in Nigerian English appears in the phrase “take a drop,” which is used where native English speakers would say “take a taxi.” But, here, one must acknowledge the socio-economic and cultural context of “take a drop” and admit that it is difficult to replace it with “take a taxi.” To “take a drop” means to be the exclusive occupant of a taxi since taxis in Nigeria usually take a whole bunch of people who are headed in different destinations. In the West, taxis don’t take different passengers going to different destinations; only buses do that. Even then, buses drop off passengers at designated bus stops.

However, this does not entirely explain why the phrase “take a drop” appears in Nigerian English. It seems likely that it is a linguistic appropriation (or misappropriation) of the military terminology “drop” which, according to the Oxford Dictionary of English, means “an act of dropping supplies or troops by parachute.” Nigerian English probably borrowed the sense of unidirectional flow in the military “drop” and applied it to the one-way flow that occurs when someone is the exclusive passenger in a taxi.

The third misuse of “drop” appears mostly in the lingo of Nigerian youth such as in the phrase “drop something” to mean pay out money. This seems to trace descent from Nigerian Pidgin English by way of Nigerian languages.

4. “Female youths.” The phrase “female youths” is decidedly nonstandard. Here is why. When “youth” is used as a collective noun to mean “young men and women,” its plural form doesn’t admit of an “s.” It is still youth, as in, “the youth of Nigeria is fed up with the incompetence of the country’s ruling elite.” However, youth also means “young man.” When it is used in that sense, its plural form takes an “s.” That means “youths” invariably means “young men.” So it is impossible to have “female youths” unless you mean women who were born men but underwent sex-change operations to become men.

Out of curiosity, I searched the British National Corpus to see if by chance any British English speaker ever used the phrase “female youths” in speech or in writing. There was not a single instance. I also searched the Corpus of Contemporary American English. I found 13 instances of the usage of “female youths.” All but one appeared in academic medical journals.

The only match I found in popular usage appeared in the Washington Post of September 19, 2010 (EXTRAS; Pg. DZ18) in the sentence, “Two female youths snatched a female pedestrian's cellphone and fled.” But when I went directly to the Washington Post website to read the story, I discovered that “two female youths” was changed to “two females.”

5. “Hotel.” Nigerian English speakers, especially those with low- or mid-level proficiency, habitually interchange “hotel” with “brothel” both because “hotel” and “brothel” kind of sound alike and because, well, many Nigerian hotels are glorified brothels. But a hotel is a building that provides temporary accommodation to travelers while a brothel is a house of prostitution. A non-Nigerian lady once told me that she caused a stir among her Nigerian hosts when she told them she had stayed in a hotel for days during a previous visit.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

On Sexual Predation of Female Students in Nigerian Universities

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

Nigerian cyberspace is lit up with the story of one Professor Akindele of the Obafemi Awolowo University who was recorded by a female student demanding sex in exchange for a passing grade. I have written a series of articles on this epidemic in the past, but I am compelled to republish a version of my June 29, 2013 column titled “More on Sexual Harassment, Female Nudity and Nigerian Universities” because the same tactic of blaming the victim that male lecturers use to defend their preying on female students is being used today by some people.

This is about power asymmetry. It’s not unusual for students—even in America, Britain, and elsewhere—to ask for better, often unmerited, grades from their teachers. A responsible teacher would politely turn down these requests outright. Any teacher who takes advantage of a student’s desperation for better grades to exploit them sexually or financially is a monster who isn’t worthy of the privilege of being a teacher. Pure and simple.

A preponderance of the reactions I received to my column on the epidemic of sexual harassment [and sexual assault] in Nigerian universities suggested that by failing to highlight that female students do sometimes initiate sexual advances to lecturers to curry favors, I didn’t capture the complexity of the problem. Others asked that I examine the role scantily clad girls on university campuses play in encouraging sexual harassment.

There is no denying that many female students sometimes tempt their lecturers into having sex with them in exchange for better grades. It is also true that many lecturers are seduced by the temptations of provocative female dressing on campuses.

However, none of these circumstances justifies the prevalent sexual predation of female students on our campuses. If a lecturer succumbs to the seduction of his female students in exchange for better grades, it is still sexual exploitation because of the unequal power dynamics in the relationship. Lecturers should—and can—spurn the temptations of their students. For instance, in a May 29, 2010 article I wrote titled “Tributes to Little-Known Heroes,” I narrated how Professor Attahiru Jega repelled the sexual overtures of a female student. He was famous for that. This is what I wrote:

“One day, two of my friends at [Bayero University Kano] brought a strikingly beautiful girl to me. She was distraught with grief. Her eyes were bloodshot from excessive crying. She was in danger of not graduating because she failed a course Jega taught. My friends brought her to me because they said I was ‘Jega’s boy’ and could help her. By her own admission, she didn’t deserve to pass the course.

“She said she was sure that she could use her beauty and incredibly tempting bodily endowments to compel any lecturer to give her whatever grade she wanted. She told me she’d actually ‘passed’ other courses that way. But she said when she went to Jega’s office in her most provocative dress—one that, according to her, could rouse a dead man to life— Jega didn’t even look at her twice. He firmly said there was nothing he could do to help her. She wondered if he was sexually impotent. Well, I told her Jega had beautiful children who were, in fact, his spitting image.

“She promised to give me ‘anything’ if I could help talk to Jega to change his mind. Of course, I told her the moment I even dared to bring that kind of issue up would be the moment Jega would stop relating to me. The young grieving lady left and said ‘his [i.e., Jega’s] wife must be very lucky.’”

Note that I wrote this… when Jega wasn’t appointed INEC chairman. Like Jega, many lecturers have a reputation for being honorable in their dealings with their female students. So it’s not as if male lecturers are passive, helpless victims of the sexual enticements of their students. Because the power dynamics are in their favor, lecturers can resist the sexual baits of their students without any consequence.

Another issue that the Jega example illustrates is that scanty clothing in and of itself is not sufficient to cause a lecturer to sexually exploit his female students. If you think Nigerian female undergraduates are scantily clothed, come to America, especially during summers. The dressing on Nigerian university campuses is tame and modest.

Now, I have no problem with Nigerian universities that choose to impose dress codes on their students (both male and female), but I have a problem with people who justify the rape of female students on account of their dressing.  Female nudity is not like a syringe that injects men with a dramatic and irresistible urge to have sexual liaisons.

When I started teaching here in the United States [13] years ago, I faced a sticky situation. A female student of mine became unusually drawn to me. She would always sit on the front seat without fail and would stare at me in ways that struck me as unusual. My suspicions were confirmed when, in the middle of the semester, she invited me for dinner. I politely turned it down. She invited me two more times. I politely declined both. Then came the bombshell: she called me one day and said she was sexually attracted to me; that she didn’t care that I was married, and that she didn’t want any favors from me because she was a straight “A” student.

At that point, I told my colleagues what was going on. They advised that I report the case to a superior. The summary of the story is that I made it clear to the student I couldn’t have any intimate relationship with her whatsoever. And that ended the matter.

I froze off my student’s temptations not necessarily because my morality is superior to the Nigerian university lecturers who habitually take advantage of the desperation of their female students to sexually exploit them. I did it because I knew there could be grave consequences for any indiscretion on my part.  Having sex with a student in America constitutes grounds for outright termination of appointment. Every person employed here learns this during orientations, and the laws guiding teacher-student relation are clearly spelled out in staff/faculty handbooks.

This is what Nigerian universities need: a clearly defined structural mechanism to regulate the intimate relational dynamics between students and their teachers and an effective mechanism for redress for students who are violated by their lecturers. At the moment, the many Nigerian university lecturers who refuse to sexually exploit their students and who spurn the seduction of their students do so out of their personal or religious morality. That’s not sustainable in the long run. You can’t run institutions on the basis of people’s personal moral codes.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

“Emir of Yorubaland”: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of the Term “Emir”

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

The Oluwo of Iwoland in Osun State, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, said on March 31 that he should henceforth be addressed as "Emir of Iwoland" (he later declared himself “Emir of Yorubaland” before saying he only meant that Hausa people could call him that if they wanted). This provoked a gratuitous cyber fight between Yorubas and Hausa Muslims. The Oba was derided by Yoruba people as taking on a “Hausa title,” and Hausa people became the target of derision. This, of course, ignited strong reactions from Hausa people.

This intervention is merely linguistic; it is not intended to justify the Oba’s choice of “Emir” as his title. I personally think that the Oba is either being deliberately provocative or is literally out of his mind. When I watched a video of him insulting a whole host of people and wildly gesticulating in ways that, in my opinion, demeaned his status as the king of a people, I thought he needed more help than attacks.

Having said that, his use of the term “emir” to refer to himself isn’t nearly the linguistic sacrilege his critics think it is. Here is why:

1."Emir" is NOT a Hausa word. It's actually an English word by way of the Arabic "amir," which simply means ruler or leader or commander. So, in a literal linguistic sense, every Oba, Obi, Sarki, Suno, Tor, Ochi, Olu, etc. is an "emir."

As I pointed out in my June 15, 2014 column titled, “A Pragmatic Analysis of ‘Emir,’ ‘Sarki,’ ‘Oba’ and ‘Chief’ in Nigerian English,” the word “emir” didn’t come directly into English from Arabic. It was first domesticated in French as “émir" before it was loaned to the English language in 1593. (As the reader can see, the English rendering of the word is unaltered from French, except for the dropping of the grave accent on the letter “e.”)

 So “emir” has been an English word for more than 400 years, that is, at least 200 years before the Usman Dan Fodio jihad and about the time Islam became widespread in Hausaland, Yorubaland and elsewhere in Nigeria.

Another prominent, widely used derivative of “amir” in English is “admiral.” It is derived from the Arabic "amir-ul-bahr,” which translates as “commander of the sea.” (Amir ul or amir al translates roughly as “commander of”). So if you think “emir” is a Hausa word, what do you think of “admiral” since it shares the same lexical origins are “emir”? Like “emir,” admiral was also first domesticated in French as “amiral” and came to English as “admiral” around the early 1200s.

It should be admitted, though, that although “emir” is an English word with lexical roots in Arabic, it’s often associated with Muslim rulers, and evokes connotations of Hausa-Fulani Muslim overlordship in Nigeria. I think that’s the basis for the resistance against the title among Yoruba nationalists. The successors to the prophet of Islam (called khalifa or “Caliphs” in Islamic literature) were often called “amir-ul- muminin,” which roughly translates as commander of the faithful (i.e., Muslim faithful). 

(Interestingly, Hausa people don’t call the most prominent traditional ruler in the Muslim north the "Sultan of Sokoto"; they call him “Sarkin Musulumi,” which translates as leader of Muslims—obviously a domestication of “amir-ul-muminin”; it’s also more natural for Hausa speakers to say “daular Usmaniyya” than to say “Sokoto Caliphate”).

2. Hausa people call their traditional rulers "Sarki," not "Emir." (Ironically, "Seriki," the Yoruba domestication of Sarki, is a common Yoruba personal name, and even appears in titles like "seriki adinni of Yorubaland," which means the leader of religion/Islam in Yorubaland). So both the Oba and his critics are wrong in thinking that “emir” is a Hausa title. The ethnic binaries Yoruba nationalists erect to call attention to the absurdity of his change of royal title would have been justified if he had addressed himself as the “Sarki of Iwoland” or the “Sarki of Yorubaland.”

3. It is unnatural for Hausa people to call their traditional rulers "emir"—or even the original Arabic "amir"—when they speak Hausa. It was British colonialists who introduced the words "emir" and "sultan" to northern Nigerian royal lexical repertoire, but the words haven't even been domesticated in the Hausa language, showing that the people aren't quite enthused about them. Saying “emir” or “sultan” while speaking Hausa is generally understood as code-mixing, that is, interspersing a conversation with foreign words.

4. Similarly, in their quotidian conversational encounters, Ilorin people call their "emir" Oba, even though the "Oba" traces ancestral descent from Fulani people. The market near the emir of Ilorin's palace is called "oja oba," which means "market of the oba" in Yoruba.

The following was my recounting of the sociolinguistic complexity of the term “emir” in Ilorin in my June 15, 2014 column:

“That is why Yoruba nationalists who want to ‘reclaim’ Ilorin resent the labeling of the traditional ruler of the town as ‘Emir of Ilorin.’ Every so often, Yoruba cultural nationalists spearhead the advocacy for the appointment of an ‘Oba of Ilorin.’

“When I was a reporter for the Weekly Trust in 2000 I was assigned to cover a controversy over the calls for an ‘Oba of Ilorin.’ In the course of my investigation, I spoke with people from all classes of the Ilorin society.

“One thing that struck me throughout my stay in Ilorin for the story was that everybody in the town, including members of the ruling family, called their traditional ruler ‘Oba’ when they spoke in Yoruba. ‘Emir’ sounded strange, even forced. Like Hausa people up north, the Ilorin people don’t relate well to the word ‘emir’ unless they are putting on airs or speaking in English.

“A particularly insightful encounter for me was an interview I had with an old, uneducated man who identified himself as a descendant of Afonja, the Yoruba founder of Ilorin who lost power to the progenitor of the current ruling family. I asked him if he wanted an ‘Oba of Ilorin.’ He was genuinely befuddled. His response, in Yoruba, was: ‘What are you talking about? We already have an Oba.’ Using the categories that have been popularized by the Nigerian news media, I said, ‘No, you don’t have an Oba; you have an emir.’ His comeback threw me off.  He didn’t know what an emir was. ‘Kilo je be? [what is that?],’ he said.

“That was when it dawned on me that ‘emir’ is an English word that only western-educated northerners use to refer to their traditional rulers when they speak in English. Just like Hausa speakers call their traditional rulers ‘sarki,’ Ilorin people call theirs ‘oba.’ Every Ilorin person calls the emir’s palace ‘ile Oba’ (which literally translates as ‘the Oba’s house’). The biggest market in Ilorin, which is close to the emir’s palace, is called Oja Oba,’ which translates as 'the market of the Oba.'

“So ‘emir’ is rarely used in Ilorin—as in other northern Muslim places—outside official communication and in English-medium conversations. A more appropriate question for the old man should have been “do you want an Oba who is Yoruba rather than this Oba whose ancestors are Fulani?” I actually did rephrase my question like that after realizing that the old man couldn’t relate to the term ‘emir.’”

5. The roots of Islam in Iwo go back to several centuries. The town had sharia courts and was the center of Islamic scholarship several decades before many northern Muslim communities. Perhaps it is the basis for the Oba’s decision to bear the title “emir.”  The colonialists who imposed the term “emir” on northern Muslim traditional rulers could have called Muslims obas in Yorubaland "emir" if they wanted to, and it would have stuck.

Consider this: The very name “Yoruba” isn't native to the Yoruba people, as I've written in several columns; it's a colonial imposition, which Ajayi Crowder helped to popularize. The colonialists actually toyed with the name "Nago" (the name of a Yoruba subgroup in Benin Republic) but later chose “Yoruba,” which is the corruption of Yariba, the Songhai exonym for people in the old Oyo Empire.

Even the Oduduwa myth of origin that Yoruba people cherish about themselves came about as a colonial project to foster a sense of oneness among members of the cognate but nonetheless disparate language groups that now fancy themselves as Yoruba. (The colonialists wanted to reduce Nigeria's ethnic and linguistic complexity to just three ethnic groups, which was unsuccessful. They also promoted the Bayyagida myth and several other myths of origin in Nigeria. I know this will be hard to accept, but it's true).

Anyone who chose your very collective name and fostered a collective identity where none existed before could have done anything. The colonialists (although it's the Portuguese) called Eko "Lagos," and that's what we still call it today. The colonialists decided that Yoruba people in parts of what is now Kwara and Kogi would be northerners, and that's what they are today. So don't discount the power of colonialists to shape identities. Had they chosen to call obas emirs, that's what they would have been.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Hypocritical Vilification of TY Danjuma in the North

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

General T.Y. Danjuma has become a bête noire in my part of Nigeria, that is, the Muslim north, for saying two things: that people should defend themselves against armed attackers and that the Nigerian military isn’t neutral in conflicts.

“The armed forces are not neutral. They collude with the armed bandits. They kill people, kill Nigerians,” Danjuma said in a speech at the first convocation of the Taraba State University on March 24. “If you depend on the armed forces to stop the killings you will all die one by one. The ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba state, must stop in all the states of Nigeria. I ask everyone one of you to be alert and defend your territory, your state. You have nowhere else to go.”

These are certainly strong words, especially from someone who embodies and wields the kind of enormous social and symbolic capital that Danjuma does. Until now, he was one northerner who had managed to capture the imagination of both the Christian north and the Muslim north. Although some sections of his immediate, primordial vicinity don’t see him as “neutral” in the slaughterous communal upheavals that episodically erupt between the Jukun and the Kuteb and between the Jukun and the Tiv, he excites— or used to excite— positive passions among both Middle Belt sub-regionalists and pan-northern Nigerian enthusiasts.

No living northerner even comes close to approximating this sort of mutually exclusive appeal in the region. And it’s precisely this fact that got some people in the Muslim north heartbroken. But this heartbreak and the stream of coarse attacks it activated against Danjuma are hypocritical for a number of reasons.

First, it’s a universal truth that self-preservation is the first law of nature. It’s instinctive. And it’s lawful. So Danjuma didn’t say anything new. More than that, though, several prominent people have given expression to Danjuma’s sentiments before and after him.

For instance, in a March 31, 2018 interview with the Daily Trust, the Emir of Birnin Gwari, Alhaji Zubairu Jibril, echoed Danjuma’s exact sentiments. It’s worth quoting at length.

“A month ago, in one area called Anguwan Gajere, the bandits attacked a village, and the villagers fought back. In the process they killed more bandits than the people of the town,” the emir said. “All of a sudden, we were told that the people who came were Fulani men, and Miyetti Allah was in the vanguard of protecting them. What we have been preaching to our people is that they should not sit down like fools and watch themselves and their families get killed. If you can do anything to protect yourselves, protect yourself and I will repeat it in front of anybody…

“Nobody can stop me from telling my people to protect themselves…. The soldiers that are being brought come and sometimes make matters worse.”

As far as I am aware, there was no condemnation of and virulent denunciations against the emir for echoing Danjuma. Instead, on April 2, the presidency gave a tacit stamp of approval to self-defense, which it had condemned as “capable of emboldening criminals” when Danjuma advocated it. During an interview with Channels TV, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu appeared to walk back his earlier wholesale condemnation of self-defense. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with you defending yourself in line with the law,” he said. “The security services in the country will probably not be telling Nigerians to do nothing when they come under attack.”

If we’ve all come round to agreeing that self-defense isn’t unlawful, why was Danjuma condemned for advocating it?

In 2012, General Muhammadu Buhari said something even more incendiary, and the people who condemned Danjuma for what he said on March 24 defended Buhari vigorously at the time. Buhari said if PDP rigged the 2015 election, “the dog and the baboon will be soaked in blood.” I was one of the people who wrote to defend Buhari then.

In my May 27, 2012 grammar column titled “Idioms,Mistranslation, and Abati’s Double Standard,” I pointed out that “kare jini, biri jini,” the original Hausa expression Buhari used, was merely an idiom to connote fierce competition. “[H]ad the non-Hausa speaking spin doctors of the presidency understood ‘kare jini, biri jini’ as the lexical substitute for ‘fierce competition’ (the same way, for instance, that English speakers … understand the expression ‘break the back of the beast’ not as a call to violence against wild animals or humans but as the lexical substitute for ‘overcome a difficulty’) this pointless controversy wouldn’t have emerged,” I wrote.

But Dr. Raji Bello, a dispassionate, multi-talented medical doctor and analyst from Adamawa, correctly faulted my argument. His response, which I published in my June 7, 2012 column, went thus:

“My concern is that Buhari's remarks are still a bit problematic even if correctly interpreted. Let's assume that ‘kare jini biri jini’ just means ‘fierce competition.’ From his remarks, I can gather two things: 1. Whatever he was predicting will happen AFTER the 2015 election and not before it 2. He is promising a NEW kind of reaction to PDP's rigging different from the way his party has reacted before.

“Now, considering these two points, how would you apply the expression ‘fierce competition’ to the 2015 post-election period? Was he referring to a fierce legal battle or fierce post-election press conferences? Or is it fierce rallies and demonstrations? It is unlikely that he was referring to a fierce legal battle because his party engaged in that three times before with no positive outcome. It is also unlikely that he was referring to fierce press conferences to reject the rigged result because his party has done that one too previously. The last one, i.e., fierce protest rallies and demonstrations is the likely one because his party has not done that before officially.

 “If my assumption is correct, here is the problem: while peaceful demonstrations and protest rallies are legitimate and legal, what form would CPC post-election protest rallies take in the imagination of ordinary uneducated supporters if their leader says they are going to be ‘fierce’? In the leader's mind, a fierce rally may just mean a well-attended, noisy and persistent one; to the uneducated supporter, it could mean a rally where participants bear clubs and machetes. This is where the problem lies.”

I couldn’t agree more. In other words, Buhari instructed his supporters to take the laws into their own hands if the election was rigged. That’s unlawful.

And it’s absurdly escapist to pretend that the military is neutral. Minister of defense Mansur Dan Ali has already taken sides in his unwise pronouncements in the aftermath of deadly conflicts between farmers and herders.

Buhari himself was the victim of the military’s lack of neutrality during the 2015 elections. Service chiefs conspired with Jonathan to cause the date of the presidential election to be shifted. Army spokesman Brigadier Olaleye Lajide also told the news media that Buhari had no school certificate, and that he got enlisted in the army on the written recommendation of his high school principal.

That’s not a neutral military; it’s a military that is beholden to the president and what it perceives to be the president’s interests, a reason Governor Nasir El-Rufai (in)famously called the Nigerian armed forces “genocidal Jonathanian army” on June 26, 2014. Why should there be an uproar because Danjuma acknowledged the military’s lack of neutrality?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

“Who is Fooling Who?” Q and A on Popular Usage Errors

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

What is wrong with the expression “who is fooling who?” Someone told me it’s wrong, but I don’t see what’s wrong with it.

You don’t see anything wrong with it because “whom” is gradually on its way out of the English language. But before the current shift, “who” used to be universally considered a subjective pronoun and “whom” an objective pronoun. Subjective pronouns initiate action and usually, but not always, appear at the beginning of a sentence, while objective pronouns receive action and often appear at the end of sentences.

This probably sounds abstract and unhelpful. Maybe these examples will help: “I” is a subjective pronoun; the objective pronoun associated with it is “me.” “He” is a subjective pronoun; the objective pronoun associated with it is “him.” “She” is a subjective pronoun; the objective pronoun associated with it is “her.” “We” is a subjective pronoun; the objective pronoun associated with it is “us.” “They” is a subjective pronoun; the objective pronoun associated with it is “them.”  “Who” is a subjective pronoun; the objective pronoun associated with is “whom.”

Would you say, for instance, something like: “he is fooling he”? Or “they are fooling they”? Of course not. That’s because you’re using two subjective pronouns in the same sentence. In other words, we have two initiators of action with no recipient of the action. If you apply the same logic you’d see that “who is fooling who?” violates this basic subject-object symmetry.  Since “who” is the initiator of an action (i.e., fooling), the recipient of the action should be “whom.” Just like you would say “he is fooling him,” not “he is fooling he.”

However, the notion of “whom” as the objective case of “who” is losing currency in contemporary English usage. That’s why it’s far more common for people to say “who is fooling who” than for them to say “who is fooling whom.” I found nearly 16 million hits for “who is fooling who” on Google and only 2. 6 million hits for “who is fooling whom.” But most grammar experts would say you should use “who is fooling who” in informal contexts and “who is fooling whom” in formal contexts. I use “who is fooling whom” in both formal and informal contexts.

Which of these sentences is correct: 1. If I had known, I would have told you. 2. If I would have known, I would have told you.

From a descriptivist perspective, both sentences are correct. But from a prescriptivist perspective, only the first sentence is correct. I won’t bore the reader with a syntactic analysis of the sentences. It suffices to say, however, that the second sentence is chiefly American English. But even in America, it is more typical in southern United States than it is in northeastern United States.

When I first came to the United States, I used to think that only modestly educated people spoke like that, but I have since found out that it’s a national preference.

This is also true of past participles, which have practically died in the American south. People here say, “I would have saw him” instead of “I would have seen him.” Or “he should have went there” instead of “he should have gone there.” I can’t get used to it. It still hurts my ears each time I hear people replace the past participle with a past tense.

Is it ever acceptable to use “more” or “better” without “than” in a sentence? For instance, can I write or say “It’s more common for people to disrespect elders these days?” I have an acquaintance here in Kano who never tires to remind me that I can’t use “more” or better without “than.”

It’s true that comparative forms like “more” and “better” should ideally appear alongside “than” to complete the sense of comparison they convey. Nonetheless, it’s pedantic and churlish to insist that comparative forms must always co-occur with “than.” Modern usage convention doesn’t support that dogmatism. For instance, in the sentence “some more money is needed for the project,” it is unnecessary to add “than.”

But, more importantly, over the years, advertising has dulled our sensitivity to the kinds of explicit comparisons your friend probably has in mind when he expresses discomfort with the use of “more” and “better” without “than.” A lot of the time, the comparison is implied. When a company says it’s “more responsive to the needs of customers” or that it has a “better customer service” it’s an elliptical way to “dis” their competitor who is often known to the target of the ad. But the fact of not directly mentioning the competitor’s name saves the company from potential legal troubles.

I like your column. It helps me a lot. I will please like you to shed light on the use of 'lady' and 'woman'. A few days back, I was at the Postgraduate School of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the deputy sub-dean was addressed as 'a lady'. She instantly got angry. She protested that a man younger than her should not address her as a ‘lady’; that she should properly be called a ‘woman’.  My understanding is that 'a lady' is equivalent to 'a gentleman' or 'my lord'. We need more light on this socio-linguistic inferential translation.

There is not the slightest hint of condescension or discourtesy in the word “lady” that I know of in any variety of English. If anything, as you rightly observed, “lady” is a term of respect for women who are considered refined and socially superior. In countries where English is spoken as a native language, it’s usual to insult women by saying they’re “not real ladies” or that they are “unladylike.” So it’s ironic that a woman would take offense at being called a “lady.”

 It’s true, though, that in American English “lady” can be used informally to address a woman in a rude, peremptory manner, as in “I am sorry, lady, but you can’t get in because you’re late.” British English speakers deeply resent this usage of the term. I met a British guy here in the United States sometime ago who told me one of his pet peeves about American English is the tendency for Americans to call every woman a lady, even if the woman is some “strumpet.” “Not every woman is a lady, you know,” he said, as if I didn’t know that already. “It takes class, nobility, well-bred manners to be a lady.”

You’re right when you said “lady” is the female equivalent of “gentleman” for polite address. Female judges are also addressed as “My Lady.” The only derogatory expression that is associated with “lady” that I know of is “lady of the night,” which means a prostitute.

But it helps to also know that the lexical ancestor of “lady,” which the Oxford Dictionary of English identified as “hlaefdige,” meant “a woman to whom homage or obedience is due, such as the wife of a lord, also specifically the Virgin Mary….” So “lady” has always been a term of respect for women.

“Woman,” on the other hand, doesn’t have the denotation and connotation of reverence that “lady” has. In general terms “woman” merely means an adult female, but many of its other meanings are unflattering. For instance, in both British and American English “woman” can be used as a rude form of address for a female, such as “don’t be an idiot, woman!” It can also mean a female employed to do housework. Nigerians call such a person “house girl.” American English speakers tend to prefer the term “cleaning lady”—to the annoyance of British English speakers who reserve “lady” strictly for respectable women.

 Also note that “woman of the streets” is the older form of “lady of the night,” the euphemistic expression for a prostitute. I suspect that “lady of the night” started as an American English expression since Americans appear to always want to denude “lady” of its exclusive claims to nobility and high social class.

In summary, the female deputy sub-dean erred in assuming that she was being disrespected on account of being addressed as a “lady.”

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Moghalu, Sowore, and the Diasporan Presidential Challenge

By Farooq Kperogi, Ph.D.

Kingsley Moghalu, former CBN deputy governor and professor of the practice at Tufts University in the US, and Omoyele Sowore, publisher of the New York-based SaharaReporters, have signaled their intention to run for the office of president of Nigeria. This is not an endorsement of any of them, but a reflection on the possibilities and hopes that they excite.

Given the tremendous excitement that their announcements are generating in Nigeria, especially among the youth, it’s worth giving a thought to who they are and what they might bring to the table should they get the chance to lead Nigeria.

Since at least the mid-2000s, Nigeria’s exilic elites, particularly in the United States, have forged lasting, internet-enabled transformative linkages with their homeland, the popularity and centrality of SaharaReporters in Nigeria’s media landscape being a prominent example of that. The entrance of two important voices in Nigeria’s US diaspora in next year’s presidential contest is a significant milestone that elevates this home-diaspora connection.

In his influential book titled Kinship and Diasporas in International Affairs, Professor Yossi Shain pointed out that people who deterritorialize from their home countries and reterritorialize in other countries actually only leave their home countries physically but not emotionally. He said diasporans think of themselves as being “outside the state but inside the people.” It is this notion of being “inside the people” even when physically separated from them that drives the participation of diasporan Nigerians in the affairs of their home country. This is the context of the foray of these two diasporans into Nigeria’s presidential contest.

 I have a fair amount of familiarity with both Moghalu, 55, and Sowore, 47. Although I have no informed opinion on Moghalu’s tenure as CBN’s deputy governor, I have interacted with him since his relocation to the US in the past couple of years. He is, without a doubt, one of the best brains Nigeria has produced. He has an impressive mastery of the political economy of development and has written well-received books and articles on the subject.

He also strikes me as a cosmopolitan, well-bred person who isn’t beholden to narrow, primordial loyalties, and who understands the complexities of Nigeria and the defining role leadership can and should play in managing national differences. He is energetic, passionate, and brims over with fresh, innovative ideas about governance and inclusive growth.

I’ve enjoyed reading his think pieces and penetrating insights on Nigerian politics and economy. Of course, based both on my personal biography and intellectual temperaments, I differ a bit with him on his prescriptions to get Nigeria out of the woods.

During one of our conversations, for instance, he said "some of the reforms required to sort out the challenge are likely, even if well executed, to still be unpopular—at least temporarily." I misinterpreted him, given his background as a central banker, as endorsing the familiar neoliberal policy prescriptions for developing countries that almost always consist in stripping the poor of government subsidies while leaving intact the often unearned perks and privileges of the ruling elites.
But he said I was mistaken. “I am neither a fan of the Washington Consensus nor the Beijing Consensus,” he told me. “My take is more pragmatic. We need our own consensus, but our leaders are so intellectually lazy that they do not even bother to engage the subject or bring in people who can lead that effort.”

You may quibble with his economic prescriptions, but you can’t deny that he is a deeply informed thinker who invests considerable intellectual energies in formulating his positions. His experience working with the United Nations—from where Sanusi Lamido Sanusi brought him to the Central Bank of Nigeria— which afforded him the opportunity to compare and contrast the economic systems of different countries of the world certainly redounds to his credentials.

Sowore may not have the intellectual sophistication of Moghalu, but what he lacks in erudition he makes up for in drive, enthusiasm, and consuming patriotic fervor. I first met Sowore at the University of Lagos in, I think, 1994 when he was president of the University of Lagos student union government. I saw him leading the public shaming of members of violent student gangs popularly known as “secret cults” in Nigerian universities, which didn’t exist at the Bayero University in Kano where I was an undergraduate at the time. His fearlessness in taking on these monsters of depravity head-on in broad daylight frankly unnerved me.

I met him again here in the US and have related with him robustly over the last decade. From his days as an uncompromising, principled, and intrepid student activist to his transition to prodemocracy activism against military totalitarianism to his transformational diasporan citizen media activism, he has remained uncommonly consistent. His passion to salvage Nigeria from the blight inflicted on it by successive leaders has never wavered.

While several former activists of our generation have retreated to their ethnic and religious cocoons, Sowore has never faltered in his pan-Nigerian nationalism. You may accuse him of activist exuberance, but you can’t question the genuineness of his patriotism.

The narrative that there are no credible alternatives to Buhari who aren’t tethered to the dark past is no longer tenable. My own hope is that people like Moghalu, Sowore, Dangiwa Umar (if he decides that he wants to participate in partisan politics), and others like them should form a united front and choose a person to serve as an alternative to APC and PDP candidates. They can’t afford to divide their votes. Doing so would give victory handily to the corrupt, visionless, and bankrupt gerontocrats who have stalled Nigeria’s growth since independence.

I had naively thought that Buhari would initiate the process toward Nigeria’s reclamation, but he is turning out to be worse than Jonathan in every index of governance. The government he heads is so unfathomably incompetent it's not even vaguely clued in on what path to tread to solve the country's unbearably enduring economic problems. It shouldn’t be rewarded with a second term unless Nigerians have a perverse taste for violent self-immolation.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Mixed Feelings about the Release of the Dapchi Schoolgirls

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

I am the father of three daughters, one of whom is a teenager. If I were to live in Dapchi, my daughter would attend the school the Dapchi girls were abducted from. So I can't imagine the unspeakable horrors the parents of the abducted girls lived with. The parent in me is at once ecstatic over the release of the girls and distraught over the death of five of them and the continued captivity of one of them.

More than that, though, I am also worried that while no amount of money is too big to secure the release of the girls, the financial negotiations that led to their release would strengthen Boko Haram to launch more daring abductions of schoolgirls. It’s not a question of if; it’s a question of when. This is a vicious cycle.

After the usual, predictable protestations from government officials to the effect that no ransom had been paid to the terrorists to secure the release of the girls, SaharaReporters disclosed on Wednesday that five million euros had been paid to the Al-Barnawi faction of Boko Haram. “But a source who also participated in the negotiations with Boko Haram that led to release of over 80 Chibok girls in 2017 told SaharaReporters that the federal government not only made the ransom payment of five million euros to the insurgents,” the paper wrote, adding that government “also exchanged some Boko Haram prisoners in return for the Dapchi girls.”

It’s easy to dismiss this as speculative or even made-up, but examples from the immediate past should give us cause for pause. For instance, the government had denied paying any money to the Abubakar Shekau faction of Boko Haram for the release of 80 Chibok girls, but Wall Street Journal’s explosive and exhaustive report of December 24, 2017 proved beyond all shadows of doubt that “Nigeria paid a secret ransom of €3 million to free some of the kidnapped schoolgirls.” Three million euros adds up to nearly 1.5 billion naira.

In another case, the BBC reported that the government paid a hefty ransom to Boko Haram. "The ransom was €2m. Boko Haram asked for euros. They chose the suspects and gave us the list of girls who would be freed,” BBC quoted a source as confiding in them.

It’s pointless recounting all the numerous credible revelations of ransom payments to Boko Haram by the government because it was the subject of my column two weeks ago, but the point being made is that Boko Haram is now better financed by the Nigerian government than our military is. And, as sure as tomorrow’s date, the terrorist group will continue to use the war chest handed to them by our government to unleash more terror, abduct more girls, and earn more money. It has become a profitable racket.

While it’s hard to make the case that money shouldn’t be paid to secure the release scared, innocent girls, it’s also good to remember that the money paid to secure the release of some girls will be used to abduct other girls and inflict harm on others. So ransom payment isn’t a sustainable strategy. Any country that purchases its peace will perpetually be indebted to war.

But more than that, Boko Haram is now winning the ideational war. For instance, reports said that when members of the group returned the Dapchi girls, they stayed for a bit and preached against girl-child education. They told the girls to never go to school again or risk abduction. In a region that desperately needs education, especially girl-child education, we’ve been set back by probably five decades. No responsible parents will send their daughters to school again. The girls’ life is infinitely more important than their education.

Similarly, Boko Haram is clearly now being unwittingly lionized, deodorized, decriminalized, and mainstreamed by the government. The photos and videos shared by the Daily Nigerian online newspaper of jubilant crowds cheering Boko Haram terrorists in Dapchi while the group freely hoists its flag is disconcerting. The terrorist group isn't just being financed by the Buhari government through handsome ransom payments; it is also being unintentionally glamorized. There is no bigger recruitment tool for the group than this. It’s a loud message that crime does pay.

In my April 13, 2013 column titled “Amnesty for Boko Haram or Pampering of Mass Murderers?” where I vigorously opposed calls by northern elders for the granting of “amnesty” to Boko Haram, I offered a short and long-term solution to the Boko Haram menace:

 “What ‘northern elders’ need to do, if they are REALLY interested in solving the Boko Haram problem, is help mobilize ideational resources to defeat the ideology that gives birth to and sustains groups like Boko Haram,” I wrote. “This is a long-term strategic initiative that will not yield immediate results, but that is worthwhile nonetheless. In the short-run, our security agencies need to be equipped with 21st century intelligence-gathering capabilities to confront and defeat these primitive monsters of depravity that have made life miserable for millions of innocent people.”

I still stand by this.

Elements of successful nations
Every modern, successful nation must have five core elements:

(1) economic justice so that even the weakest and the most vulnerable stratum of the society can live, not just survive

(2) social justice so that accidents of birth, geography, and religious beliefs aren’t permanent barriers to the prospects of upward social and economic mobility

(3) a responsible and sincere government that serves the people and not the other way round

(4) a critical and watchful media system that acts as the watchdog of the government and not the lapdog of the temporary occupants of power

(5) an educated, vigilant, and engaged citizenry who are not susceptible to cheap elite manipulation and narrow primordial loyalties.

A nation that has only the first two elements is a fragile nation. A nation with just one of these elements has no reason to exist. And a nation with not a single one of these five core elements is Nigeria.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Proposal for Secondary School Transcripts for University Admission

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

I was invited by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) sometime ago to participate in a discussion on how to improve the university admission process in Nigeria. I couldn’t honor the invitation because of a schedule conflict. But here are the thoughts I would have shared if I had a chance to be at the discussion.

Nigeria’s education system is contemptuous of processes and obsessed with single-metric outcomes. That is why a brilliant, hardworking student who made consistently excellent grades in internal school exams but got stumped in their final O-level exams doesn’t stand a chance against a bad or mediocre student who somehow did well in the final O-level exam.  This fact distorts our appreciation of the true abilities of students.

At the moment, the most important criteria to adjudge students’ readiness for university education in Nigeria are grades from O-level exams and scores from the UTME. As I argued in a previous article, this is neither fair nor helpful.

So I am proposing a more process-driven alternative to adjudging student readiness for university education, and it’s a modified variant of the American system. It would be nice if student performance in the last three years of secondary school education is factored in admission decisions. That means senior secondary schools should have transcripts and Grade Point Averages. I am aware that some private secondary schools in Nigeria already have this, but this needs to be done nationwide.

To ensure the integrity of the process, at the end of every school term, secondary school principals should submit the records of student exams— from SS1 to SS3— to state ministries of education, the federal ministry of education (for federal secondary schools), and JAMB. At the end of three years, an academic transcript should be created with grade point averages for every student. There should be concordance between the transcripts in state ministries of education (and the federal ministry of education for federal secondary schools) and the transcripts in JAMB’s record.

Senior secondary school transcripts should then be used as one of the criteria for admission into universities, polytechnics, and other higher education institutions. There are many reasons why this is useful.

One, it ensures that the hard work—or lack thereof—that students invest—or fail to invest— in their senior secondary school education has real consequences. As it is now, most people don’t even remember the grades they made in their secondary school days. (Although I graduated from university more than two decades ago, I remember the grades I made in all my courses).

Second, knowing that their grades are being recorded and archived for purposes of admission into higher education institutions will inspire students to take their studies more seriously. Right now many students have no real motivation to excel in internal continuous assessment tests and end-of-term exams because results from these tests and exams are transitory and of no momentous consequence. Of course, I am not denying that there are students who are motivated to excel in spite of the low stakes in these internal exams, but more will be if they know that the consequences of the tests go beyond their schools.

Third, it helps to lessen the outsized importance attached to high-stakes, make-or-break assessments like the Senior School Certificate Exams and the UTME. Plus, being examined and graded by people who didn’t teach you has its down side, which can be offset by the kind of coursework-based assessment system I’m proposing.

In any case, when the 6-3-3-4 system was inaugurated in the 1980s, we were told that internal, school-administered continuous assessment tests would constitute at least 40 percent of Senior School Certificate Exams. As far as I am aware, that hasn’t happened, and I don’t know why.

Fourth, a de-emphasis on exam-based learning and an incorporation of coursework-based assessment of students will bring our students’ qualifications in line with international best practices. Secondary school students in the US, for instance, are issued high school diplomas at the end of their study. They also have transcripts and GPAs for the purposes of university admission. Universities use this in addition to scores from standardized university entrance tests, recommendation letters from former teachers, and personal essays.

The UK has also been tweaking its secondary school education to make it sensitive to the demands of the times. It transitioned from GCE Ordinary Level to the General Certificate of Secondary Education in 1988, and several reforms are still being proposed, including accepting science experiments in lieu of examination.

Finally, it gives university examination committees a broader view of candidates’ abilities and trajectories. A student with a superb secondary school transcript but a subpar SSCE result and a mediocre UTME score is probably the victim of disabling examination anxiety, that is, in the absence of other extenuating circumstances.

I know brilliant secondary school classmates who did poorly in the school certificate and university entrance exams because they were crippled by the dread of being graded by external examiners who didn’t teach or know them. Such students deserve an interview from admission committees, and the only way such students can be identified is if an internally administered coursework-based assessment system is instituted in secondary schools.

Like all solutions, this is isn’t foolproof. The first obvious problem is record keeping. The second is that some people can— and will— game the system. Teachers may be persuaded, coerced, or bribed to inflate grades if the grades are part of the criteria for university admission. But school certificate and UTME exams are also subject to abuse. There is no point giving examples of these abuses because everyone interested enough to read this article to this point knows what I am talking about.

Solutions are not abandoned because they are subject to abuse. Most importantly, giving this option a chance helps create a rich, diverse composite of criteria that can be used to determine the suitability of candidates for admission into universities, polytechnics, and other higher education institutions in a fair, just, and equitable manner.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Tragic Symbolic Blunders on Buhari’s National Sympathy Tour

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

The president’s reluctant decision to compensate for insensitively celebrating with his privileged friends in Kano who luxuriated in obscene opulence at a time the nation was (and still is) reeling from a string of horrendous sanguinary tragedies by visiting the nation’s hot spots has lost its symbolic worth for at least three reasons.

Symbolic gestures are appreciated only when they are not forced, when they are given willingly, or unexpectedly. That’s why people don’t appreciate birthday gifts from their significant others if the gifts are given only after they are demanded—or only after the givers are reminded. The value of the gifts isn’t in their monetary worth but in the thought that goes into buying and giving them unsolicited. It’s the same with symbolic presidential visits. Their value doesn’t lie in the immediate problems they solve because they don’t solve any problems; their value lies in their symbolism. So Buhari’s forced tour of the nation is actually symbolically worthless, but it’s at least better than his accustomed aloofness.

Nevertheless, the president appears to still be smarting from being forced to visit troubled spots in the nation. He said he should “not be expected to always go out to the field to make noise and insult the sensibility of Nigerians before it would be known that I am taking actions against the killings.” Fair enough. But does he have to attend wedding ceremonies of his elite friends even in moments of national catastrophes? Can't he be represented by a minister, the same way that he sends delegates to sites of national tragedies? Or is it only the tragedies of poor people that he doesn't have to personally attend to?

What is worse, though, is that the president is vitiating, even undermining, the whole point of the tour through his indelicate and unpresidential pronouncements in Taraba. The media reported him to have said that more people have been killed in Taraba than in Benue and Zamfara combined, adding he has a way of gathering his “own information on all the crises and killings in the country.” Exactly what purpose does this insensitive hierarchization of needless and avoidable bloodletting serve?

The president was clearly attempting to delegitimize the pains of the people of Benue and Zamfara. Nothing can be more painful than to have one’s pains made light of, especially by a person whose duty it is to comfort you. Even a single death is a tragedy whose horror shouldn’t be attenuated by odious comparisons. As Vice Chancellor of ABU, Professor Ango Abdullahi was viciously excoriated in the 1980s when he said “only two” student activists were killed by police bullets during a protest.

Buhari’s gaffe is even more egregious. He has sworn to protect all Nigerians irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, or state of origin. So why give more weight to one tragedy than others?
Already, this unwarranted presidential gradation of tragedies has rendered the president vulnerable to charges of ethnic partisanship—and for good reason. In tense moments like this, the president should be a consoler-in-chief. He shouldn’t be seen to be escalating conflicts by playing favorites.

Another tragic gaffe the president made was his insistence that he had fulfilled his campaign promise to secure the nation. “Today, even our worst enemy can attest to the fact that the APC-led federal government has done well in the area of security,” he said. “We have decimated Boko Haram, while the fight against corruption is going on well.” If government has “done well in the area of security,” why is the president on a tour of scenes of bloodletting? Why do we have more widespread bloodbaths in the nation now than at any time in recent memory?

A president who doesn’t see the contradiction in flaunting his “success” in security while on a forced sympathy tour of several parts of the country that are drenched in oceans of blood lives in an alternate universe. He is completely disconnected from reality. And that’s scary.

 I seriously doubt that Nigeria can survive a Buhari second term. The man simply doesn’t have the temperament, emotional maturity, and intellectual preparedness to govern a complex, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious country like Nigeria. Anyone who can’t see this is worse than blind.

Dapchi Girls: Buhari is Emboldening, Not Degrading, Boko Haram
The abduction of innocent school girls in Dapchi, Yobe State, is yet another evidence of the falsehood about Buhari’s “success” in downgrading Boko Haram. I have called out these lies several times in the past at the cost of inviting smears and ad hominem attacks on myself. But that’s an insignificant price to pay for standing for the truth.

Contrary to claims that his government has downgraded Boko Haram, Buhari is actually bolstering the group. For evidence, look at these facts:

As a reward for releasing 84 Chibok girls, the Buhari government paid Boko Haram a €3 million ransom, which adds up to more than 1.3 billion naira, according to the Wall Street Journal of December 4, 2017. "Several senior officials confirmed that the swap included the release of five captured militants and a total of three million euros, delivered in two drop-offs," the paper reported. "To a threadbare insurgency that had been driven into the mountains, the two payments in 2016 and 2017 represented a timely windfall. Since the insurgents collected their three million euros, some Nigerian officials say an army that had struggled to feed itself seems replenished."

Earlier in October 2016, the government paid the terrorist group what the London Guardian of October 14, 2016 called a “‘handsome ransom’ worth millions of dollars” in exchange for the release of 21 Chibok girls. “Millions of dollars” would add up to at least a billion naira. Again on February 11, 2018, the government paid Boko Haram an unspecified amount of money to free 13 hostages. In essence, Boko Haram now has a bigger, fiercer, more menacing war chest—financed from Nigeria’s public treasury— than the Nigerian military.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram’s ranks are being swelled by the same government. For instance, in addition to paying the group 705 million naira in 2017, five notoriously vicious Boko Haram commanders in the custody of Nigerian authorities were released. On January 15, 2018, the government freed 244 “repentant” Boko Haram members. How the hell did they know that they are “repentant”? And what does that even mean?  A few days ago. the government freed another 526 Boko Haram members, according to CNN. There’s more, but that’s what I remember for now. Feel free to add to this.

When you add this to the fact that on at least two occasions (according to BBC Hausa and Daily Trust), our foot soldiers who came close to capturing Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau were told to back off by unnamed honchos in Abuja, there is little doubt that the Buhari administration is an enabler of Boko Haram.

What’s even more tragic, though, is the utterly irresponsible propaganda the government spews about “technically” or “completely” defeating Boko Haram, which has anesthetized vulnerable people into a false sense of security and made them easy targets of the murderous, nihilistic terrorists.



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