Metropole Magazine

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19 Apr Written by  Ladi Opaluwa

A Short Note on Our Favourite Words

Everyday, new words pop up in the media and become instant celebrities. Yesterday’s Men and My Oga at the Top (MOATT), for example. Some fizzle as fast as they have appeared and are used only occasionally; while others remain perpetually current. A few undergo continuous rebirths provided the circumstances that necessitated their conception recur.

The situation in which these words are used may be tragic but as individuals they are funny or become comical from overuse in the media. They have entertained us and made our sorrows tolerable. If there are jokes about Boko Haram, it isn’t because members of the sect are no longer feared, but it is a way of acquainting ourselves with the dreaded: horror becomes less potent when the dreaded is familiar.

For the avoidance of nightmares, phrases like Million Man March and words predating 1999 have been pruned from the following mostly political, arbitrarily selected words and phrase.

There was a time when the talk Resource Controlwas the rave in the media. It was hard to scan the papers without reading of an ethnic group from the South-South geopolitical zone clamouring for a larger chunk of the national cake.

But this has become a yesterday’s expression, partial thanks to the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. Closely related to this is the cry of Marginalisation. Since some members of ethnic minorities became presidents of the nation and of the Senate, that, too, has been on holiday, though a working one as some sections of the country are now crying of being marginalised too.

It was previously impossible in a news piece to separate the word Amnesty from Niger Delta Militants. Now it is. All sinners deserve mercy.

In the early days of the anti-fuel subsidy removal protests in January 2012, Professor Pat Utomi tried to give the movement an original name, a name that is now difficult to remember. His effort was largely ignored, losing to our instinct of plagiarising America. Occupy Nigeriais unforgettable. It doesn’t translate well from Occupy Wall Street to the Nigerian situation; but logic is not a priority here.

Motivational Speaker, which Funmi Iyanda of the New Dawn fame called Motivational Scam, has since given way for Event and Wedding Planner scam.

With the multiplicity of government agencies and committees, Chairman will continue to trend both in official places and on the streets. See Victor Ehikhamenor’s “Excuse Me!” for details.

Fourteen years after, we finally admit that our democracy is no longer recent and drop the frequent usage of the term Nascent Democracy in excusing electoral fraud. At peak moments of ethno-religious crises, a call for Sovereign National Conference is made but never heeded.

Seven-Point Agenda and its successor,Transformation Agenda, both sound creepy, like ‘hidden agenda’.

Credible Polls, aka Free and Fair Elections will not be trending until 2015. Likewise Internal Democracy, which is most common in the months preceding general elections, when party primaries are held. It is not uncommon to hear of ACN, by then APC perhaps, taunting PDP for lacking internal democracy, and possibly vice versa.

What would the Nigerian journalist do without the word Reiterate? It is the verb of choice used to link the vacuous promises of politicians to the legitimate expectations of the masses. Government is often quoted as ‘reiterating its commitment to the full implementation of Sure-P,’ ‘reiterating its commitment to the speedy completion of the Lokoja-Abuja Road,’ ‘reiterating its commitment to bring to book the perpetrators of this hideous crime’. And what happens?

Dr. Reuben Abati suffered nearly as much for Yesterday’s Men as does Mr. Shem Obafaiye for MOATT, which must have been repeated a billion times since that doomed television interview. If Mr. Obafaiye does nothing else in his life, he would be remembered and praised for coining and popularising this original phrase. What about even a national honour?