Historically, every administration has added hitherto infrequently used words to the lexicon of Nigerians.
President Buhari’s administration (2015-2019) is not an exception. We looked for a hole to run into and cover our embarrassment when Mr. President stood before the whole world and relegated all women, beginning from his outspoken wife, to a place called “za oza room”. FYI, we totally wore that t-shirt!
Also, we never knew something called “body language” could rule a nation of 200 million people until this administration told us so.
As we expectantly wait for a new administration or a continuation of the old one, we can’t help but wonder the new words the administration will add to our lexicon.
And as we wait, we can recall previous administrations and the words or phrases we remember them by.
We can’t go all the way back to the beginning of Nigeria’s independence. And we will consider only words or phrases that emanated directly from the administrations.
Therefore, articles by ET lookalike journalists referring to their president as an “ineffectual buffoon” don’t count. Also excluded are employees trying to pass the blame to their “oga-at-the-top” (we also wore that t-shirt).
1. General Ibrahim Babangida (Head of State) 1985-1993
We remember General Babangida’s attempt at leadership as the period our parents refused to buy everything our little hearts wanted.
They kept repeating “austerity measures” until we got tired of hearing it. They said the government wanted them to “cut their coat according to their cloth”, and to concentrate more on “essential commodities”.
To this day, we still hate the words “essential commodities”.
2. General (Mr.) Sani Abacha (Head of State) 1993-1998
On one hand, he was deviously exchanging his military toga for an agbada. While on the other hand, he was threatening to deal decisively with anyone wanting to usurp his throne.
Of course if you are a dictator, you would need such tough words in your dictionary.
All we remember of General (Mr.) Abacha’s time is the word; decisively.
3. General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Head of State) 1998-1999
Yes, you’re right. Nigeria does have a lot of generals in her history.
And this particular general kept telling us “transition, transition, transition”. Before he came on board, we thought “transition” was the word you put on a death announcement!
4. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (President) 1999-2007
1999 was the year we resurrected our democracy. We made sure to handle it with care. It was like a shiny new toy our parents just bought for us and warned us not to break.
So it was no wonder that the administration kept chanting that it would not be “business as usual” even when reality pointed to the contrary.
And whereas the word “demolition” previously described what we did to a plate of hot pounded yam and Afang soup, this administration made sure we highlighted it in our dictionary for all the wrong reasons.
Words Obasanjo’s administration gave us: business as usual, demolition.
5. Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (President) 2007-2010
President Yar’Adua did not stay long in Aso Rock. But in the brief period that he did, his administration gave us the word “amnesty”. Unlike previous administrations, this new addition to the lexicon of Nigerians positively changed the fortunes of the nation for a time.
6. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan (President) 2010-2015
If “stakeholders” was a person, we would bundle it up and throw it to the farthest reaches of the North Pole.
Nothing was done in President Jonathan’s government without telling us about stakeholders. Even the August meeting of village women involved stakeholders. Abeg, who are the stakeholders of August meetings except fat, entitled housewives? Seriously, two lifetimes are not enough to put a distance between us and the word “stakeholders”.
But as annoying and prevalent as the word stakeholders was, it still isn’t the only word President Jonathan’s administration gave Nigerians.
Who can forget an exasperated and frustrated First Lady shouting “na only you waka come?” to an indifferent Principal?
Although this statement marks a very sad time in Nigeria’s history, nevertheless, many citizens can’t go two seconds without asking, “na only you waka come?” or reiterating “no be only me waka come” to express one sentiment or the other.
We can bet the new administration will have some annoying, threatening, peace-building, or downright ludicrous words to add to our lexicon.
What other words or phrases did we leave out?