image NIGERIAN EXPRESSIONS THAT SEEM ENGLISH BUT ARE NOT. THIS IS A COMPILATION OF WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS COMMONLY USED BY NIGERIANS. THESE WORDS SEEM TO BE ENGLISH IN NATURE, BUT THEY [by THEY, I mean the meaning attached to them] ACTUALLY ARE NOT TRACEABLE TO THE ENGLISH VOCABULARY. SOME ARE INCORRECTLY USED, SOME ARE GIVEN DIFFERENT CONNOTATIONS, SOME ARE ANGLICISED NIGERIAN TERMS AND OTHERS DO NOT HAVE ENLISH ORIGINS BUT SEEM TO DO. MANY OF THESE WORDS ARE SLANGS, BUT SOME ARE NOT BECAUSE THE ARE USED IN FORMAL SETTINGS. {PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL DEFINITIONS USED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE EXTRACTED FROM THE MERRIAM-WEBSTER DICTIONARY} Area: [noun] this is a usually metallic device for radiating or receiving radio waves. The appropriate substitute is antenna. Example: Please change the bearing of the area, it’s not picking up any signal. Big boy/Big girl: [noun] this is a pretty common Nigerian phrase that is used to refer to youths [teenagers and adolescents] that are gregarious, extroverted, proud and often well-to-do. These type of youths are usually singers, cyber-criminals and playboys. Example: Don’t mind Tunde’s attitude, he’s a big boy now. Cassava flakes: [noun] this is a tush way of referring to the common garri [i.e. processed cassava soaked in water] drank in all parts of the country. Chinko: [noun & adjective] this is used to refer to people who come from China, or products, especially mobile phones, that are ‘made in china’. In English, the proper usage is without ‘o’ i.e. ‘chink’. Example: I wouldn’t recommend that you buy a chinko. Chop: [verb] this simply means to eat. But it can also mean to enjoy or maximise an opportunity to the fullest. Example: Take me to a near-by restaurant, I want to chop before going to work. Coded: [adjective] if something is coded, then it is either surreptitious or complicated. It is best known and understood by the speaker. Example: My relationship with her is coded, and I don’t have to speak about it. Collabo: [noun] this is an abbreviated form of the word ‘collaboration’. It is mostly used in the entertainment industry to mean partnership between musicians in the production of a song. Example: The song is a product of the collabo between 9ice and Tu face. Collabo [verb]; is to enter into partnership with someone, especially a singer. 2. It may also mean to make love with someone. Corper: [noun] a corper is someone who is serving the country through the NYSC [National Youth Service Corp] scheme. Most corpers are transferred from their state of residence to neighbouring or distant places to render near-free services to their motherland and to get more experience as well as exposure by so doing. Since, they are often trained and monitored by the military, the word probably has its origin in the army rank: corporal which is above a private first class and below a sergeant and in the marine corps, above a lance corporal and below a sergeant. Example: The government is yet to pay the corpers in Oyo sate. Doe: [noun] simply means money or cash. Example: Gimme more doe, then we can discuss. Environmental: [noun] a non-Nigerian might be confused when he hears that this word is a noun, not an adjective. Well, Nigerians make use of this word as a short-form of ‘environmental sanitation’, a monthly exercise in which people clean-up their houses and its surroundings, gathering the dirt for government to dispose. Example: Please, when is the next environmental taking place? Express: [noun] this word is erroneously used in Nigeria to mean a highway i.e. a wide road that connects two major cities, and is less trafficked. Example: An accident is reported to have occurred on the express. Face-towel: [noun] this is a small absorbent clothe used mainly for drying the face. We have hand towels, beach towels, kitchen towels, sanitary towels, tea towels but no face towels. The equivalent expression used in English countries in possibly towelette. Example: I need to get face-towel, I’m sweating profusely. Flash: [verb] this is in fact one of the most popular words that fall into this category. It means dialling a phone number, allowing it to ring and then intentionally end the call. Rather than use this word, variants such as phone, telephone, call, ring up and dial are more suitable as they can also mean an attempt to reach someone by phone, not necessarily having a conversation with that person. Notwithstanding, flash is still the most perfect word to use, a very nice innovation that fits into the current state of the economy. Example: Don’t worry, when I get to your apartment, I will flash your number. Fleet: [verb] to spray liquid substance from a container, most especially insecticide, into a particular place. I was surprised when I found that the word ‘fleet’, in actualty, does not mean this. Example: Make sure you fleet your room with ‘ota fia-fia’ before going to sleep. Four-One-Nine/419: [noun] this is a felonious crime of obtaining title to another’s property by knowingly making false representations with the intention of defrauding the victim. It is known in legal parlance as false pretence. Most people use this word [419] without knowing the origin. Why is it 419 and not any other set of figures? This is because it is section 419 of the Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that states the meaning, criminality and sanction of this crime. Someone who commits this crime is liable to ‘imprisonment for three [3] years. Example: Due to unemployment, everybody is now engaging in 419. {note that this word may also refer to the person engaging in false pretence} Globe: [noun] this is word that actually means a spherical representation of the earth, a celestial body, or the heavens. However, in Nigeria it is used to connote a lamp that is partially globe in shape. The apposite words to use in replace are ‘bulb’ or ‘lightbulb’. Example: Please switch-off that globe, it’s consuming too much electricity. Go-slow: [noun] in the English vocabulary, this means a slowdown or retardation in business, spread of a disease etc. However, it is used in Nigeria exclusively to mean a traffic jam in which there is slow movement of vehicles. See hold-up. Example: I’m sorry for coming late, it is due to the go-slow along Lagos-Ibadan express way. Hammer: [verb] if someone hammers, then he has just hit it big i.e. he has suddenly, sometimes unexpectedly, gained a huge sum of money. This may be as a result of participation in a contest, lottery or fraud. Example: Everybody gets a free drink today, I just hammered big-time. Hold-up: [noun] this is a traffic situation in which vehicles are temporarily [but for a long period of time] at a halt. Hardly is there any form of movement, as against go-slow in which there is movement, but a minimal rate. Example: Please go on with the meeting, I am in a hold-up. Jack: [verb] to jack is to study persistently for hours, most especially in preparation for an oncoming examination. It’s a common usage in the university environment. I recently learnt that there are different ways to it, such as MTN [from Morning Till Night], TDB [Till Day Break] and so on. It means, in English, to fish in the night using a jacklight, to raise the level of something or to take to task. Example: Is it true Emeka fainted today as a result of excessive jacking? Jazz: [noun] popularly known as “juju” by the Yorubans, this an act of affecting another’s thinking or condition through the use of magical powers, or an object that symbolises this act. The English equivalents are charm and mojo. Example: While in the exam. hall, I forgot all I read. I must have been under the influence of jazz Kobalise: [verb] this word has its root in the Yoruba expression ‘koba’ which was anglicised through the addition of ‘lise’. It means to expose a bitter truth or dark secret about someone, or what that person has done and prefers to remain undisclosed. Example: Why did you kobalise the principal? Now the whole knows he’s having an affair with Mrs Johnson. Machinery: [noun] a person whose professional services are employed and paid for, often illegally, by a group or organisation, especially in order to win a contest against another group or organisation. The closest word to this, in meaning, in the English vocabulary is mercenary. Example: Their soccer team undoubtedly won because they hired skilful machineries. Mama-put: [noun] a local restaurant where foods are sold at relatively low prices. Example: I do not like patronising mama-puts, the hygiene of their foods cannot be guaranteed. Momcy/Momsy/Mumcy/Mumsy: [noun] this means mom. Synonyms include mother, ma, mama, mamma, momma, mammy, mommy and old lady. Example: Momcy is about to be delivered of a baby boy. On-point: [adjective] when something is on point, it is perfect for a purpose or for an occasion, and it needs no modification. Synonyms include spot-on, precise, exact, on-target, dead-on etc. Example: Oh my God, that dressing is just on-point. 2. It may also serve the purpose of emphasis for a particular activity or event you are engaging in or you are planning to engage in. Example: Wedding [things] on-point. Palm: [noun] this is a type of foot-wear, made of rubber, leather or any thick material, which, unlike shoes and sandals, does not cover or support the heels/back side of the foot. Example: A lot of my foot-wears are palms because they are very easy to put on. Pant: [noun] this, in correct usage, means an outer garment covering each leg separately and usually extending from the waist to the ankle [usually used in plural just like ‘trousers’]. But in Nigeria, if you tell someone to take off his pants for an X-ray test, he will definitely be amazed and quizzical. This is because he considers the word to mean knickers or underpants. Example: My most of my pants are size 42. Player: [noun] a player is someone who flirts a lot, has many of girlfriends and is very promiscuous. It has a similar but not exact meaning of ‘playboy’. Example: Didn’t you know Femi is player before you went ahead to date him? Popcy/Popsy/Pop-man: [noun] simply means Dad. Synonyms include father, old man, pop, poppa, pa, papa and daddy. Also see Momsy. Example: I’ll see popsy today concerning my school fees. Runs: [noun] this means the process in which something is done or sought, perhaps examination, admission, youth service etc. Example: How is school runs? Runs [verb]; using an unlawful or inappropriate method to achieve success in a particular thing. The funny thing about this word is what you arrive at when you attempt to figure out the present continuous and future tenses. Do we say ‘runses’ or ‘runsed’? Example: Did Tunde runs his UTME? Shack: [verb] in the English vocabulary, it is a noun that means a hut, room or any similar enclosure. But in Nigeria, it is a variant of the word ‘drink’, only that it is mostly used for alcoholic substances. Example: I hope you have something I can shack in here? Slippers: [noun] or bathroom slippers: this is also a common usage in Nigeria. It is used in reference to foot-wears that are light, open and made of rubber. They are indoor wears that are mostly used in the bathroom while having a bath. The word does exist in the English vocabulary but it depicts a different type of foot-wear which is not open, not made of rubber and perhaps used while sleeping. It is worthy of note that the which this word often erroneously refers to is, in actualty, what is called a pair of ‘flip-flops’.  Example: Please get me a pair of slippers, I need to use the bathroom. Tape-rule: [noun] this is a wrong variant of the words tape and tape-measure. It is a narrow strip of limp cloth or steel tape marked off in units, such as units or centimetres, for measuring. Example: I cannot cut your cloth if I don’t have a tape-rule. Things/Thingy: [noun] used to give emphasis to a particular activity Example: Exam. things. Toast: [verb] does this not mean to make something turn brown by heating it? NO! At least, not in the Nigerian colloquial usage. Rather it means the act of flirting [i.e. behaving amorously without serious intent] with another, especially one belonging to the opposite sex. A toaster refers to one who is fond of toasting, or who is flirtatious in nature. Example: I am tired of toasting here and there, it is high time I settled down. Tush:[noun & adjective] In England, this word means a long pointed tooth and is a slang for buttocks, but here in Nigeria it means something else, an expression or somebody that is classy. Example: I love Whiz kid, the guy is just tush. Tush up [verb]; to fancy up an object or to become classier than before. Example: Please Dad, try and tush up a little. You can’t come to my convocation looking like that. Yuppy: [noun] this is used to refer to a type of motorcycle, better known to Britons as Moped. I hardly see it again. If you want to know what it looks like, buy an Indian movie. Example: Where did you get this yuppy? I didn’t know they still use these. MORE COMING SOON !




Let the mountain stand in pride,
let the oceans roll and tide,
let the trees wave their side,
fall in summer when they are dried.

Let the breeze reel and ride,
let the animals play and hide,
let the moon above us guide,
the groom to the arm of his bride.

Stars above us there reside,
like Gold, gold in our eyes divide,
let the earth where we abide,
give us good harvest dignified.

Green, green, green inside,
beautiful colours that we can’t hide,
sky and earth has solely replied,
natural beauty we show with pride.




The garment of innocence is torn.
Virtues have faltered.
Son of noble birth.
Where is your chastity?
Bound in his killing fists with steel.
Led to the jailyard.
I mourn you!
The Magistrate says:
‘Are you guilty or inculpable”
A speckle of suspense glows on everyone’s
Followed by quakes.
From my heart.
The looks of perplexity on the Barristers.
Everybody adjusts his buttocks on the
Visible thread of sweat courses down the
accused’s brow.
Audu answers;
with verbal dexterity.
But with a soul defiled with Criminality.
An admix of confusion and suprise.
Thirty minute Recess.
Everybody looks upon the tree of Justice
and pleads.
For an apple fall.
The limbs of Law have paralyzed?
To sanction Criminality.
‘Break’ is over.
The guardian of the Law enters the verdict
Everyone bows.
Not for the Judge.
But for the arrival of Blind Justice.
The defendant pouted his bare chest.
Popped out his fiery eyes.
Slapping Justice on his face.
With on impunity.
His counsel argues weakly.
And dived into realms of fallacy.
The prosecutor vehemented and wooed
The Magistrate looks down and frowns.
‘My hands are tied’Said he.
Woe to Audu,woe to criminality.
Woe to larceny and carnage.
Bound to his teeth to the Jailyard.
And jubilatory sighs seek the air.




Dear mother, change!
Do not deem my words as verbiage
Do not treat them as garbage
For out of an exiguous age,
There may emerge a judicious sage

Dear mother, change!
I am in a wild outrage
I feel like I am held hostage
For my brothers,
It is always an overage
But my own lot,
Is outages and multiplex shortage

Dear mother, change!
Change your attitude towards my personage
Liberate me from this bondage
All I seek is good parentage
I have nowhere to voyage
Only with you is my heritage
And from you is my lineage

Yours sincerely,
The common man



BLAME ME NOT: Sequel to Dear Mother, Why?

Wherefore, mother

Blame me not
If I take up arms against my brothers
If I steal from them and make them shudder
Blame me not
If due to my ignorance,
I detonate myself and deny others a living chance
Blame me not
If I take to drug trafficking and cyber-crime
Because I do not have no dime
Blame me not
If I exile myself from this God-forsaken nation,
To seek green pastures in distant habitations
Blame me not
If I dishonour you mother
If my actions shame you in front others
Blame me not mother
For It is not my frailty
It is you who neglected your duty

From your kiddo,
The common fellow.




DATE: November 23, 2011.

The word ‘youth’ means young people in general. Since you are young and I am young, then we are the youths.
Corruption is undoubtedly a negative trend that is widespread not only in Nigeria but all-over the world. Corruption is the reason education is not free. Corruption is the reason our schools lack basic amenities. It is the reason commodities such as food and oil are becoming more expensive by the day. Corruption is the reason the government is finding it hard to pay the 18 thousand naira minimum wage. In fact, it is also the reason why groups such as the Niger-Delta militants, MEND and Boko-haram etc. are springing up. Corruption is responsible for poverty, unemployment, social decay, educational backwardness and many other ills in our society.
Corruption is defined in the dictionary as dishonest, illegal or immoral behaviour, especially from someone with power. Therefore, corruption is not only restricted to government offices. Every sector in the country, be it economic, academic, political, social or religious, are affected by this evil called corruption.
However, it is defined by transparency international as behaviour on the part of officials in the public sector, whether politicians or civil servants, in which they improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves or those close to them by the misuse of public power.
Nigeria is one of the most infamous nations for corruption in the world. It was ranked in 2007, according to the transparency int’l corruption perception index, as the 147th least corrupt country, Ghana ranked number 69 and South Africa, 45.
It is very unfortunate that a whopping 80% of our oil wealth goes to less than 1% of the entire population.
Sanni Abacha is allegedly the 4th most corrupt President for embezzling up to 2-5 billion US dollars.
According to the world bank, between 1960 and 1999 , $400 billion was stolen. That is a staggering amount of money because if you were to put 400 billion dollar bills end-to-end, you could make 75 round trips to the moon . concretely, those 400 billion dollars could have translated into millions of vaccinations for children, thousands of kilometres of roads, hundreds of schools, hospitals and water treatment facilities that never came to be.
Seeing how inimical corruption is to the growth of our economy and success of the youths, then we no doubt will agree that it is important for us to fight it head-on. Fighting corruption should not only be the duty of bodies like EFCC, NDLEA, SSS, ICPC and so on. We the youths also have a role to play in tackling it. So, as youths, what are we expected to do to abate and curb this negative trend?
First and foremost, we need to always do what is right. Mahatma Gandhi, the man that liberated India from the shackles of Imperialism, once said; ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. If you want our leaders to be honest and less corrupt, you also must be honest in all your dealings. It is ridiculous to accuse a person of a crime that you yourself are guilty of. So let us examine ourselves right now. How many of us can proudly beat our chest and say we have never consciously told a lie before? How many can beat their chest and say we have never taken what does not belong to us? How many of us in this gathering can unequivocally claim that we have never engaged in examination mal-practice? The truth is that almost all if not all of us have engaged in one corrupt activity or the other. We need to change our attitude if want our leaders to change theirs, because personal development is a prerequisite to national development. And the incontrovertible fact is that our personality cannot be good if our mentality is wrong. If you are the type that goes about with the mental-mind that corruption is justifiable means to an end, if you are the type that seeks for a public office because of private gains; then you are a liability to this nation
In short, we need to evaluate ourselves and determine the extent of our corruption. After the evaluation, we must endeavour to correct our mentality i.e. it must be at the back of our minds that corruption is wrong and it cannot get you anything that will last-long. It will only cause us shame and embarrassment. After adjusting our mentality, it must show in our personality. We should not be the ones that will be caught in acts such as lying, theft, bribery, favouritism, exam mal-practice, embezzlement etc.
Secondly, in our fight against corruption we should preach what is right. What I mean by this is that you spread the message to your friends, family, relatives and even stranger, whenever you have the chance and by whatever means is at your disposal. It may be through the school magazine, through morning talks on the assembly ground, through the social network, the internet in general etc.
Thirdly and lastly is that you need to demand what is right from others, the leaders and people in power. If it is your class captain/prefect that you find culpable of corrupt practices, call him/her to order. If he/she fails to take to correction, report him/her or take other disciplinary actions against such person. If it is your teacher, do the same. The future does not belong to cowards. Wole Soyinka once wrote, ‘he dies he who keeps silent in the face of tyranny’. Gani Fawhinmi also said, ‘stand on the right thing, even if you are the only one standing’. Any leader that is corrupt is a tyrannical and despotic ruler because he is self-centred and he fails to consider the outcries and interests of his followers. We must note that the best way to demand what is right from people in power without prejudice is if we ourselves do not benefit from their corrupt activities.
In summation, to tackle corruption we should ensure we always think the right way, do the right thing, preach the right thing and demand the right thing. We must say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH to corruption if we desire to move forward.



Spoken Word Poetry by political activist
and poet, EFE PAUL AZINO


Justice has been kidnapped in my country
and nobody’s willing to pay her ransom
She was absent at the tribunal when the
verdict was given,
So the marauders were declared winners,
even though we know the votes were
Chaos convulses the land, we’re on the
verge of catastrophe, the tranquility’s been
We can’t even piece together the peace,
Justice has been kidnapped somebody
please call the police!
But my friends mock my naiveté
Poets that they are, they blaspheme,
Claiming the patriotic men in uniform are
part of the conspiracy.
Justice has been kidnapped in my country
and nobody’s willing to pay her ransom
When was she last seen? Errrr, I can’t
She was missing in the years of IBB when
Dele Giwa was blown to pieces,
She was absent when Abacha reigned and
Justice Auta hit the gavel, Saro Wiwa was
To hell with the critics.
Justice has been missing in my country for
so long,
The 4th republic gave us a made-up
version of her
But she was promiscuous and so wrong,
Worst of all she could see.
Distinguishing between foes and friends of
the government ,
Working through the hands of the EFCC.
Which reminds me,
Nuhu Ribadu was acclaimed her
champion, that dispensation’s faithful
Until wiki leaked, and we heard him sing
like a canary,
Humming a different tune before the
In fact, Justice has missing since the 1st
republic when Awo was thrown in prison
for treason,
Since the soil in Oloibiri bled oil,
And the windfall from the boom
accentuated our division.
Believe now
Justice has been lost since Nigeria was
A friend said he saw her at Mile 12, lately
When a pick pocket was mobbed and set
ablaze, maybe
That was Justice, but I’m still not sure,
Cos I see sticky manipulated politicians
and officials roaming free, even on TV,
sitting in the assembly were they make
Justice come home we miss you,
Justice come back we need you,
Justice we weep for everyday,
Even the Church can’t remember what you
look like
Though for you they fast and pray.
Activists and youths
Tweet, blog, even march on the streets in
protest for you,
But I don’t trust them, cos while their
leaders get famous
I still don’t see Justice free amongst us.
I wrote a poem for you Justice,
But I fear that’s the best I’m willing to do. I
guess I’m just as guilty.
Just as complicit as the politicians and
Judges, the police and all of civil society,
Who speak like they love you, but won’t
dare to bleed
To see you freed.
Justice has been kidnapped in my country
And for her freedom we’re not willing to
pay the cost
But until she’s found
We, my people, will be lost
Justice has been kidnapped in my country
And nobody, not even you, is willing to pay
her ransom.



Written for the purpose of UI PEEPS’ MOMMAs’ NIGHT.
Date: 20th of November, 2012