Grammar lessons from Banky W’s NIN tweet

I love Banky W’s music. But the liking goes beyond his artistic prowess. He is one of those politically conscious artistes who are never shy to intervene on issues affecting the country and world at large. I believe his has also been a success that does not depend on scandals.

It is on record that Banky W contested in the House of Representatives election during the 2019 elections. He  advanced compelling ideas and programmes and gave the fight all he could. He did not win, but he is alive to fight again.

On the controversy and fears surrounding the National Identification Number registration by the Federal Government, he recently expressed his feelings and his submission is, as usual, instructive. He tweeted (sic):

“In the middle of the pandemic, this is how our Nigerian Government has its citizens queuing up to get their NIN numbers. Completely reckless, inconsiderate and dangerous. Then tomorrow the NCDC will release covid-19 infection rates and say social distancing. This country sha. Kai.

“@NCDCgov @NigeriaGov @NGRPresident This is completely irresponsible of us as a country, to insist on this mad scramble for NIN numbers in the middle of covid-19 2nd wave. People are dying. We should be smarter/wiser/better than this for goodness sake.”

The points are well made. It’s only left for the powers that be to do the needful on the matter. Now, let’s consider three usages in the tweet, through which we can learn one or two things grammar-wise. First, Banky W’s punctuation in the piece is generally inspiring. The commas are where they are supposed to be; so also are the full stops and others. This is unlike many people who display recklessness and a nonchalant attitude whenever they are writing on social media. They do not bother to put in the marks, ending sentences without periods, asking questions without putting question marks.  They unfortunately carry the habit over to formal writings.

Secondly, watch Banky’s spelling of ‘queuing’ in the tweet. It is a tricky word that demands tact in terms of spelling. The challenge begins with the base, ‘queue’. Then, the continuous form, which is either queueing or queuing. The musician prefers the latter, which is shorter and arguably less cumbersome than the first. The lesson here is that you should master the spelling of the expression and its other forms as many people mishandle it.

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Of course, you should also note the correct preposition in ‘in the queue’, not ‘on queue’:

Are you on queue? (Wrong)

Are you in the queue? (Correct)

If you want me to attend to you, you have to be on the queue like others. (Wrong)

If you want me to attend to you, you have to be in the queue like others. (Correct)

Lastly, I have an observation about how the ‘Heaven’ singer used ‘goodness’ in his tweet. It is the way most of us handle and spell the word in the context but there is an issue with it. Indeed, a lot of us are fond of writing for heavens sake, for posterity sake etc.

It is wrong because the expressions ought to show possession. It is a case of for someone’s sake or for something’s sake, thus answering the question: whose sake? As a result, an apostrophe is required:

For goodness sake, let the man go home and rest. (Wrong)

For goodness’ sake, let the man go home and rest. (Correct)

For heavens sake, return the car tomorrow. (Wrong)

For heaven’s sake, return the car tomorrow. (Correct)

For posterity sake, go there and beg them. (Wrong)

For posterity’s sake, go there and beg them. (Correct)

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