Formally seizing opportunities

SAMPLE 1: “The Governor of Ondo State and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu visited the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at his Lagos residence today. He ceased the opportunity to also visit his counterpart, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu… ‘Today, I visited our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and my brother Babajide Sanwo-Olu to formerly introduce my Deputy Governor designate, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa…’(Photo: Akeredolu visited Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Sanwo-Olu ahead of Ondo poll, Opera News Hub, 31 July, 2020)

We note the word ceased which occurs in the context: “he ceased the opportunity to also visit his counterpart…” Anyone who is familiar with the idiom will immediately note the oddity of the word ceased in the context under consideration. People are said to seize opportunities and not cease them. It should be obvious to sufficiently literate readers that the writer has mixed up the usage of seize and cease. The problem here, manifest in many Nigerian users of English, is at once that of pronunciation, spelling and grammar.

It should be helpful, at this point, to illustrate the respective usage of seize and cease.

When you seize a thing, you take it by force or by law.

The following sentences illustrate how the verb is used:

The army first seized power in Nigeria in 1966.

The police have seized the contraband.

They seized the thief by the hand.

The manager seized the opportunity of the industrial action to appoint people close to him into key positions.

The handsets were seized by the teacher because the pupils were playing with them while the class was in progress.

Acting on a court order, the EFCC has commenced the process of seizing the politician’s properties.

The boys seized the opportunity of their father’s absence to use his car.

The students should have seized the opportunity of the long strike to learn some trades.

The noun form of seize is seizure e.g.  The frequent seizure of power by the army has truncated the growth of democracy in developing countries.

Now we illustrate the usage of the word cease:

To cease is to stop or come to an end or go out of existence. Read the following sentences:

The law has ceased to exist.

The College has ceased offering courses in management.

He ceased coming to school last week.

The shenanigans of the politicians do not cease to intrigue international observers.

Lack of regular supply of electricity has forced many factories to cease operations.

The government’s involvement in the funding of such businesses will cease as from the next fiscal year.

Education ceases when life ceases.

The noise went on for hours without ceasing.

When hope ceases, life ceases.

I stopped writing when ideas ceased to flow.

The word can also be used as a noun as shown in the sentences that follow:

He has been working without cease.

John has been writing without cease

The eminent writer has been churning out poetry without cease.

The complaints have been going on without cease.

For weeks, they were quarrelling without cease.

Another noun form of the word is cessation. Read the following sentences:

Death is cessation of life.

He appealed for cessation of war.

We look forward to cessation of insurgency in the North East of Nigeria.

The UNO is working towards the cessation of hunger in the Third World countries.

Peace does not necessarily mean cessation of misunderstanding.

Size:

The noun size has to do with dimension or measurement. Read the following sentences:

That shirt is not my size.

The blouse is a size or two too large.

That building is about the size of ours.

Ready-made dresses come in different sizes.

The size of a family should correspond to the size of the building it occupies.

It does not seem that the size of our economy is proportionate to the size of our population.

Do not judge a shop by its size but by the value of the merchandise inside it.

The size of a human head has nothing to do with the quality of the brains it contains.

The quality of your meal is more important than the size of your meal.

I’m trying to size him up.

Sentences (1) – (9) are about measurement or dimension.  In sentence (10),   the word size is used as a verb.  In that sense, it is a colloquial expression meaning to form a judgment or opinion about.

Please read my own sentences again and form sentences of your own using the word size.  Note the spelling and meanings.

At any rate, the word seized should replace ceased in the context under review.

Next, we note the word formerly as used in the following context: “I visited our national leader…to formerly introduce my Deputy Governor designate…” It should be obvious that the word has been used in confusion with formally. The contextual meaning tells us in clear terms that the reporter has picked a wrong word. The word belonging to that context is formally.

There is a difference between formally and formerly, a difference often blurred in the Nigerian perception by poor pronunciation. Next, we illustrate the difference in meaning and usage between former(ly) and formal(ly). Now read the following sentences: 1) It was surprising that a former chairman of our party could be so shameless as to join another party. 2) He earns much more salary here than he did in his former employment. 3) Disciplined and respectable as he seems, he has had two former wives. 4) Former students of the institution are holding meetings on the possibility of giving it a facelift. 5) In former times, Sanitary Inspectors had some of the powers reserved exclusively today for the police. 6) I ran into a former classmate who introduced me to the new business. 7) Two former governors are being prosecuted for embezzlement and related corrupt practices. 8) It is interesting listening to the testimonies of the former armed robber, now an evangelist.  9) One of the guests is a former beauty queen. 10) One of the governors is a former labour leader. 11) The clinic was formerly housed in an old property belonging to the Local Government. 12) The school formerly belonged to a Christian Mission. 13) The young man was formerly working with an expatriate firm. 14) Our rates of pay were formerly higher than those of the civil servants. 15) It was formerly thought that the earth was flat. 16) Mathematics was formerly regarded as an arts subject. 17) The Nigerian economy formerly ranked among the strongest in the third world countries. 18) The English language formerly belonged exclusively to the British Isles. 19) The nursing profession was formerly associated with women only. 20) Twins were formerly believed to be demons or gods unfit to live with humans.

The word formal(ly) has to do with official situations or conditions or behaviour. Now read the following sentences: 1) It is now time to formally welcome our guests. 2) The former leaders have not formally handed over to the new leaders. 3) The President formally announced the dissolution of the council yesterday. 4) The formal inauguration of the 8th Senate was characterized by controversy. 5) The occasion was declared open formally by the Vice Chancellor. 6) Formal education in modern times is synonymous with western education. 7) Before any other thing, we must have formal introduction. 8) Nobody can occupy a position like that without formal training. 9) The case will be presented formally today. 10) To be admitted into the hall, you have to be formally dressed. 11) Jokes of that nature should not be cracked on formal occasions. 12) A formal meeting is being arranged between the new Senate President and the President of the Federal Republic. 13) A letter has been written formally appointing him as MD. 14) Since the meeting has not adjourned formally, nobody should leave. 15) The chairman formally assumed duty last Wednesday. 16) The Matriculation day is the day new students are formally admitted into the university system. 17) The so-called engagement is the occasion the future groom’s parents formally request the future bride’s parents to release their daughter to them. 18) Retirement marks the retiree’s formal disengagement from service. 19) This is not an occasion for formal, boring speeches but for celebration and jollity. 20) The book will be formally presented to the public before the end of the year.

At any rate, the word formally should replace formerly in the context under review.

 

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