1. 50 naira: (n) A highly valuable piece of paper that serves as alternative vehicle papers including the certificate of road-worthiness, purchase documents, proof of ownership, number plate receipt and, sometimes, even the driver’s licence. Once presented to a law enforcement officer, it certifies a vehicle to be legit and the driver to be of good behaviour. Sometimes though, it may need to be offered in multiples to be convincing.

2. Dangote truck: (n) The most fearsome phenomenon on the road; monstrous lorries belonging to Africa’s richest man but driven by Africa’s craziest people.

3. Electoral tribunal: (n) A group of law graduates who determine who wins an election, with the distribution of votes cast being their least concern.

4. Endangered species: (n) See wildlife.

5. Fake news: (n) Lies that are unpatriotic or otherwise do not serve the interests of the present-day government.

6. Federal government: (n) The central government that is grossly incapable of providing for and protecting the people but will also not allow regional governments to give it a shot.

7. Footballer: (n) Someone who has multiple children but plays soccer in a league meant for one of them—possibly the youngest.

8. Hate speech: (n) Normal speech, but which someone who thinks the world revolves around them finds offensive.

9. Headline: (n) A sentence written in big font sizes and which is the topmost part of an article. It is often misunderstood as the summary of a news report but is rather, at times, simply saying, “This is what not to expect from this story.”

10. Hospital: (n) A place where people receive treatment only if they have money and, in case they are unfortunate to be injured, a police report confirming they are not armed robbers.

11. New year resolution: (n) An ambitious plan for improvement that is intended to last forever but whose lifespan is usually a maximum of two weeks, and which is repeated every first day of January.

12. Nigeria: (n) The world’s biggest market for second-hand goods and rechargeable gadgets.

13. Passenger: (n) A form of sardine that walks on two legs, is incapable of feeling discomfort, and whose purpose in life is to pay taxi and bus drivers to be transported from one place to the other. Passengers do not mind being squeezed in tiny spaces inside any vehicle nor do they mind lapping themselves as long as they get to their destination still breathing.

14. Pension: (n) In the case of government workers, if they are lucky, it is money paid to their children or grandchildren long after they have retired from service and are late.

15. Ritualist: (n) Someone who earns a living from magically making money for others but who somehow isn’t smart enough to do the same for himself.

16. Road safety official: (n) A law enforcement agent often found around places where the road is most unsafe — not to make it safer but rather to keep their pockets safely nourished.

17. School: (n) A place you go to learn big words only to realise later you don’t need them.

18. Taskforce: (n) A group of people who earn money from depriving others, often poorer than themselves, of their earnings.

19. Tourist centre: (n) A place you go to remind yourself of your country’s countless problems by experiencing what a tourist centre should not look like.

20. War: (n) A costly quarrel that countries with enough expendable citizens and money to waste are quick to get into and reluctant to get out of.

21. Weird: (adj) Used to refer to a perfectly normal person who makes the mistake of interacting with others.

22. Wildlife: (n) Food. If they are in the zoo, they are starved food. Anywhere else, they are food to the starving.

23. Zebra crossing: (n) A row of parallel white lines painted on major roads to beautify them and generally make a city look modern, and which have been found to confuse and endanger the lives of people with an ‘abroad mentality’ who think the lines serve some other purpose.


Click here to check out other entries in the Village People’s Dictionary. This is all the clarity you need to understand English words from, I am sure you would agree, the very unusual Nigerian context.

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