The Presidency has on Tuesday, December 11, 2019, reacted to the decision by Punch to henceforth refer to President Muhammadu Buhari as Major General Buhari.
In an editorial titled “Buhari’s lawlessness: Our Stand”, Punch stated that it will “henceforth prefix Buhari’s name with his rank as a military dictator in the 80s ‘Major General’ and refer to his administration as a regime until they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law.
The newspaper made the decision while making reference to DSS non-compliance to court orders on trial of Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of SaharaReporters; invasion of courtroom and trial of Shiites’ leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky amongst others.
Punch said its decision shows its protest against autocracy and military-style repression under Buhari’s administration.
However, in reaction to Punch’s decision, Femi Adesina, a senior special assistant to the president on Media and Publicity, said on Tuesday, December 11, 2019, that the newspaper’s decision to call Buhari ‘Major General’ is not out of order.
Adesina on his Twitter page @FemiAdesina added that Buhari has earned the rank ‘Major General’
If you decide to call him Major General, he wasn’t dashed the rank, he earned it. So, you are not completely out of order. The fact that you can do so is even another testimony to press freedom in Nigeria.
— Femi Adesina (@FemAdesina) December 11, 2019
According to him, Punch’s publication is proof of press freedom under Buhari’s administration.
Adesina wrote: “If you decide to call him Major General, he wasn’t dashed the rank, he earned it. So, you are not completely out of order.
“The fact that you can do so is even another testimony to press freedom in Nigeria.”
But, the Buhari regime is pretty upset about this categorisation by the national daily. It locked out the Punch’s correspondent from the Presidential Villa among other anti-democratic actions.
First you say that there is nothing wrong with calling him Major General. Then you say it is unacceptable. Then you throw the Punch correspondent out of the Villa and bar the newspaper from covering events in the Presidency.
Chaiii! This thing pain you well, well! Sorry o…
— Femi Fani-Kayode (@realFFK) December 11, 2019