Reactions as Punch Dares Buhari
By Olamide Fadoju
The Presidency says the decision of Punch Newspapers to refer to President Buhari as Major General is "another testimony to press freedom in Nigeria".
Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina made this known in a statement reacting to an announcement by the Punch Newspaper today.
In a surprising move on Wednesday, one of Nigeria’s foremost dailies,The Punch Newspapers in an editorial, announced that it will now refer to Nigeria’s democratically elected president as Major- General Muhammadu Buhari and his administration as ‘a regime’.
In the editorial titled ‘Buhari’s lawlessness: Our Stand', the newspaper cited the case of #Revolutionow Convener Omoyele Sowore and the Department of States Services( DSS) as an example of the disregard for human rights and the rule of law that has thrived under Buhari's government adding that the decision will continue until the administration starts to respect the rule of law.
“As a symbolic demonstration of our protest against autocracy and military-style repression, PUNCH (all our print newspapers, The PUNCH, Saturday PUNCH, Sunday PUNCH, PUNCH Sports Extra, and digital platforms, most especially Punchng.com) 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 editorial read. Read the full story here
Meanwhile, following the announcement, Nigerians from various walks of life have taken to Twitter to react.
Former Minister of Aviation Femi-Fani Kayode joined others in praising the Punch Newspaper for its courage in taking such decision
@MobilePunch has shown immense courage by calling @Buhari out. Kudos to them! If more of our media houses were to display the same high degree of responsibility, good sense, decency and courage that the Punch has done on this occassion, Buhari would have been history long ago.— Femi Fani-Kayode (@realFFK) December 11, 2019
Veteran journalist, Dele Momodu also saluted the newspaper for its boldness
Tv personality, Ebuku Obi-Unchendu and Rights activist, Deji Adeyanju gave thumbs up to the newspaper.
Punch with the energy. Quite apt 🥊— Ebuka Obi-Uchendu (@Ebuka) December 11, 2019
Senator Shehu Sani, who represented Kaduna Central in the 8th saluted the newspaper for standing up to ‘tyranny’ in the country.
The Punch Newspaper Editorial of today sends a clear message to the perpetrators,choristers and fans of tyranny and state repression in our country and the corrosive and cowardly silence of those who should speak truth to power.Kudos.— Senator Shehu Sani (@ShehuSani) December 11, 2019
Digital News Editor, Nigeria Info FM, Ufuoma Egbamuno not only praised the newspaper for its bravery but also pledged to join the cause and henceforth, refer to the President as ‘Major General’.
On the other hand, not everyone saw the announcement as praiseworthy. Journalist Fisayo Soyombo questioned the fate of the newspaper if the Federal Government through the DSS decides to respond.
Many of you are happy with @MobilePunch this minute, but what will you do if/when the lawless agents of this govt comes after the paper and its editors?— Fisayo Soyombo (@fisayosoyombo) December 11, 2019
Will you look the other way, because you're not in PUNCH's employ, or will you be 'alive' enough to offer solidarity?
Any move by the DSS to clampdown on Punch Newspaper will pit this govt forever against the international community.— the Morris Monye factor (@Morris_Monye) December 11, 2019
But in their usual lack of foresight, the DSS will still arrest and clampdown on Punch Newspaper anyways...
Well done Punch Newspaper... All die na die last last
I’m sure DSS will henceforth classify Punch as a security threat.— ThankGod Ukachukwu (@kcnaija) December 11, 2019
I hope they don't resort to beseeching the premises of the media house. Good one @MobilePunch, posterity will remember you did this at a time it seems we had no right anymore— Ken Adejumoh (@kenadejumoh) December 11, 2019
Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity in his reaction reminded everyone that the President being a retired Major General, duly earned his rank and there should be no problem if he is addressed by his military title.
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
Personal Assistant to the President on New Media, Bashir Ahmed and others shared the same view with Mr Adesina.
‘Major General’ will forever be attached to his name, he earned it. Calling him that is another form of RESPECT and it doesn’t change the fact that Muhammadu Buhari is President, Federal Republic of Nigeria till 2023.— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) December 11, 2019
Fun fact: huge numbers of his supporters voted the General.
Before, during and after 2019 election, PDP and its presidential candidate had called the President ‘Major General Buhari’ thousands times and it didn’t stop Nigerians from trusting and giving their President another four years mandate. Calling him that will NEVER be a bad thing.— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) December 11, 2019
If addressing the President as "Major-General" is a way to denigrate him, in my opinion it is a waste of effort. Being referred to as "Major-General" for those who are in or have left the military is a thing of immense pride. You can't denigrate someone with that.— HENRY Okelue (@4eyedmonk) December 11, 2019
Does it change the fact that he is 'President' not by title but substantive? It is within their right to do so but it doesn't change the fact. Candidly, that's just begging the issue— Babatunde Adekola (@tadekola7) December 11, 2019
Social commentator, Kayode Ogundamisi on his part expressed his curiosity over what name the Punch Newspaper will call Prof. Ben Ayade Governor of Cross River State who arrested and charged journalist Abba Jalingo with treason