The Presidency says the decision of PUNCH Newspaper to address President Muhammadu Buhari as a “major general” is proof of press freedom in Nigeria.
Femi Adesina, spokesman to the president, said this in a statement issued to Okay.ng on-behalf of the Presidency on Wednesday.
Though he did not mention PUNCH, the widely-read print newspaper had published an editorial stating their decision to refer to President Buhari as “major general” for disregarding the ruling 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,” part of the editorial reads.
Adesina reacting to its decision said, “A newspaper says it will henceforth address President Muhammadu Buhari by his military rank of Major General.
“Nothing untoward in it. It is a rank the President attained by dint of hard work before he retired from the Nigerian Army. And today, constitutionally, he is also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“All over the world, just as in our country, a large number of retired military officers are now democrats. It does not make those who did not pass through military service better than them.
“Rather than being pejorative, addressing President Buhari by his military rank is another testimony to free speech and freedom of the press, which this administration (or regime, if anyone prefers: it is a matter of semantics) has pledged to uphold and preserve.”