The Presidency has responded to the reported new editorial policy of the Punch Newspapers to address President Muhammadu Buhari as Major General in his official title and refer to his government as a regime instead of administration, describing it as “totally curious and utterly incredible.”
This was contained in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, and made available to the Press on Wednesday.
It will be recalled that Punch Newspapers released an Editorial on Wednesday December 11, 2019 detailing a new Editorial Policy to thenceforth prefix the name of President Buhari with Major-General, his military rank in the 80s and refer to his administration as a regime “until they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law.”
The paper claimed that it was changing President Buhari’s official title to Major-General because of his government’s alleged disregard for the rule of law.
In the statement, the Presidency said that it was not the choice of Punch that President Buhari was president but that of Nigerian voters.
“He is, however, the two-time electoral choice of the voters of Nigeria, those very people who Punch Newspapers described this morning as “lethargic”: a disdaining epithet apportioned to decent, hard-working, everyday Nigerians for not agreeing with, and for not having voted in line with their publication’s editorial and political opinions.”An excerpt from the Release by the Presidency
The statement further said that it was not within the power of Punch Newspapers to unilaterally change the designation of the President as it pleased
“It is not within the power or rights of a newspaper to unilaterally and whimsically change the formal official title or the designation of the country’s President as it pleases.”
Furthermore, the Presidency said that Nigerians were free to oppose the current administration but should be done in good faith and not in a manner that collectively insults the good voters of Nigeria.
“We welcome your contribution to the debate. But we ask you not to throw insults at the good voters of Nigeria for not agreeing to your choice at the last election.”
The statement accused Punch Newspapers of playing partisan opposition politics rather than journalism, describing their action as double standards since the Newspapers failed to apply similar policy to past Presidents (Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida) who did not obey the rule of law and suppressed press freedom.
“Punch Newspaper’s double standards in cuddling some of our past dictators and their open contempt for President Buhari clearly show that the paper has sinister motives for its current curious editorial judgment. Its personal hatred for and animus towards President Buhari should not be allowed to becloud its good judgment,” the statement concluded.