- Garba Shehu has criticised a major newspaper's editorial on Buhari
- The newspaper had accused the president of human rights violation and disregard to rule of law
- According to Shehu, the newspaper did not criticise Obasanjo and Babangida during their time
Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, has criticised a national newspaper for their editorial decision to start addressing President Muhammadu Buhari as a major general.
The paper had also said it would start referring to the president's administration as a regime in protest against human rights abuses in the country.
According to Shehu, the newspaper has no right to change the official title of the president. He disclosed this in a statement on his Facebook page on Wednesday, December 11.
He said: "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.
"Oppose in good humour: for that is the mark of the true democrat – that which you purport to be.
"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.
"It is unprecedented and absurd in our recent political history. The Punch never changed ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo's title from the president to General Obasanjo, despite the latter's refusal to comply with Supreme Court judgment, ordering him to release N30 billion of Lagos state local councils funds.
Going further, he recalled that the newspaper did not even kick against Ibrahim Babangida when the former head of state demanded to be addressed as president when he was not democratically elected.
"When General Ibrahim Babangida who wasn't democratically elected assumed the title of president, why didn't the Punch challenge him or address him by any title it so desired?
"In fact, IBB closed media houses for several months and years, including Punch.
"But the paper didn't stop addressing him as president, despite the fact that he wasn't elected.
He also accused the newspaper of playing partisan opposition politics which has nothing to do with journalism.
"The constitution of Nigeria recognises the president as the formal official title of the occupant of that office. Can the Punch newspapers, in their hubris address the president as prime minister as it pleases?
"Is it within the paper's responsibility or power to change the official title of the man who occupies the office of the President? Does that mean any newspaper is free to address the Comptroller General of Customs a Colonel rather than his official title?
"The Punch newspaper should separate journalism from partisan politics. What it is embarking upon is purely political and it is designed to play to the gallery and cause confusion.
"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 added.
Recall that Legit.ng had reported that Femi Adesina replied a national newspaper over its editorial in which it vowed to start addressing the president as a major general.
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