But the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr Alex Izinyon, opposed PUNCH’s decision.
The PUNCH, in a front page comment on Wednesday, assessed the President and stated that Buhari, who ruled the country as a military head of state from 1983 to 1985, had failed to “wean himself off his military antecedents.”
A few hours after PUNCH’s comment was published, two presidential aides expressed reservations about the decision to prefix Buhari’s name with Major General.
The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in a statement, said PUNCH’s decision was an indication of freedom of speech in the country.
He stated, “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 the 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.”
But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, in a separate statement, disagreed with the newspaper for changing the title of the President to Major General. He said a newspaper did not have the power to change the title of a President.