Punch has been a thorn in the flesh of Presidents since Olusegun Obasanjo – their irritation crystallising with Goodluck Jonathan.
Of course, straight from the backwaters of ignorance, some of his supporters assumed it was a ‘Yoruba Media’ conspiracy against a candidate from the Niger Delta.
Anyone who actually pays attention knows it is embedded in the Punch DNA – to stand up to government, to cut bullies down to size. And yes it does go overboard and like everybody else, it does have its mistakes – but its stayed true to itself.
And itself is what it did as it headlined Muhammadu Buhari’s latest misadventure – with his latest tool of oppression.
The headline – in a story so important in its estimation it dedicated 6 reporters to it – says it all: “Buhari’s DSS boys go crazy”.
The report itself is typically balanced – getting opinions left and right and putting the events into context so that you could still disagree with it.
But its lead made it clear what story Punch was trying to tell. “The actions of these agents of state, observers say, are reminiscent of the executive lawlessness and human rights abuses that characterised the nation’s military era,” the paper notes in the third paragraph. “Including the period that President Muhammadu Buhari spent in power as a military dictator.”
The next line doesn’t make too much pretense as to how the paper views the action:
Expectedly, the actions of the agents attracted widespread condemnation from Nigerians
“Expectedly”, “Buhari’s boys”, “go crazy”.
The subtext is very clear. This is lawlessness. This is Buhari indulging his worst reflexes. And Punch, as usual, as with every recalcitrant president, is not going to stand by and let them go mad.
Desperate times, and desperate presidents, call for desperately courageous media.