— The Punch Newspapers (@MobilePunch) December 11, 2019
Today, the editorial board at the Punch news conglomerate made a big statement. It comes on the heels of a year of political impudence on the part of the Nigerian presidency and state governors. Acts of impudence that have specifically targeted members of the Nigerian press. Journalists like Jones Abiri, Dadiyata and others who have been forcibly kidnapped and tortured in a bid to silence free press in the country covering the excesses of General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime. As a sign of protest and a challenge to the executive, the news group and all its subsidiaries will address the president by his military rank of Major General and refer to his tenure as president as a ‘regime’ to reflect the abuse of power that has characterised his time as leader.
This is relevant for many reasons.
In the run up to the 2015 elections that allowed General Buhari ascend into political office, his image was rebranded and a part of that rebranding was a deliberate downplaying of his military past. He requested that he no longer be referred to in public places as ‘General’ and insisted he was only a regular citizen and should be seen as such. His actions as president have contradicted that sentiment, and by addressing him by his track record breaks the illusion of General Buhari as a rule abiding democratically elected president.
Second, it acknowledges the context behind General Buhari’s abuses of power and privilege and reminds its readership that impunity cannot be accepted, no matter the consequence. We are inspired by the Punch’s brave stand, and recommend that we support their bravery through donations and traffic to their platforms. Many are skeptical of the impact this move will have, but it is admirable for a public company will defy the government of the day in this way. It reminds us there is hope for our democracy.
Long live Democracy.